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Asperger’s Hypnotherapist Reveals How the Condition has Affected His Life

In this podcast, Dan Jones defines Asperger's Syndrome and tells me how he reframes it as a set of skills


Hypnotherapist Dan Jones has worked with children and families for over 15 years

This week I have the pleasure of sharing with you a podcast I did with hypnotherapist, author, and trainer Dan Jones.

Dan trained with Uncommon Knowledge when we were still running our offline Uncommon hypno/psychotherapy diploma course, training people to become practicing therapists.

Dan is a highly talented therapist and trainer, produces self hypnosis audio sessions, has had over 1.5 million YouTube video views, and has sold over 100,000 books. He has also helped heal and transform the lives of countless one to one clients.

And there is something else about Dan, too. Dan has Asperger’s Syndrome.

But rather than seeing this as a deficit, he describes in his latest book ‘Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis and Me‘ how high functioning autism has helped him develop as a therapist in many ways, even though he has suffered personal disadvantages because of the condition.

I think you are going to find this podcast as fascinating and useful to listen to as I found it to record.

In it, Dan describes exactly what Asperger’s is to him, why people still don’t fully understand it (and some of the discrimination he has faced as a result), what it means for relationships, and, amazingly, how it might help some people see human behaviour more clearly.

You can visit Dan’s website here: http://www.danjoneshypnosis.com/ and purchase his book here.

Podcast: Hypnotherapist Dan Jones talks about his own experiences living with Asperger's Syndrome

Below, you can listen to, or download, my podcast with Dan, as well as read the transcript in the dropdown menu.

Download this as an mp3 file to listen to later

Transcript
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Mark Tyrrell

About Mark Tyrrell

Psychology is my passion. I've been a psychotherapist trainer since 1998, specializing in brief, solution focused approaches. I now teach practitioners all over the world via our online courses.

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  • Tammy Hatherill

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOu for this amazing podcast. I am a hypnotherapist in Australia who has been discriminated against by a hypnotherapy association (who claim they are the Australian ‘leading’ organisation) because of my Asperger’s. I was not given any chance to explain a situation and that infuriates me that I can not give my side of things and it shows how backward this parcitular organisation is…. a real AHA moment for me…. HOWEVER this podcast eases my mind that SOME organisations actually do understand Asperger’s and I feel it’s education which is key! OMG I am forwarding this to everyone!! OMG so thrilled. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

    • Hi Tammy,
      Thank you for sharing your comment, good to hear from another Aspie Hypnotherapist…
      Education is definitely key to helping with understanding.
      All the best
      Dan

  • Hipnoterapeuta e Coach Kaj Var

    Great podcast! I’ve already discovered Dan as a very knowledgedble therapist, even before listening to this podcast. The interesting thing is that Dr. John Kappas theories on Emotional and Physical Sexuality explains Asberger’s really well (if someone might be interested in understanding rational and reserved people.

    • Hi, thank you, I tried to find some information about Dr John Kappas theories. I couldn’t find anything linked to autism/Asperger’s but would be interested in reading something if you have any links or suggestions of where I should look for the information.
      All the best
      Dan

  • Rob

    this is such a great podcast. I know someone who is just like this and has had difficult times at work very similar to these instances – and social situations. This really threw some light on the behaviour which because she is so bright, high achieving and capable has not been diagnosed.

    • Hi Rob,
      Thank you for the comment, the main areas I’ve found myself struggling have been work and social situations. I don’t feel a need to socialise, so this isn’t often a problem, when in social situations I just keep myself to myself and eat or do something to look busy so that people leave me alone, but I couldn’t do this in work. Often in work I would feel like everyone speaks a different language to me. I would do things as I thought I was asked to do them, and find out I had done them all wrong because I hadn’t understood what was being asked of me because it was different to what was actually asked of me… Or I would struggle in situations which others couldn’t understand why I’m struggling because the situations didn’t bother them…It was also difficult being a manager, I struggled to remember to appear empathetic in non-structured settings. I would do so in supervisions and clinical supervisions, but not when staff came to me to talk in the office…
      Being diagnosed has help others understand me better, and helped me talk more openly about myself, who I am and what my world experience is.
      All the best
      Dan

  • Elisa Hylton-Potts

    A great open discussion Dan – congratulations on your insight and ability to self-improve. I have experience with Asperger’s relationships

  • Elisa Hylton-Potts

    Hi Dan – a great discussion and I congratulate you on your insight and ability to seek self-improvement on this scale. I have had similar experiences with others who appear to have aspergers’ traits and the struggle appeared to be for them to breach the gap between improvement simply for selfish reasons versus improvement also to facilitate the comfort of others around them.

    • Hi Elisa,
      I think the natural first direction for anyone is to escape discomfort, and having Autism Spectrum Disorder for me that was initially seeking to control the environment. This for me initially was to escape my environment for a quieter environment, and to then go inside my mind to escape further, and close my eyes, reducing sensory input further still, and focusing on one thing – in my case pinpointing sounds of birds – little did I know as a young child that by doing this I was inadvertently practicing how to meditate and would find this a useful skill throughout my life. As a teenager when I discovered hypnosis my first thought was that it could be a way of controlling my environment by having a way of controlling others. What learning hypnosis actually taught me was how to communicate with others. I generally still don’t enjoy interacting with others unless it is about something I’m interested in, but I can do much better than I used to, and having experience growing up with ASD, as well as spending 15+ years working with children and families and those with ASD allows me to offer helpful perspectives that families don’t necessarily get from many other professionals.
      All the best
      Dan

      • Elisa Hylton-Potts

        Thanks Dan – tbh I think most of us probably don’t enjoy interacting with others unless it’s about something we’re interested in!

