Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnosis?

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piazza11
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Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnosis?

Post by piazza11 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:29 am

Hey guys,

Despite already having an account on this page, I made this second account for reasons that will become apparent in a minute.
My question - in short - is: Will being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome have any effect on a possible career in Clinical Psychology at all?

brief background: I am not diagnosed at the moment, but for years I have been thinking that I have AS, the last couple of years I have been pretty much self-diagnosed and people I talked about this, also think I probably have it. I was extensively engaged in the topic for a variety of reasons, so I do know what I am talking about (I hope). I thought I was quite happy with being self-diagnosed and I do not have any problems that could only be solved by holding an official diagnosis. I already know "what is wrong with me" and a diagnosis would not be a sudden revelation with an "aha!!" moment. I do not really want to go into details why suddenly I feel (an actually quite strong) urge to be diagnosed, in order to stay anonymous; but it's basically to be officially recognised as belonging to a group I think I belonged to all along. here is a topical analogy: you are a gay couple and accepted that you live together and are partners, just as if you were married, but you would still like the offical piece of paper saying you are married, even though it might not actually change anything in your life. (i guess this is a case, where "labels" are good? for my situation anyways? i think you know what I mean, sense of belonging to a group)

Assuming I would be diagnosed, I really do not want to make "use" of the diagnosis in a legal way, such as claming different things etc. I was always quite proud of having shown to my self that I managed to go through life without relying on anything - not least because I am not even diagnosed (okay, this sounds awkward and somehow self-indulgent, so I stop this here). In short: I want the piece of paper with the diagnosis, lock it in a safe and nothing else. I just want it confirmed for myself I guess.

That leads back to the original question: What bearing can an official diagnosis have on a possible career in Clinical psychology (or any psychology or non-psychology career really)? I found this thread about mental health issues when practising clinical psychology (viewtopic.php?f=20&t=95). Now, Aspergers is not a mental health issue (or is it? its a disability, right? *awkward terminology moment*); it's not like I have depression or anxiety, where I was suddenly affected by something a client said, if you know what i mean. It says in there though, that MH problems, for example, have to be disclosed when applying for anything CP related (?) Somewhere else, however, - and this is actually a big principle regardless of profession at the moment - I often read that people with disabilities are "encouraged" (for want of a better word) to apply to have a diverse workforce. However, as far as my career is concerned, I do not want AS to play a role at all (at least I don't want to be in a position where I will be "forced" to disclose it; i can never say if in 10 years time I might be in a position where I would benefit from disclosing it in a professional environment; actually, doing a bit of dreamguessing here, I might probably be proud to be a CP with AS and show what you can achieve despite of AS - if i get that far of course^^).

You might already see, due to the fact that I created a new account and email address just for this thread, I really want to stay anonymous and do not want to get a diagnosis of AS get in the way of my career. As important as it might be to me personally, I do not need it to access any services etc and if it turns out it might get in the way of my career, I will actually choose not to attempt a diagnosis. I might only be in the early stages of this career, but I really set my heart on clinical psychology and I will settle with only being self-diagnosed if that means I can pursue CP undisturbed.

Note: Please keep in mind, I am asking only about the sort of official/legal barriers; I am aware that clinical psychology relies on empathy and stresses interpersonal skills in therapy etc and that people with AS can lack those skills. But having a piece of diagnosis paper would not suddenly change the way I use these skills already. And if there was a problem in this area, I would not get through the course or even on the course anyways. Either way, I have already proven to myself and others, that this will not get in the way of what I do already at the moment. And in exchange, I like to believe (and I do), that i have other skills, such as a very good organization and management skills and a tendency to perfection that help me along.

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by Pink » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:51 am

Hi Piazza,

I really felt for you reading your post: you sound so worried about keeping this secret, and that's a big burden to carry. It sounds as though you're going through a process with this just now, and that can be tough, particularly if you have to keep it a secret. (It does seem like a 'coming out' process, with all the concomitant fears about stigma and prejudice, to use your analogy again). I hope you have people in your real life you can talk to about this.

I'm afraid I don't know anything about your questions, but this thread may help?

viewtopic.php?f=32&t=12396&p=104663&hil ... rs#p104663

It may also be worth PM-ing the person involved and finding out what's happened since.

