Welcome!

 

Warm greetings to you!

Besides offering general psychotherapy services for matters such as anxiety, depression, and other life concerns, I offer clients two highly specialized areas of clinical expertise: I am a high intelligence specialist, and I also work with individuals or couples with the symptoms or diagnosis of Autism Spectrum, which now includes Asperger Syndrome.

If you live outside of the state of Washington, you may be interested to know that my services are also available as coaching through SwensonCoaching.com.  

HIGH INTELLIGENCE

I see children, adolescents, and adults whose high intelligence lends their lives a complexity that often makes them feel like outliers in their academic, social, or work environments. Many adults, for example, don't recognize the many ways in which it has influenced their life experiences and decisions. It can be a source of confusion.

Do words like creative, curious, intense, and sensitive resonate strongly with you?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by many interests and abilities?

Do you sometimes feel out of step with others, or lonely in a group?

Do existential questions concern you deeply?

I help individuals come to terms with their talents, intelligence, and abilities, in order to change negative thought or behavior patterns so they can move forward in their lives with confidence and clarity. I can help you identify and build upon your strengths, so you can untie any knots that may appear in your life.

I know what it feels like. I know that this complexity doesn’t stop when we finish our formal education. We are always the ones with the insatiable curiosity, with the rapid-cycling through jobs and entire career fields, with goals and aspirations sometimes incomprehensible to those around us. We are also first in line for existential anxiety, depression, and despair.

If you work with me on issues related to intelligence, you will have no need to apologize for the way your mind works, you may speak at the speed of light, and you may topic hop to your heart’s content. We can forge a clinical relationship that will help you see that for you, this is normal, and that for you, this is good. You are, by definition, in a very small pool. It is no wonder, really, that you feel out of step at times.

I witness existential crises which to many people might appear insignificant. But to my clients, they can be paramount. Their concerns relate to the purpose of existence, the nature of being, the limits of our cognitive capabilities, the existence of evil in the world, the derivation of meaning in life, and cosmological concerns that extend to inquiries into the nature of consciousness. 

Not every client expresses these matters. Topics that arise in sessions are as varied as the individuals themselves. Whatever the concerns, they are intense, even when they surround less lofty areas of consideration.

The challenge is to learn to live with the great joy of high intelligence as well as its inherent burdens, to channel your energy and great gifts into productive and disciplined directions, and to create for yourself and others the better world you know is within your reach – if you could turn off the negative self-talk you have incorporated after hearing the fears and criticisms of others all your life.

High intelligence and the depths of its influence are things I understand well. We can work together on this.


FOR THOSE WITH THE SYMPTOMS OR DIAGNOSIS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM 

I work with adults and adolescents on the autism spectrum.

I am passionately concerned for the welfare of couples in which one partner has the symptoms or diagnosis of AS and the other is what we call neurotypical, or not on the spectrum.

I understand both sides of the relationship: that of the neurotypical partner and that of the individual with a diagnosis or symptoms of AS. I can help you understand the other side of your relationship without expecting one partner to do all the changing, while helping you discover ways to change if that is your desire. 

Our work together consists of two types of sessions: there is the couple work, and there is also individual work for each partner.

At the beginning, we explore the meaning of AS. It is important to remember that this exists on a spectrum. Each individual has personal talents, skills, hopes, dreams, as well as concerns and problems. There is no Autism Personality per se, as AS is expressed to varying degrees and in different ways in each individual – just as there is no one neurotypical personality. Each of us is unique. A diagnosis is not a defining label.

My work is to help both partners discern needs, passions, dreams, and goals, many of which have likely been nearly extinguished, particularly in the neurotypical partner through becoming habituated to bending into the framework established by the AS in the other person.

For the partner on the spectrum, these feelings may seem just out of reach, swirling in confusion without language for expression, causing great anxiety, frustration, and possibly depression over a lifetime. Everything is processed cognitively; feelings roil without accurate expression.

I can help you create bridges for better understanding of each other, leading to better communication. We do this through education about the topic by determining the areas in which the greatest stumbling blocks are manifesting in the relationship.

For the partner on the spectrum, we will explore means of identifying feelings, and then discussing new language to attach to these feelings. This process often leads to a relaxation of the anxiety that has plagued the individual throughout life.

Then we will look at how to read and understand the aspects of communication with your partner that usually do not come through intuitively for a person on the spectrum. Among these aspects are the nonverbal components of communication, estimated to comprise 70% of all interpersonal communication, and which are often invisible or misinterpreted by someone with AS.

These can include the reading of facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, metaphorical speech, gesture, and behavior. These concerns are most apparent and most costly within the intimate relationship with your partner. They also show up, however, in the workplace and in social encounters. Sessions with me can ease your anxiety in these areas as well.

For the neurotypical partner, we also explore needs and desires. A relationship with someone on the spectrum can have deleterious effects on the neurotypical partner, including symptoms of an abuse without any outward signs: PTSD, anxiety, depression, a lack of sense of direction, low libido, an inaccurate self-image, and fears of all sorts. This is abuse without intent. It is painful and difficult to identify, because so many neurotypical partners see these as problems existing within in themselves, rather than as their reactions to confusion, to feeling systematically ignored, or to feeling not heard for many years.

This partner becomes able with guidance to discover what can be given up, where there is room for compromise, and where growth can occur to create a mutually satisfying relationship. This process often involves grieving for the lost dreams and promises that have not come to fruition due to the differences in expectations regarding relationships between the two partners.

These communication issues derive from a core issue: there is an assumption that everyone experiences the world in a similar manner. This gives rise to misinterpretations and, more seriously, misattributions of intent. Our work together will include education in this area.

I work to support the emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of couples who come to me. There is often an existential component to this work as well, as individuals struggle to find meaning in their behaviors, their primary intimate relationship, and their lives. 

If you are wondering about whether your partner may have AS, please take a look at the Asperger Syndrome/AS page which you will find on the navigation bar on the left. You will see a checklist of questions to consider. A formal diagnosis is not required. If you feel that many of these things apply to you, then working with me on these issues can be of great personal value to your life now and for the future, even if you are not on the spectrum. 

Together we will explore areas of consistent blocks, and after identifying them, I will help you learn to understand them, to offer and accept forgiveness if necessary, and to move forward in your relationship. Most often, this leads to exciting willingness to undertake the growth that will heal your relationship and create a positive path forward for both of you.

There are times, however, when an informed decision can now be made to reconfigure the relationship in a new constellation that works for both partners. We will explore ways that you can do this as well.

I work with all couples – straight, gay, lesbian, polyamorous, transgender. This is all about relationships and understanding AS so that you can heal and grow.

Working with me can help you:

   Understand that you are not alone and that your feelings are valid.

   Improve your decision-making ability.

   Maintain a healthy balance between work and family.

   Manage difficult emotions with integrity. 

   Set strong personal boundaries.

   Have loving relationships with your family where they are possible, and recognize where they are not.

   Overcome negative thinking and self-criticism.

   Let go of old fears and pain and enjoy your current life.

   Create a meaningful and life-giving future.

   Learn to live with your existential concerns.

   Create effective communication styles for healing your relationship.

Please call or email me for an individual, couple, or family therapy consultation today. 

 

Sarah Swenson
Seattle, Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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