Considerations when Searching for a Mental Health Professional


There are some important things to consider when looking for a mental health professional. For some people, it will be important that the professional has experience working with NDD. It is okay to ask potential mental health professionals about their experience with NDD and/or specific disabilities. For others, experience with NDD will not matter and individuals may base their decision to work with a professional on how they feel about the person they are working with. 

Table 2 offers some helpful signs to look out for when searching for a mental health professional:

Table 2: Positive and Negative Signs to Look For in Mental Health Professionals

Positive things to look for in a mental health professional

Negative things to watch out for in a mental health professional 

Asks for your consent.

Dismissive of things you say when they disagree. 

Really listens to what you say, even when they disagree.

Not interested in why you act/feel the way you do.

Willing to listen and work with your needs/wants.

Ignores your input about why you act/feel the way you do.

Open-mindedness and willingness to learn about you.

Pathologizes NDD traits (such as stimming, lack of eye contact, sensory needs).

Focuses on understanding why you act/feel the way you do.

Tries to reduce or get rid of NDD traits.

Accepts your NDD traits/characteristics (e.g., stimming, lack of eye contact, sensory needs, etc.).

Interprets NDD traits as symptoms of some underlying condition.

Doesn’t try to reduce or get rid of your NDD traits.

Withholds information to get you to make decisions that they think are in your best interest. 

Gives all relevant information so you can make informed decisions rather than making decisions for you.

Insists that speech is the only acceptable way to communicate (if applicable).

Looks for different ways to communicate that work for you (if applicable).

Focuses on weaknesses. 

Respects your rights as a person and your identity. 

Expects you to be able to advocate for your own needs when you are not able to.

Is honest.

Puts you down.

Is patient.

Doubts your NDD diagnosis. 

Focuses on emotional well-being.

Is unwilling to accommodate or be flexible to NDD-related challenges. 

Sets good boundaries.


Highlights strengths and talents. 


*Adapted and reprinted with permission from the Autism Mental Health Literacy Project (AM-HeLP) Group. (2021). Mental Health Literacy Guide for Autism (1st digital Ed.). Retrieved from:

Last modified: Friday, April 22, 2022, 2:22 PM