How does my approach to working with couples differ from traditional therapy?
I offer couples relationship coaching which is different from therapy in that we would not be focusing on any mental health issues, but rather working on coming up with strategies and tools to help with situations that you would bring up, areas that you would like to improve. These issues usually relate to communication, understanding each other better, connecting better, and/or working better together to get things done.
Coaching is solution focused and intended to be short term work. My goal is to make myself obsolete in your relationship. By our 4th session, you will have variety of tools and strategies to keep practicing. After, we can meet as needed for relationship tune-ups, when new issues arise, or routinely for accountability, whatever works best for you and your unique relationship.
"What I hear daily is that most neurodiverse couples have been to multiple couples therapists who have not only been unhelpful but have often been harmful. What they want and need are concrete tools and strategies that each partner is able to do in order to improve their relationship, so this is what I have created." —Grace
My approach to working with neurodiverse couples.
My approach is to first listen you and/or your partner describe the areas in your relationship that are not working as well as you would like. With an understanding of the importance of neurology and what it means to be a neurodiverse couple, I normalize and validate both people perspectives, often acting as an interpreter. We then target the problematic behaviors for skill building and problem-solving, focusing on one topic at a time, working to towards your common goals.
Together, we come up with realistic tools and strategies to achieve these goals, taking into account the strengths and challenges you and your partner each bring to the relationship. We practice this the tools first in the session, and anticipate and solve for potential barriers to help ensure mutual success for you and your partner to use this new language of connection created by the new tools and strategies.
For what cannot change, we can explore work-arounds, discuss coping strategies for you and/or your partner, and work towards acceptance of each other.
My journey to working with neurodiverse couples.
I am often asked how I got into this work. Here is my story:
As a social work intern in Wellesley College's counseling center, I had the opportunity to work with a young woman who stumped me, and who in hindsight, I realized was on the autism spectrum. In my quest to learn more about adults on the spectrum, I reached out to AANE, the Asperger/Autism Network (then known as Asperger's Association of New England), who invited me to come to a group of adults with Asperger's and ask them what they wish their college counselors had known. I was then offered and accepted the change to co-lead this group. I learned so much about Asperger's from the group members, the true experts.
My learning continued. When AANE began receiving calls from spouses looking for support, I began leading groups for the neurotypical partners in neurodiverse relationships. When some of these group members asked to bring in their partners on the spectrums, I began offering groups for neurodiverse couples. Similarly, when requested, I have also developed and lead groups for siblings of adults on the spectrum and for grandparents of someone on the spectrum, but my primary focus remained on how to help each partner in a neurodiverse relationship.
In 2007 I became AANE's Director of Couples and Partner's Services. Since then I have worked with over 750 partners in neurodiverse couples, either separately, together, or in groups.
In 2016 AANE received funding to develop training for therapists for how to work with neurodiverse couples, and I became the director of this new program, AANE's Peter M. Friedman Neurodiverse Couples Institute. We launched our ground-breaking online training on 2017, and have so far trained over 70 therapists all over the country and in many parts of the world.
What I hear daily is that most neurodiverse couples have been to multiple couples therapists who have not only been unhelpful but have often been harmful. What they want and need are concrete tools and strategies that each partner is able to do in order to improve their relationship, so this is what I have created. I look forward to sharing them with you.
BACKGROUND & EXPERIENCE
Therapist/coach for neurodiverse couples, separately or together, 2007 - Present
Director of Couples and Partner’s Services, Asperger/Autism Network (AANE), 2007 - Present
Director of the Peter M. Friedman Neurodiverse Couples Institute, Asperger/Autism Network (AANE), 2016 - Present
Facilitator of Groups and Workshops for Partners in Neurodiverse Relationships, 2004 - Present
Clinicial Consultant for professionals working with people on the spectrum, 2008 - Present
Presenter at workshops, webinars, conferences for couples and professionals on the topic of Asperger’s and relationships, 2008 - Present
EDUCATION & TRAINING
Boston University, Master of Social Work, Clinical, Certified in Group Work, 2004
Tufts University, Master of Science, Engineering Psychology/Human Factors,1988
Vassar College, Bachelor of Arts, 1983
Asperger's/Autism Network (AANE), 40+ hours of education and training in Asperger's and autism
Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), 40+ hours of CBT training