Asperger Syndrome and Psychotherapy: Understanding Asperger Perspectives

By Myles, Brenda Smith | American Journal of Psychotherapy, January 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Asperger Syndrome and Psychotherapy: Understanding Asperger Perspectives


Myles, Brenda Smith, American Journal of Psychotherapy


PAULA JACOBSEN: Asperger Syndrome and Psychotherapy: Understanding Asperger Perspectives. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2003, 171 pp., $19.95, ISBN 1-84310-743-0.

Children and youths with Asperger Syndrome often present a profile that is challenging for psychotherapists to understand. Because of the increase in this population, we need more resources that provide insight into persons with Asperger Syndrome in a way that is useful for the therapeutic community. Compounded by a lack of discussion in university clinical coursework, Asperger Syndrome remains an enigma and psychotherapists are left to glean information from other disciplines, such as education, and apply it to their practice. Paula Jacobsen has attempted to fill this void with the publication of her book, Asperger Syndrome and Psychotherapy: Understanding Asperger Perspectives.

This easy-to-understand, yet comprehensive book focuses on a theory of mind and the salient characteristics of persons with Asperger Syndrome that are relevant to psychotherapists: (a) executive function, (b) central coherence, (c) perspective taking, and (d) communication. In addition, she discusses commonly occurring issues, such as response time, lack of eye contact, repetitive behaviors, and poor peer relationships. Jacobsen succinctly explains each topic, providing examples of each relative to children and youths with Asperger Syndrome on her caseload. These brief, real-life scenarios identify and define the behavioral or social challenge experienced by the individual and describe her approach to helping the child or youth.

Jacobsen's approach to dealing with individuals with Asperger Syndrome clearly reveals that "she gets it"-that she understands the nature of this syndrome. Her therapeutic method is consistent: understand the perspective of the client with Asperger Syndrome, communicate this perspective to the client, and finally, work together to find a reasonable awareness, solution, or acceptance. …

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