Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Autism


QUESTION: I am 33 and male and recently decided to  start seeing a therapist for season depression. I've seen him maybe four times so far and I yesterday told him I was in a special edu class in high school which seemed to  bring up a lot of interest for him. He decided to start asking me questions about my social interactions and my empathy. I think he thinks I might be autistic or have aspergers syndrome. I personally think I read people fairly well and have been told by others I am too sensitive to people. How common are those disorders?

ANSWER: Your observations and questions are quite perceptive and socially adept, James, and are certainly worthwhile discussing. It's just that you asked the wrong person, because that's exactly what your therapist is for.

Give it a go. It's your time; it's your money. And if you don't feel the answers are sufficiently forthcoming, there are lots of other clinical psychologists (if that's what your therapist is).

And if you have a follow-up, feel free any time.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Well he read off questions to that effect from a booklet at my last appointment and hasn't yet tallied up the results. I don't think there are nearly so many therapists that my insurance covers in my area. I am worried that if he concludes I  have  a disorder  other than low confidence that he'll start treating me differently. When I told  him I was in special edu class in high school he  made it seem like he thought it was quite a bit more  impressive that I even completed  college. I'm worried this could change everything pending his  interpretation of my responses.

I have to repeat my previous comments, James.

One reason is that it's not proper to interfere in any way with ongoing therapy. Another is that a lot hinges on the reason for your going. You say "seasonal depression" but there may be something else that comes out in time, and the objectives of therapy can change. A third is that the concerns you raise with me show a certain intellect that he may not otherwise appreciate.

I don't like bypassing legitimate questions, but I'm sure you understand. I really suggest you expose all your concerns to him -- even in the form of a printout of this if you'd rather.

That you came to him through your insurer implies that he must be competent, but you're entitled to ask for an alternate referral if you can't be open with this one or if he does not seem to be addressing your needs -- after you give him a reasonable opportunity. Even though he is the professional, you are entitled to specify what you want help with, and to ask how he proposes to treat you for that.


Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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