My own thought-not advice as I don't know anything about it-is based on my own experience of coming out as gay, and the relief of not having to live with a 'secret' any more, not having to guard my responses, reactions and language around certain people etc. I appreciate that there's no certainty for you, but to live with a question in your mind about yourself that you feel you can't share sounds really hard and isolating. I would also think that the reflective component of CP training would make keeping a secret on the course for three years very hard (although it can be done: I think Rufus May kept his voice-hearing secret during training.)

good luck and fingers crossed for you, whatever decision you take.

best wishes,

Pink
Kintsukuroi: 'to repair with gold'. the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

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piazza11
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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by piazza11 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:29 am

thanks for the thread, i didn't even use the search function, because I was not expecting that someone might have actually been in the same situation.

I don't really feel like I have to keep it a secret, I already told my parents, but they are not really fussed, they don't really want to know about it. I am not fussed about stigma that much either, I just want to get into a position, where someone says something along the lines of "well because you got AS, we don't want you to do X, or you cannot do Y" or "because you have AS, you are biased in your opinion on Z"; Ideally I want to "wear" the AS badge with pride (I do already, but then I don't have a diagnosis) and show myself and others that I can do all these things despite having AS, I don't want to be in a special position, I don't want to take any advantage of my position, I don't want other people to treat me any differently, I don't want to be patronized. But if I feel this might be the case, I want to have the option of just keeping it a secret in those environments, where I think people will put a barrier in my way if they knew I had AS. However, I am worried I might be in a position, where I have to disclose it, like with the mental health problems in the thread I linked. Where its a requirement for a job, for example.

I guess like everybody, I don't want to be discriminated against, neither in a negative, nor in a positive way (say disability double tick application schemes). I want to always have the option to keep it a secret, when I feel I might be discriminated against otherwise. But once I have an official diagnosis, I fear I cannot do that in places. A GP once said to me: "If we look long enough, we will always find an "illness" or something that is wrong, but as soon as we find that, we have to document it and it can be disadvantagous when it comes to insurances, because you will have to disclose that you have been diagnosed with X." I guess, that's my worry with AS.

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by astra » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:50 am

Tricky situation!
What I would say is that there are CPs working who I suspect are "somewhere on the spectrum". Whether they have a diagnosis or not, or whether they would want one, i don't know. In fact, given it's a spectrum, we're all on it, just some of us might be further to one end than the other, and vice versa.
Also there are lots of aspects to our job that don't rely so heavily on empathy and interpersonal skills as therapy does - the job is certainly not all about therapy. Although it sounds like what you've done so far, experience-wise, that's not been too much of a problem anyway.
I guess if your interpersonal style got in the way, then at some point you would be filtered out of the process and redirected with some, hopefully, empathic supervision and a bit of personal reflection. And if not, maybe you're not as far along the spectrum as you think you are?
I wonder why you want a diagnosis now, when this has clearly been around for you for a long time?
I also wonder why you specifically want to go into CP as a career? Not saying you shouldn't, just wondering why you've got set on that as a career option when it seems at first glance somewhat less suited to your condition?
Just my thoughts. :D
From the point of view of mindfulness, as long as you're breathing there's more right with you than wrong with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn

piazza11
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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by piazza11 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:09 am

astra wrote:Tricky situation!
What I would say is that there are CPs working who I suspect are "somewhere on the spectrum". Whether they have a diagnosis or not, or whether they would want one, i don't know. In fact, given it's a spectrum, we're all on it, just some of us might be further to one end than the other, and vice versa.
Also there are lots of aspects to our job that don't rely so heavily on empathy and interpersonal skills as therapy does - the job is certainly not all about therapy. Although it sounds like what you've done so far, experience-wise, that's not been too much of a problem anyway.
I guess if your interpersonal style got in the way, then at some point you would be filtered out of the process and redirected with some, hopefully, empathic supervision and a bit of personal reflection. And if not, maybe you're not as far along the spectrum as you think you are?
I wonder why you want a diagnosis now, when this has clearly been around for you for a long time?
I also wonder why you specifically want to go into CP as a career? Not saying you shouldn't, just wondering why you've got set on that as a career option when it seems at first glance somewhat less suited to your condition?
Just my thoughts. :D
there is something that caused this feeling to really wanting to have a diagnosis now, but i don't feel comfortably talking about this here as i might be identified. i thought about getting a diagnosis earlier already, but was always put off by all the hassle. it gets more difficult to be diagnosed as you get older, and i might regret this later.