  • karen Francis

    Hi Dan – a great podcast. My daughter who is now 16 was recently diagnosed – her symptoms had not been obvious – she seemed to manage well at school and it was mainly at home that stress levels became apparent in major meltdowns. Its interesting that you mention focusing on what they are good at – her memory is amazing! We can laugh now at how she has managed to survive with a Mother who is totally disorganized and generally relies on sarcasm as humour – very tricky for her! Now knowing what I know our relationship has completely changed for the better. There is a need for so much more education and awareness around Aspergers – there is very little out there to help girls – often under-diagnosed because they cover it up at an enormous exhausting cost! It is brilliant that you have spoken about it – the more the merrier! I am going to download this and pass it on to her as I am sure she will find it really helpful. Thank you!

    • Hi Karen,

      Thank you for your comment, there isn’t enough awareness and more importantly understanding. For the last 15+ years I have worked with families and helped families trying to get diagnosis. I know how difficult this can be especially if a child is managing in an area of their life. I know in my area at least for a child to even be considered for a referral to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services the ‘problems’ have to be occurring in all areas of the child’s life to show it isn’t just a parenting thing. I believe parents can often do things differently to make things work well (I’ve done a few guest blog posts for Uncommon Knowledge about parenting, (names of the posts are: ‘Paradoxical Parenting Skills’, ‘Emotional Needs All Parents Need To Know About’, and ‘Keeping Therapy On Track With Parents & Families’) but when the problem isn’t presenting in all areas I don’t believe that is instantly a sign that it is a ‘parenting’ or ‘family dynamics’ issue. It can be a sign that parents could replicate what school for example does. Helping parents with this was part of my reason for writing my book ‘Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis and Me’.

      I think if there are problems at home but not at school it can sometimes be because there is structure and routine at school that isn’t at home – not to say home life has no structure and routine, but few homes are going to have a regimented structure like a school does with start and end times of classes, with a teacher who says ‘this is what we are going to do in this lesson’ and then does what was going to be done in the lesson, then ends by rounding up saying ‘this is what we did in the lesson’.

      I didn’t show obvious signs in school, I had developed coping strategies which involved going inwardly rather than fighting or running away. Often behavioural problems in school are where the child is trying to escape the situation usually due to it being too unpredictable or sensory overload, and if they can’t escape inwardly – which means to most teachers they just perceive you as well behaved (read as not causing problems), blending in, perhaps not saying enough in class, etc. Whereas a child who hasn’t learnt to go inside will try to escape by perhaps trying to leave the class – which they then get told off for, and if they are stopped they may fight to escape. There were some situations I describe in my book where I was prepared to fight because I knew I couldn’t just go inside my mind. One of these was if anyone tried to give me the bumps. I would do whatever I had to to make sure this didn’t happen, I would have no thought for the safety of others at this time, I didn’t think ‘you are my friend so I won’t hurt you’ I just bluntly said if you try to give me the bumps I will do whatever I have to to make sure it doesn’t happen, and I would always try to run first, but if I was grabbed and unable to run I wouldn’t care how much harm I caused as long as I didn’t end up getting the bumps.

      For me (as I can only talk from my experience and my professional experiences) I definitely found there were naughty children in my class so teachers focused more on them, I always felt ignored in school and left school feeling let down by most teachers as I couldn’t communicate to them and almost wanted them to be mind-readers so that they could know what I wanted and needed and they could then help me. Some teachers seemed to understand me and a few sentences from certain teachers have stuck with me and helped me so much in life. But the structure for me was the main thing that let me cope, I just had to do A, B, C. I never asked questions – I didn’t feel comfortable doing this unless a teacher came to me and asked me if I understood things.

      At home was different, I lived in the country or near the beach my whole childhood so I spent a lot of it in the woods or on the beach and rarely at home. At home it was difficult, I have three brothers so I struggled with constant uncertainty. They would also have friends round which means even more uncertainty. With families I’ve worked with where a child/teen has Asperger’s I find many problems are a mismatch of perceptions. So a mother may keep asking the daughter who keeps herself shut in her room ‘are you OK?’ and the daughter keeps getting stressed with the mother for this and retreats more into her room, or is always going out to get away, and so the mum worries more, and tries to communicate more with the daughter, and so the daughter tries to retreat further still, and the situation gets worse. Often the solution to this is for the mother (I’m a strong believer that usually the adults have more knowledge, skill and motivation at making changes that the child/teen so it is easiest for them to look at how they can respond differently) to perhaps ask their daughter if they are alright, and whatever the response – unless it is that they want to talk etc., they then say “if you need me or want to talk I’m just downstairs” (or words to that effect). This lets the daughter know you are there and care, yet puts the control in their hands. If they want to talk they know they can, if they don’t they know they won’t be pressured.

      I definitely think it is about focusing on ‘how can I help?’ and ‘what would help you (in this situation/at home/manage that/etc)?’ and focusing on solutions whilst acknowledging how difficult it is, and finding ways to compromise, while – in a family home especially – acknowledging there will be times when things will be happening even though it will make the child/teen with Asperger’s struggle, and you can work together to minimise the impact but those things will still be happening and there won’t always be an ideal solution – like if a sibling is going to be having a birthday party and there is no way the child/teen with Asperger’s is going to be able to be elsewhere, so they will be in the home even though it means they will struggle. And it is about talking bluntly – but kindly, and openly about these situations and what they can do to minimise the impact (for example with a birthday party could they watch a film wearing headphones in their bedroom, and the parent make a party rule that no children are allowed upstairs)

      Sorry for the loooonnng post. I used to be very blunt with my writing, then a science teacher told me to write everything down as if I was talking with the person having been asked a question that needed an explanation. I now find myself probably writing too much, but I like to try to share what I think will be helpful information.

      All the best

      Dan