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abstract paint streaks at irregular angles representing neurodivergence
CPD Credits
Event Type
Live Online Event
Zoom & Recording for 365 days
3:30 pm - 7:00 pm
abstract paint streaks at irregular angles representing neurodivergence
Saturday, December 2, 2023

Working with Neurodivergent Clients

With Stephen Seligman

In this 3-part live webinar, we will be thinking about how to define and work with different forms of neurodivergence. Stephen will explore the multiple elements interacting in these challenging situations, sorting out how clients may be presenting with constitutional neurodynamic factors as well as psychosocial difficulties caused by intrapsychic conflict or environmental factors, such as attachment or developmental trauma.

Psychotherapists often overlook neurodivergences, and our biases might get in the way of our seeing the complicated combinations of strengths and "weaknesses" at hand. An understanding of neurodynamic factors, including sensorimotor, auditory and visual processing, can help psychotherapists make sense of cases which otherwise can appear puzzling. For instance, clients may present with disorganised, inattentive styles that do not align with their reports of trauma, neglect, or other familial factors. Stephen will illuminate how neurodynamic differences can impact a person’s sense of self at physical, emotional, cognitive and interpersonal dimensions of experience.

With a wealth of experience as a child, adolescent and adult psychotherapist, Stephen will draw on case material to share his work with neurodivergent clients. He will also discuss assessment and intervention approaches and highlight how a collaborative multidisciplinary approach is often helpful. There will be plenty of time for questions and lively discussion across the day. The aim of the event is to help participants feel more confident about working with neurodivergent clients. 


15.30 Introductions and Housekeeping
15.35 Identifying the problem

Sometimes we meet clients who defy our psychodynamic theoretical understanding of how a client ‘should’ present. They may sit in the chair opposite and seem oddly unresponsive, withdrawn or even slightly 'psychotic'. They may be very successful in some areas of their life but struggle in others. Their behaviour doesn’t fit with their accounts of developmental trauma, or our typical formulations and diagnoses, leaving us confused as therapists. In such cases, a consideration of neurodynamic factors can be helpful. Thinking about constitutional ‘neurodynamic factors’ can also prevent us from putting clients in neurodiverse boxes such as ‘ADHD’ and ‘Asperger’s’ which may be culturally biased and stigmatising for the client, and crucially prevent us from a deeper enquiry that can identify an effective treatment approach, and recognise special aptitudes. The talk will also consider how neurodynamic factors interact with psychosocial difficulties, such as attachment and psychological conflicts.

16.05 Q&A
16.20 Break
16.30 Defining neurodiversity  

In this talk, Stephen will provide descriptions of specific neurodynamic factors and discuss how they often arise from nervous system differences which impact language, memory, emotions, attention, motor skills and more. He will provide child and adult case examples, and illuminate how neurodynamic factors shape a person’s character, development, and relationships. Stephen will emphasise how understanding and recognising these factors is essential for more accurate diagnoses and effective treatments in a profession that is trained to look out for intrapsychic and environmental factors, such as infant-caregiver attachment difficulties and other childhood difficulties. 

17.15 Q&A
17.30 Break
17.45 The need for integration

In this session, Stephen will provide suggestions for assessment and treatment strategies when working with neurodivergent clients. He will discuss where neurodynamic factors need to be distinguished from intrapsychic conflict and environmental factors, such as early relational trauma, as well as where integrated, synergistic perspectives that include psychodynamic, behavioural, and psychosocial understandings are important. Stephen will highlight how multidisciplinary inputs to an assessment are often useful, for example occupational, speech and language, or physical therapy. He will offer ideas on how specific, experience-near interventions can illuminate how neurogenic differences impact how a person relates to self and other at explicit and implicit levels of communication. 

18.15 Discussion with participants

In this final interactive session, we invite participants to share their clinical challenges while working with potentially neurodivergent cases, bearing in mind client confidentiality. We want to understand where your challenges lie in the clinical work so we can identify where more in-depth training could be helpful, as well as to open further discussion and debate. 

19.00 End


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