I did not start off as wanting to go into CP at all. I made some experiences (not connected to my AS) that made me want to pursue psychology (just like most people). I guess AS might have contributed to the initial interest in how people function, but I am definitely not in a "self-research" position (anymore). I think another reason might be a drive to overcome my weaknesses by doing something that requires me to learn all those skills (though I can only say this in retrospect, did not consciously know this when making the decision for CP). I could have gone into an area that required less interpersonal stuff, and I might be good at that, but I would not be happy, because that would be like saying "I have AS, therefore I cannot do career X". I am a strong believer in that you can do anything with AS (or any diagnosis), if you want it enough. You might get there on a different way and use different tools, but you will get there. Another reason is, that I want to do something meaningful and good, so I can achieve this with CP aswell. Lastly, it might even be the competitiveness of the area. I am the first person of my family going to Uni and I want to prove to myself and others what I am capable of doing. I love working hard and I need to be challenged. Incidentally I also need to learn to fail sometimes, stand up and keep trying and be successful on other times. I love doing research and I love helping others. CP is quite a good career to do all these things.

(oh, this could be a start for a section on reflectiveness for my application?)

also, just to say it again: i am doing things now that require the interpersonal etc and I have learnt a lot since I started in this area (which is the effect of the "overcoming motive" from above). I am not worried about not being able to do it (probably i am a bit too overconfident). I am just worried that other people might put obstacles in the way because they know about me having AS.

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by Borrowed Cone » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:36 pm

This is an interesting thread to reappear as the "Asperger's Syndrome" diagnosis is being removed from manuals. I wondered what you make of that in relation to looking for said diagnosis, and being worried about any stigma that may come with it?

best wishes,

The Cone
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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by piazza11 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:25 pm

Borrowed Cone wrote:This is an interesting thread to reappear as the "Asperger's Syndrome" diagnosis is being removed from manuals. I wondered what you make of that in relation to looking for said diagnosis, and being worried about any stigma that may come with it?

best wishes,

The Cone
Hm, interesting there, I assume you are talking about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnosis_ ... s_to_DSM-5 (sorry, wikipedia there)
that takes the wind out of my sails quite a bit to be honest. I am not sure what to make of it; mixed feelings, slightly negative. Is there a similar proposal for the ICD? and what would happen to people already diagnosed? that really catches me out a bit, i was just getting into the whole spirit of it :)

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by Borrowed Cone » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:07 pm

I think the point I wanted to make was similar to those above.

At the end of the day, we are all the way we are, and no one has to put us into a "box". We can either try to achieve our aims, and see what happens, or we can pander to what some other people say we should do, and forego those aims and dreams.

If you think you would make a good psychologist, then embrace your personal characteristics (whether or not they would have fit into an Asperger's diagnosis), and go for it. The worst that can happen is that it doesn't happen, and you can start to look at other options if necessary.

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by Spatch » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:30 pm

As someone who doesn't really compartmentalise people by societal or professional labels, I have not strong opinion of someone with AS going for psychology. Try. If you get in, someone thinks you are clearly good enough. However, I would query a couple of things:
I am a strong believer in that you can do anything with AS (or any diagnosis), if you want it enough. You might get there on a different way and use different tools, but you will get there.
Really? What if my goal was marrying Keira Knightly? If I work hard enough will I get that?

I think this can be quite a dangerous way of thinking, and is a variant of "If you want something (anything) hard enough you will get it" or "Just world fallacy". It places the onus of success on individual effort and ignores the various environmental factors, external barriers and even luck that plays a huge part in the success of any endevour. It also has the unfortunate implication that anyone who fails to achieve something just simply didn't work hard enough or want it bad enough. It probably goes double in this forum where many of us are nursing rejections and having to think of plan B's.
Another reason is, that I want to do something meaningful and good, so I can achieve this with CP aswell. Lastly, it might even be the competitiveness of the area. I am the first person of my family going to Uni and I want to prove to myself and others what I am capable of doing. I love working hard and I need to be challenged. Incidentally I also need to learn to fail sometimes, stand up and keep trying and be successful on other times. I love doing research and I love helping others. CP is quite a good career to do all these things.
I am not really sure how these reasons really link to CP. They could equally be aimed at nursing, medicine or any of Cone's other suggestions. There is nothing really there for me that links to the core facets of being a clinical psychologist. Thats not to say you shouldn't go for it, but there is so much there that would benefit from unpacking and understanding.

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by piazza11 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:18 pm

well the thing with the "you can do anything" was not really to be taken literally (ha, maybe i am not AS?) -

either way, i really appreciate all your opinions. i was not really asking for some of it, but its good anyways. i was foremostly thinking about having to disclose AS. i found the answer to that in the other thread. i am actually faving some barrier before diagnosis as well, so it might even be some time until i get there.

