Autism and CBT

I’m one of the unfortunate ones, one of the people that just lives in the wrong area. Because of where I live there is no support for autistic adults. After weeks of reaching out to various places I was given two places to contact by my dr, these places are counselling though but the nearest I could get to any kind of help. I figured I would give it a go because maybe I could get something worked on and make my everyday life a little easier.

I contacted one place and was lucky enough that I had a phone appointment within a week. I got over the usually anxiety over speaking to a stranger over the phone and did the appointment. Only it wasn’t counselling, it was CBT.

I have done CBT in the past and didn’t have a particularly positive experience with it. In polite terms I think CBT is a load of rubbish and should be scrapped from the NHS. So when I learned my appointment was CBT I wasn’t exactly hopeful and, after two appointments, I wasn’t disappointed on how rubbish it was going to be.

Ive been told to keep a ‘worry diary’ and write down what it is I worry about and when. I can do this by reflecting on the day every couple of hours. There are problems already with this. 1) I forget almost everything straight after it happens because I’m so used to the thoughts being there they simple disappear from memory. For example, almost every time I pick up a cup that hasn’t been turned upside down I worry there’s a spider in it but because I think this every time it now has become more of a reflex than a thought that stays in my head. So I forget about it almost immediately after it happens. 2) I won’t  remember to stop what I’m doing every couple of hours, this just isn’t how my mind works at all. Within the first week I didn’t rewrite anything down and I could hear her frustration through the phone. She wasn’t exactly polite to me in the second appointment.

And now she wants me to completely change what I do in a day. Like a complete overhaul almost. She wants me to go outside for 20 minutes every day to get sunlight on my skin (she guarantees my anxiety will start to improve immediately) and exercise 3 or 4 times a week. She did recommend that I could combine the outside and exercise by jogging or trying something like the couch to 5k challenge (which does not sound like fun). I wasn’t exactly on board with the plan by this point but then she said I could use the time to explore the area I live. That’s when my brain hopped out of the conversation.

You’re asking an autistic person to try something new? Lady, you must be crazy.

Difficulty with task transition and an aversion to any kind of change is part and parcel of being autistic. And yet these are the things she is suggesting to help lower my anxiety. By the time I put the phone down my anxiety and never been higher!

After asking other autistics online about CBT there seems to be a general consensus that it just doesn’t work on us. I mean it only appears to be a short term solution anyway. How can 6 weeks of this kind of thing change decades of thought processes, habits and other problems for people with a neurotypical brain, never mind a neurodivergent one?

If I want to turn round and say this doesn’t work for me then I feel like I need to have a solid argument to back it up with and so I will give it a try. However, if I am worse, having meltdowns or anything else then it’s going to be stopped and my next CBT appointment will be my last.

Today is meant to be the first day of this new change but all I see outside is clouds and trees swaying in the wind. I don’t know how I’m meant to get sunlight on my skin when I won’t have any skin apart from my face exposed to the little bit of weak sunlight that there is today. Maybe I’ll just start it tomorrow….


Author: AdultsWithAustism

I decided I wanted to do something positive with my life and speak out about what it feels like to be an adult with autism.

2 thoughts on “Autism and CBT”

  1. This reminds me of the time that I spoke with a therapist and she told me that I should get up at 6am in the morning that would solve my problems. Honestly I think this therapist needed to continue her education. Is she a social worker by chance?

    My own personal issue at the time before being diagnosed was that of someone whose been traumatized and I wanted to talk about all of these issues, but apparently getting up at 6am was going to cure all my concerns in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She wasn’t a social worker, I actually don’t know what qualifications you need to do CBT. As much as she has some knowledge of Autism she just seems to stick to textbook training with no leniency for other factors. CBT it just not the right route for me it seems, it’s actually making my anxiety worse not better.


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