An interview with Maxine Aston

Maxine Aston is a BACP accredited counsellor and has an MSc in Health Psychology. Maxine is also qualified as a supervisor and a teacher in Adult Education. Maxine runs her own Counselling Centre where she specialises in working with individuals, couples and families affected by Asperger syndrome, she has specialised in this area since 1998. Maxine is one of the few professionals working with adults in relationships and also able to offer assessments for those seeking to discover if they are on the Spectrum.

Maxine  will be delivering her CPD workshop with Wimbledon Guild Counselling Training : Asperger Syndrome: Working With Individuals and Couples on Saturday Sat 3 November

Maxine4What drew you to specialise in working with clients who have Asperger’s?

My journey into the world of Asperger’s syndrome began over twenty years ago. At the time I was working as a counsellor for Coventry Relate and studying towards a degree in Psychology at Coventry University. At the University we were shown a video of a couple in which one of the partners had been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS). Little was known about Asperger syndrome at the time as it had only just appeared in the DSM IV, and even less was known on how it affected intimate relationships. I found the subject fascinating and recognised the signs in a couple I was seeing for counselling. I bravely mentioned my thoughts to them and the gentleman in the couple went on to be diagnosed with AS. It made the difference between them staying together or not. This inspired me to continue researching the impact of AS within adult relationships and how to best support those with AS and their families in therapy.

Do you feel that there is enough awareness for health care professionals on how to support clients on the Autistic Spectrum?

No, when I first began in this area there was very little if any support being offered and even now after so many years the support for adults with AS and their partners is woefully inadequate. Counsellors will be front liners for couples and individuals struggled to make relationships work and being offered the right support and understanding can make a huge difference as to whether the relationship works. I believe it should be incorporated onto all counsellor and therapist training modules as I doubt there is a counsellor out there who has not worked with someone on the spectrum, even though they may not have been aware at the time.

Are there any books you would recommend for therapist wanting to work more effectively with clients with Asperger’s?

When I wrote the Other Half of Asperger Syndrome eighteen years ago it was the first book published that had explored the area of relationships and Asperger syndrome. Since then there has been an avalanche of books written. Most of them will be listed on the Jessica Kingsley Website:

In addition, I have written many articles on the topic which can be accessed on my website

What would you hope delegates will take away from your CPD day at Wimbledon Guild

I hope that delegates will take away a better understanding of what it means to have Asperger syndrome and how this will affect both the individual and their family.

It is all about difference and as I quoted in my Couples Workshop ‘Difference can only feel threatening if it exists in the absence of acceptance and understanding’.

I believe we have an ethical obligation to be able to accept and understand difference in our work and to help, educate and support our clients to be able to do the same.