Cultivating the Desire for Connection: An Initiatory Journey

Curtin, Beth (2012) Cultivating the Desire for Connection: An Initiatory Journey. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.


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Since the identification of Asperger’s syndrome in 1944 by an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger, and its inception as a diagnosis in the 1990s, the number of children diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome has been dramatically increasing. Those with Asperger’s syndrome are considered to be on the Autism spectrum and typically present with a lack of nonverbal communication skills, empathy, and social understanding. Currently, the diagnostic difference between high functioning Autism and Asperger’s syndrome is minimal. This clinical case study documents the therapeutic progress of a reclusive 13 year-old girl, who chose to create her own imaginary social world with inanimate objects because she was unable to make intimate connections with her peers. This study illuminates the therapeutic struggles that are common when working with clients on the Autism spectrum who have comorbid diagnoses. A multi-modal treatment approach was implemented over the course of three and a half years. In addition to addressing the social deficits that are common in children with ASD, this study incorporates techniques used to support her social anxiety, depression, and attachment struggles. vi A major learning in this study is that attachment struggles and ASD are not mutually exclusive. My client encountered difficulties in connecting with, and having the desire to connect with, her peers. This was due in part to her perspective-taking impairments and her difficulty understanding her social environment due to ASD, and in part because she was adopted from an orphanage in China at the age of nine months. An imperative aspect of the process of working with her was to tease apart and address both her attachment issues and the social difficulties she presented with, due to ASD. Imparting cognitive tools to enhance social skills, utilizing imagination-based practices, and building a strong therapeutic bond made it possible for my client to make significant strides within her social environment. In addition to the above techniques, the myth “Psyche and Eros” was useful as a therapeutic context to bring deeper meaning to my client’s transformative process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Beth Cain Curtin
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 21:49
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 21:49

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