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by astra » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:10 pm

The thing about "if you want something badly enough and work hard enough you'll get there" made me laugh. I have a physical disability and I know I could never join the army or be a window cleaner as I use a wheelchair full time. I could have set my sights on something and be terribly disappointed!
From the point of view of mindfulness, as long as you're breathing there's more right with you than wrong with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by russ » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:47 pm

I can't help being intrigued by the conflict between the strength of wanting a diagnosis so much for reasons of validation, fit, and membership (as a patient), where it could equally restrict, deselect and stigmatise. Lacan and Verhaege have a lot to say about our need for an Other to give us these permissions and take them away from us. Like The Cone, my wish would be you being happy about being you, rather than trying to fit and not fit boxes.
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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by piazza11 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:22 pm

astra wrote:The thing about "if you want something badly enough and work hard enough you'll get there" made me laugh. I have a physical disability and I know I could never join the army or be a window cleaner as I use a wheelchair full time. I could have set my sights on something and be terribly disappointed!
sorry. i did not mean to offend anybody.

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by Spatch » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:52 pm

I can't help being intrigued by the conflict between the strength of wanting a diagnosis so much for reasons of validation, fit, and membership (as a patient), where it could equally restrict, deselect and stigmatise. Lacan and Verhaege have a lot to say about our need for an Other to give us these permissions and take them away from us.
Russ you have given me a lot of food for thought there. Any particular references for these ideas as I would quite like to follow those up?

Not singling out Piazza here or saying this applies to them, but am wondering out loud in light of what Russ has said. I also wonder if people adopting and embracing such a "barrier" could also serve as a defence of some kind? In some ways surrounding ones self with barriers can almost pre-empt painful rejections and failures, by linking them to those very external arbitrary factors. For example, it may be easier to have a narrative of "I wasn't able to get that job, but what do you expect I am from a BME background" rather than "I was outclassed on the day by better candidates". Also the corollary is that all of the successes also become sweeter or even more of an achievement in beating the odds e.g. "Despite coming from the wrong side of the tracks, and being almost killed by illness, I was able overcome all obstacles to make it as a Barrister." I am curious about what others think?

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Re: Doing Clinical Psychology with Asperger Syndrome Diagnos

Post by piazza11 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:39 pm

Spatch wrote:
I can't help being intrigued by the conflict between the strength of wanting a diagnosis so much for reasons of validation, fit, and membership (as a patient), where it could equally restrict, deselect and stigmatise. Lacan and Verhaege have a lot to say about our need for an Other to give us these permissions and take them away from us.
Russ you have given me a lot of food for thought there. Any particular references for these ideas as I would quite like to follow those up?

Not singling out Piazza here or saying this applies to them, but am wondering out loud in light of what Russ has said. I also wonder if people adopting and embracing such a "barrier" could also serve as a defence of some kind? In some ways surrounding ones self with barriers can almost pre-empt painful rejections and failures, by linking them to those very external arbitrary factors. For example, it may be easier to have a narrative of "I wasn't able to get that job, but what do you expect I am from a BME background" rather than "I was outclassed on the day by better candidates". Also the corollary is that all of the successes also become sweeter or even more of an achievement in beating the odds e.g. "Despite coming from the wrong side of the tracks, and being almost killed by illness, I was able overcome all obstacles to make it as a Barrister." I am curious about what others think?
i agree with you there, and i am not denying that there might be a bit of that motive for me. i have met people who use their disability as a defense to get all sorts of extensions and extra help. now, although i am not planning on that, i can see how it can be a defense personally. as it happens, i spoke to a disability service today about this and actually, my biggest worry is, that if i am not diagnosed, i cannot explain some of my difficulties. for me AS was a revelation when i found out about it and ever since i self-diagnosed myself i can use it to explain situations where i failed (especially socially) and i found out how to work around situations that are difficult and made quite some progress. but there is still a need for me, to want an official diagnosis. i can see, how this can be "wrong" to want a diagnosis just for this, but then, isn't this a big part of how diagnosis can be helpful. receiving services and support is one thing, but surely what spatch said is the other part of it?

i hold my hands up and say, i don't know whether i engage in any of those attributions you described. i would say no, but i am probably not in a position to say from introspection. but then, attributions are just that. attributions. dont we all tend to attribute failures to external sources (the syndrome, rather than failure to put enough effort in) and success to internal sources? Especially with disabilities, we see that all the time. Many people get honored etc because they achieved something despite disability and illness - something which might not be honored if achieved by just a normal person. I think the current torch relay can tell some of those stories (dont take this the wrong way again, not slagging anyone of, just saying)

i am going to ask you something back: do you think people only warrant a diagnosis of for example AS if they are "suffering" from it and could access help and support by being diagnosed? I know some people think like that and i also feel a bit guilty about demanding an assessment, even though i dont need any help.

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