Look at me when I'm talking to you: A psychotherapeutic exploration into working with adults with high functioning autism/Asperger's

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Kerins, Ruth
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Studies indicate that the rates of diagnosis of ASD are rising. Despite the fact that it is a lifelong disorder, much of the current literature focuses on ASD in childhood. There is no consensus on its treatment in adulthood, and just a small body of literature exists around psychotherapy as a medium of working with adults with High Functioning Autism/Asperger’s. Using Thematic Analysis, this qualitative study offers an insight into the work of five psychotherapists who work specifically with adults in this field. Three themes emerged from this study: “the therapeutic relationship”, “challenges within therapy” and “the creativity of the therapeutic process”. The findings of the research indicated that although working with adults with HFA/AS brings challenges to traditional psychotherapy; the very nature of psychotherapy lends itself to the malleability that is required to work in this area. A willingness to be flexible, a viewpoint of ASD as a way-of –being as opposed to a diagnosis, and the openness towards incorporating an educational aspect to the therapeutic work were found to be factors necessary for psychotherapists working in this area.