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  • Writer's pictureCircles of Communication

Cultivating Self-Love As A Necessary Part Of The Therapeutic Plan

As speech-language pathologists, it’s easy to forget that “non-academic” goals are just as valuable as traditional academic ones when considering overall success in therapeutic outcomes. While we strive to incorporate holistic approaches that consider the entire person at Circles of Communication, it can be helpful to write about and share why holistic approaches are so beneficial as a reminder to ourselves and as a tool for informing others! 

Here are some examples of non-academic goal areas that we frequently incorporate into therapy plans: mindfulness, sensory awareness, emotional awareness, self-advocacy, exploration of hobbies, and friendship skills. The overarching goal of incorporating non-academic goals into speech-language therapy is to empower our clients to cultivate a sense of self-love

Self-love fosters better learning outcomes for several reasons! Improved self-esteem leads to a more positive perception of one’s own abilities, thereby increasing motivation to engage in unfamiliar or challenging activities and employ problem-solving skills (instead of just giving up). Self-love also has benefits when it comes to resilience, in that individuals with positive thoughts of self are more open to constructive feedback and are more likely to make second attempts at a failed objective. Overall, self-love forms the foundation for a healthy approach to challenges, feedback, and promotes continuous growth in all areas.

Encouraging clients to love themselves has its challenges, in that self-love is an innate feeling unique to every individual experience. However, particularly for neurodivergent individuals who may lack a sense of positive identity as a result of ableism in society, exposure to different avenues of building self-love can be very valuable! Here are some suggestions for self-love-promoting goals we often incorporate into therapeutic plans with our clients: 

  1. Understand Autism and other Neurodevelopmental Differences

When we teach our clients about autism, we are fostering a sense of identity and celebrating neurodiversity. Feeling connected to the unique strengths of oneself and understanding the different unique strengths of others within the Autistic community is crucial to building a positive identity and fostering a sense of community that many neurodivergent people lack.

  1. Increase Self-Expression via Special Interests and Hobbies

Incorporating time to explore hobbies and engage with special interests is not only a part of our client-led philosophy, but also a method for building self-love. When we allow our clients to engage in activities that bring them immense joy, they are given a judgment-free space to self-regulate and build aspects of personality. 

  1. Understand and Embrace Sensory Needs

Sensory integration is a relatively new area of the field that many speech-language therapists are just dipping their toes into. However, we recognize the need for related service providers to incorporate sensory education into speech-language therapy so that our clients can understand how their bodies work, how to self-regulate, and feel a sense of control when engaging with both therapeutic activities and daily life. By empowering our clients to embrace their unique sensory needs, we give them a way to increase self-love and feel good in their bodies. 

  1. Increase Mental Health Awareness and Self-Compassion

For many autistic and neurodivergent folks, mental health challenges play a role in their ability to access and/or make progress in related therapy services, maintain friendships, and develop self-esteem. Destigmatizing discussions around mental health and seeking professional help when needed is crucial. Providing resources and information on mental health support can be a key step towards building a resilient and empowered community. We find that emphasizing the connection between mental health and self-compassion is critical for helping our clients celebrate neurodiversity, rather than tear themselves down for being different. 

Remember, the journey towards self-love is unique for each individual, and it's an ongoing process. By embracing neurodiversity, incorporating holistic goals into therapeutic plans, and fostering a culture of acceptance and support, we contribute to a world where everyone feels good about who they are.

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