What we do
We are autistic people with professional expertise and lived experience, focused on researching the barriers in mental health support for autistic people and developing solutions and recommendations. Our aims:
- Develop resources and help for autistic people needing counselling or other kinds of mental health support.
- Develop training and resources for counsellors so they are able to work more effectively and empathically with autistic clients.
- Carry out and contribute to research that can improve the mental health of autistic people.
- Identify and support counsellors who will best serve the needs of the autistic community.
- Encourage and support more autistic people who are or wish to become mental health practitioners.
Our research and resources are based primarily on experiences that come directly from the autistic community. We believe that in order to understand and communicate what autistic people need, we must draw from a range of autistic voices, as well as make use of our own skills and knowledge as autistic professionals with expertise and lived experience: nothing about us, without us.
Who we are
Sonny Hallett is an autistic trainer, advocate, and co-founder of AMASE (Autistic Mutual Aid Society Edinburgh). They are lead author of a report investigating the barriers affecting autistic people in accessing mental health support in Scotland, and involved in research around autistic identity, culture and belonging, and cross-neurotype communication.
They are particularly interested in how counselling can be adapted to better suit autistic needs, how counsellors can be trained to better understand neurodivergent (and other minority) perspectives, and how being autistic intersects with other identities, including gender, sexuality and ethnicity.
They are currently training to become a qualified counsellor.
Colin Kerr is an integrative mental health counsellor predominantly working with adults who have experienced interpersonal trauma growing up and who struggle with a range of psychological, physiological and emotional distress. He has an interest in the overlap of autistic experience and distress.
As well as seeing a small number of clients privately, Colin works as a voluntary counsellor with a community health project, co-facilitates psychoeducational groups for mental health issues and has been working for the last year with Sonny Hallett researching and developing resources for counsellors and autistic adults.
Colin is a Practitioner Member with COSCA – the professional body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland.
He is also currently exploring his own autistic identity.