Heather Leslie-Swan

Theoretical and Clinical Basis for ASD

C.G. Jung’s notations in relation to emotions are well-known and respected. However, he also stated that we need a ‘laboratory’ through which to amplify understanding of psychological processes, suggesting that we would learn more with time.

In the 1940s Hans Asperger detailed his studies with children of otherwise normal intellectual and physical development who could not form adequate communications and therefore relationships with others. His work formed the basis of what are now defined as Autism Spectrum Disorders, with levels of intensity primarily correlating with levels of interpersonal relationship dysfunctionality, resulting in social isolation, depression, and often suicide. Basically, it seemed that feeling as a valuing function and as emotions arising from bodily connection appeared deficient or absent.

Much has been written in relation to Attachment Theory (Fordham, Bowlby) and its variations (Neumann) as well as relatively contemporary theorists (Panksepp, Schore, Knox, Barron-Cohen, Attwood) which underscore the developmental absence of congruent or authentic relational and emotionally responsive expression. It is clear that deficiencies in Theory of Mind significantly impact the individual’s ability to empathise, to feel, to feel as another might, and therefore to utilize relationship as a source of self-differentiation.

It is posited in this paper that regardless of the dysfunctionality of the identifiable personality disorder of ASD 1-3, ie. being on the autism spectrum and therefore suffering significant absence of competence to relate to others, the Soul persists.

This paper will amplify the theoretical basis of the Autistic Spectrum in so far as it impacts the individual’s competence to ‘feel’. It will then describe through actual case material that utilization of the practices of Jungian Analytical Psychology, augmented by Jungian Sandplay Therapy, that the suffering individual can formulate a sense of Self, a self-reflective perspective, and amelioration of suffering. In short, the edict “I feel, therefore I am” is subject to circumvention.

The presentation will include dreams, artistic expressions and sandplay images which will consolidate appreciation of a patient’s achievement, as well as other evidence of progress through engagement with analytical psychology.


Qualifications include

  • Diploma, Analytical Psychology, CG Jung Institute, Zurich
  • Masters in Applied Psychotherapy, UTS, Sydney
  • Post-Grad Dip Counselling, Institute of Counselling New South Wales
  • Post-Grad Dip Communications Management, University of Technology, Sydney
  • BAB/SAB Law (Sydney University)
  • Ethics Educator, Josephson Institute of Ethics, CA, USA
  • Myers-Briggs certified practitioner ITD

I am a founding fellow of the Australia New Zealand Sandplay Therapy Institute.


Publications include local professional journal articles and seminar papers.. ‘The Australian Handbook of Jungian Sandplay Therapy’ is in production.


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