Talking Therapies and Autism


Woman and man talkingThere are a number of psychological therapies that are primarily based around talking to an empathetic listener in a stress-free environment.

The therapist is trained to listen with empathy (by putting themselves in your shoes). They can help you deal with any negative thoughts and feelings that you have.

Talking therapies include counselling, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis although there is a considerable overlap between these therapies and some confusion as to which is which. For example, some people call all talking therapies "psychotherapy" or just "therapy".


Determining the benefits of most talking therapies for autistic people is not currently possible. We must wait for further research of sufficiently high quality to be completed.

Risks and Safety

No specific risks are associated with talking therapies other than those found in other psychological therapies.

Specific Talking Therapies


Counselling is based on the idea that talking about a problem may help to understand and to solve that problem.Sometimes you may also be encouraged to discuss problems with other people, in couple therapy, family therapy or group therapy. Counselling involves regular meetings with a counsellor or therapist who has been trained to help you.

There are a wide range of approaches to counselling but they generally fall into three categories,

  • Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies focussing on unconscious patterns from childhood. 
  • Cognitive and behavioural therapies looking at cognition (thinking) and behaviour.
  • Humanistic therapies are based on an holistic approach that encourages the client to think about their feelings, and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions.

In practice the approaches and strategies used in each of the categories tend to overlap.

More Information

Please see Publications on Counselling


Psychoanalysis is a type of psychological intervention used to help people deal with emotional and behavioural problems.Psychoanalysis is based on the idea that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and behaviour. These unconscious factors may be the source of considerable distress and unhappiness.

Psychoanalysis is designed to reveal how these unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behaviour, trace them back to their historical origins, show how they have changed and developed over time, and help the individual to deal better with them.

There are many different forms of psychoanalysis and each may use slightly different techniques. However most forms of psychoanalysis encourage the individual to explore and discuss his or her emotional and behavioural problems with the therapist. Sometimes the individual may also be encouraged to discuss problems with other people in couple therapy, family therapy or group therapy. Creative therapies - such as art therapy, drama therapy and music therapy - may follow psychoanalytic principles.

More Information

Please see Publications on Psychoanalysis


Psychotherapy is a type of therapy used to treat emotional problems and mental health conditions. It involves talking to a trained therapist, either one-to-one, in a group or with your wife, husband or partner. It allows you to look deeper into your problems and worries and deal with troublesome habits and a wide range of issues. 

Psychotherapy usually involves talking but sometimes other methods may be used - for example, art, music, drama and movement. Psychotherapy can help you to discuss feelings you have about yourself and other people, particularly family and those close to you. In some cases, couples or families are offered joint therapy sessions together..

There are several different types of psychotherapy including psychodynamic (psychoanalytic) psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), cognitive analytical therapy (CAT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), the humanistic approaches, group therapy, and family therapy

More Information

Please see Publications on Psychotherapy

Related Pages

Related Glossaries

27 May 2022