Asperger Syndrome and Psychotherapy: Understanding Asperger Perspectives

By Paula Jacobsen | Go to book overview

6
Adults and Family Members

In working with adults and couples, it is very easy to misunderstand the meaning of behavior and language when one of the partners has Asperger Syndrome. If a therapist is unaware of Asperger Syndrome, or does not consider it, the therapist may easily ascribe negative intention, lack of caring, or a true narcissistic disorder to the Asperger partner. That perspective can lead the therapist to lose hope for the relationship. It can interfere with the recognition of the attachment of both partners and the positive aspects of the relationship. Recognizing this is very important in individual therapeutic work around a couple's relationship issues.

In the individual treatment of the non-Asperger spouse (generally, but not always, a woman), it is necessary that the therapist recognize the meaning and intent of communications and behavior to each. It is important, but not sufficient, to recognize the effect of communication and behavior on each other. It is important, but not sufficient, to explore the meaning of the partner's actions and words, to the patient. When the partner has Asperger Syndrome, clinical work requires an understanding of the intention of what has been said or done. That is an important aspect of understanding the perspective of each of the partners. The commonly described differences in thinking and communication between men and women do not adequately explain the differences in cognitive processing and their meaning for communication when one partner has Asperger Syndrome.

The therapeutic work can include learning about theory of mind and central coherence issues, and exploring the relevance of these to the relationship. This often enables patients to experience their partners and themselves in a different way. They may be disappointed for a while, and exploring those very real feelings is another important part of the clinical work, but they may

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