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Rachael Sullivan

At A Glance:

Specialties and Certifications


  • Associate Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Neurodiverse couples specialist

  • Neurodiverse parenting specialist

  • NAADAC National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level 1

  • QPR Institute Gatekeeper Certification (Suicide Prevention & Crisis Support), Level 2

  • Cross-cultural Language, and Academic Development Certificate (CLAAD)

  • Twice Exceptional (2E) Learners Professional Development Certification, Level 3


Life Experience


  • 15 years - public K-12 teacher: worked with parents &  families of diverse neurological, cultural, & socioeconomic backgrounds.

  • 10 years - Education Specialist in public, home-based independent study charter schools - supported a diverse population of homeschooling & alternative schooling families.

  • Hands-on training in neurodivergence -  to better understand her own autistic son &  support students in the classroom.

  • Therapist in a residential drug addiction & recovery center - learned a cutting-edge treatment approach that integrates the mind, body, & spirit.

  • Therapist in a community mental health center -  within a framework of harm reduction & a focus on the well-being of multicultural individuals, couples, & families.

  • Various spiritual healing/personal growth retreats & training symposiums over the past three decades, covering music, art, dance/movement, poetry/writing, & drama therapies.




  • Bachelors in Clinical Psychology (SJSU, San Jose, CA,1993)

  • K12 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (CA, 1997)

  • Masters in Counseling Psychology/Emphasis in Depth Psychotherapy (Pacifica Graduate Institute; Montecito, CA, 2020)

  • Professional development in human development and learning, including social-emotional development, neurodiversity, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) parent and family education, and drug and alcohol counseling (ongoing)


More about Rachael


  • Helps parents reflect on their understanding of neurodiversity, parenting styles, & educational background - to find common ground

  • Understands the challenges of parents who navigate  “twice exceptional” (2E) combinations of giftedness & autism

  • Specializes in supporting parents of neurodivergent teens/young adults as they find their way into adulthood

  • Supports neurodiverse families who use various educational modalities, including Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Self Directed Learning (Unschooling), School-at-Home, Project-Based Learning, Waldorf/Steiner, & Reggio Emilia.

  • LGBTQIA+ allied

  • Integrates the use of metaphor, symbol, & imagination to deepen the therapeutic process &  help family members of all neurotypes relate to each other in a non-pathologizing way

  • Appreciates the potential of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey as a guide for neurodiverse young adults & their parents

Rachael's Story

As a child of the 70s, I had little understanding of neurodivergence until well into adulthood - through my firstborn son’s journey with autism. The world I grew up in didn't grasp the vast diversity of the human mind the way it does now. Through the first two decades of this new millennium, I observed both subtle and profound changes in how our society accepts and responds to neurodivergence.

As a teacher, I helped parents and families with neurodivergent children of all ages and stages navigate the complicated maze of diagnoses, IEPs, and services.

As a late-diagnosed neurodivergent person myself (ADHD), I  addressed my own previously unconscious shadows and relational vulnerabilities, engaging in an ongoing process of self-healing.

Now, as a therapist, I help neurodiverse parents and families support and advocate for each other and themselves in this ever-changing, increasingly complex world. 

Main Areas of Focus

“One of the cruelest tricks our culture plays on autistic people is that it makes us strangers to ourselves. We grow up knowing we're different, but that difference is defined for us in terms of an absence of neurotypicality, not as the presence of another equally valid way of being.”

― Julia Bascom, Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking

Parenting in Neurodiverse Families 

Rachael’s work with parents in neurodiverse families integrates four distinct areas of psychology: neurobiology, attachment theory, emotion, and relationship-based discipline.  Through this integration, she shows struggling families a clear point of entry and provides support that is logical, doable, and highly effective.

When one or more family members are on the autism spectrum or are otherwise neurodivergent, it can add an extra layer of complication. It is important to remember that each family member has the same need to be heard and understood.

Rachael understands that when each family member feels emotionally secure in family discussions they are collectively more able to discuss issues and disclose feelings. When all members feel heard, understood, and validated, the family can work together to build individual relationships between family members and find solutions to problems.

Parenting Neurodivergent Teens and Young Adults

Autistic teens and young adults often need guidance and support from their parents with basic adult endeavors like finding employment, considering college or vocational programs, living independently and connecting socially.

Rachael supports parents as their neurodivergent children move toward adulthood. She focuses on maintaining a healthy parent/child relationship and on keeping the lines of communication open. 


Rachael empowers parents to gently examine the beliefs they’re holding on to about what their neurodivergent child’s adult life “should” look like and guides them toward reimagining what’s possible. She helps parents take time to support themselves and each other as they reflect on the next practical steps for helping their neurodivergent young adult children adjust to adulthood and thrive in their unique ways.


Rachael appreciates the particular challenges that the presence of neurodivergence can bring to the already complicated reality of co-parenting. She works with individuals, families, and divorced or separated parents to create and sustain a functional co-parenting relationship.


To complement her humanistic, attachment-focused style, Rachael sources much of her approach to co-parenting and working with separated parents from her own experience with co-parenting, augmented by consultation and training in conflict resolution through the Center for Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

Other Areas of Focus


  • Neurodiverse Relationships (couples)

  • Reconciling Incompatible Educational Philosophies within Families

  • Grief and Loss

  • Post Traumatic Growth

  • Depression and Anxiety

  • Separation and Divorce

  • Addiction and Recovery (Harm Reduction Model)

  • Recovery from Codependency




  • Couples

  • Families

  • Parents of College/Job bound Autistic Young Adults




Rachael’s practice is primarily  informed  by Rogerian Person Centered Psychotherapy, Depth/Archetypal Psychotherapy, Relational Gestalt, & Internal Family Systems Therapy.

She also has a strong working knowledge of several modalities, including:


  • Emotion Focused Therapy

  • Emotion Focused Family Therapy

  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy/Somatics

  • NeuroAffectiveRelational Model (NARM) for complex trauma

  • Motivational Interviewing

  • CBT & DBT




  • Registered Associate, MFTA # 132380

  • Supervised by Dr. Harry Motro, LMFT #53452

  • Employed by New Path Couples Therapy Inc.


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