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Adlerian Theory

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  1. Adlerian Theory

  2. Birth to 6 years of age • Adler holds that the individual begine to form an approach to life during this time.

  3. Alfred Adler’s Individual Psychology • A phenomenological approach • Social interest is stressed • Birth order and sibling relationships • Therapy as teaching, informing and encouraging • Basic mistakes in the client’s private logic • The therapeutic relationship — a collaborative partnership Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 5 (1)

  4. Major philosophies and nature of humans • Focuses on inferiority feelings, which are normal • What is important is the capacity to interpret, influence and create events • Individuals cane become whatever they want to be • Adlerian Individual psychology is that personality can only be understood holistically and systemically; that is the individual is seen as an indivisible whole, born, reaered and living in specific familial, social and cultural contexts (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  5. The Phenomenological Approach • Adlerians attempt to view the world from the client’s subjective frame of reference • How life is in reality is less important than how the individual believes life to be • It is not the childhood experiences that are crucial – it is our present interpretation of these events • Unconscious instincts and our past do not determine our behavior Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 5 (2)

  6. Basic propositions • Basic force behind human activity is striving from perceived negative to hoped-for positive—inferiority to superiority • Each individual strives in a particular direction for a unique goal or ideal self—a unique creation of the person. Because it is an ideal, the goal is also fictional. • Aspiring to high social interest is the key to human productivity and happiness. Social interest must be nurtured or the individual’s faulty perceptions of him- or herself can result in discouraged, self-defeating behaviors (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  7. Basic propositions • The goal is the key to understanding the individual. • There is no inconsistency in the individual. All psychological processes are consistently directed toward the goal. The goal is the individual’s lifestyle and is firmly established at an early age. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  8. Basic Propositions • Drives are not discrete, nor are divisions between the conscious and unconscious. They are only components of a unified system. • The individual’s perceptions of self and the world and the subsequent interpretation of those perceptions are all aspects of the lifestyle, which is the cognitive map he or she uses to guide hi- or herself in approaching basic life tasks. • The individual cannot be seen as separate from the social situation. The two are integral. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  9. Basic Propositions • All important life problems are social problems. All values become social values. • Socialization is not gained by external duress but is an innate human ability that needs to be developed. • Maladjustment is characterized by increased inferiority feelings. • Unsuccessful coping with basic life tasks is a sign of discouragement. It can be overcome anytime in life if the individual chooses to do so. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  10. Adlerian theory differs from Freudian theory in four distinct ways: • Social urges take precedence over sexual urges in personality development. • Consciousness rather than unconsciousness is the primary source of ideas and values. • The determinants of behavior consist of more than just one’s genetic endowment or early sexual impressions. • Normal psychological development is the model of choice rather than varying degrees (or lack thereof) of mental illness. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  11. Major personality constructs • Person is viewed as a unified organism (individual psychology) and is motivated primarily by social interest (social psychology). (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  12. Social Interest • Adler’s most significant and distinctive concept • Refers to an individual’s attitude toward and awareness of being a part of the human community • Mental health is measured by the degree to which we successfully share with others and are concerned with their welfare • Happiness and success are largely related to social connectedness Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 5 (3)

  13. Nature of “maladaptivity” • For Adler, the obsessive-compulsive person is the prototype of all neurosis. • An individual has a mistaken opinion of self and the world. • The individual will resort to various forms of abnormal behavior aimed at safeguarding his or her opinion of self. • Such safeguarding occurs when the individual is confronted with situations he or she feels will be met unsuccessfully. • The mistake consists of being self-centered rather than taking humankind into account. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  14. Nature of “maladaptivity” • Rooted in the inferiority complex (when the individual is overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy and becomes incapable of development). Family constellation (including birth order, atmosphere, personality characteristics of family members, etc.) contributes to adaptivity/maladaptivity. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  15. Major personality constructs • From birth to adulthood, all behaviors may be construed to have social meaning—“wanting to belong”—whether in terms of family, significant others, or professional or social groups. • Fundamental equality among all persons is cornerstone of Adlerian theory. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  16. Basic Principles • Life tasks: Primary tasks in life are striving toward belonging in society, friendship, occupation and love. (Later added spirituality) (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  17. Nomothetic (apply to all persons) Principles: • The basic dynamic force is striving for a fictional goal—one of superiority. • Successful adaptation to life depends on the degree of social interest in goal striving; • Goal striving may be considered more or less active and can be considered according to type. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  18. Fictional Goals • How individuals tackle their problems with varying degrees of activity and can be considered according to that degree and type. Types are: • Ruling: Individual is dominant in relationships—much activity but little social interest. • Getting: Individual expects things from others and is dependent on them—little activity and little social interest. • Avoiding: Individual shies away from problems—little activity and social interest. • Driving: Individual wants to achieve. Total success or nothingness are the only alternatives—much activity and little social interest. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  19. Fictional Goals • Controlling: Individual likes order—his or her own order—great deal of activity (in keeping the unexpected to a minimum) and minimal social interest (because others are constantly disrupting the individual’s plans). • Being victimized or martyred: victims have diminished activity and interest, martyrs have increased activity and interest. • Being good: Individual satisfies his or her sense of superiority by excelling in whatever area they undertake—heightened activity and interest. • Being socially useful: Individual cooperates with others and contributes to their social well-being without self-aggrandizement—activity and social interest are both great and positive. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  20. Birth Order • Adler’s five psychological positions: 1) Oldest child – receives more attention, spoiled, center of attention 2) Second of only two – behaves as if in a race, often opposite to first child 3) Middle – often feels squeezed out 4) Youngest – the baby 5) Only – does not learn to share or cooperate with other children, learns to deal with adults Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 5 (4)

  21. Major goals of counseling • To help the client become objective. • To help client realize their creativity. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  22. Major techniques/strategies • Four phases of counseling process: • 1: Establishing the relationship • Based on sense of deep caring, involvement, friendship • Person to person contact w. clts rather than starting with “the problem” • Create effective contact to help clts become aware of their assets and strengths. • Attending, and listening with empathy is crucial (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  23. Phase 2: Exploring the Individuals Dynamics • Subjective interview: the counselor helps the client to tell his story as completely as possible • Subjective interviews treat clients as experts of their own lives • The counselor is “lifestyle investigator”

  24. Phase 2: cont. • Objective Interview seeks to discover information about: • How problems in the clts life began • Any precipitating events • A medical history (including meds) • A social history • The reasons the clt chose therapy now • The person’;s coping w/ life tasks • Lifestyle assessment

  25. Family Constellation • Family of origin has a central impact on an individuals personality. • Some questions to explore: • Who was the favorite? • What was yoru fathers’s relatinship w/ children? • Mothers? • What were you like as a child? • More on pge. 106

  26. Early Recollections • As assessment procedure • Client provides the earliest childhood memory( age , event, feelings, etc.) • It is a one time occurrence pictured by the client in clear detail

  27. Different Purposes of Early Recollections • Assessment of persons convictions about self and others, life, ethics’ • Assessment of clients stance in relation to the counseling session and the counseling relationship • Verification of coping patterns • Assessment of individual strengths, assets and interfering ideas

  28. Phase 3: Encouraging Self Understanding and Insight • Almost everything in human life has a purpose • Self understanding happens when hidden purposes and goals of behavior are made conscious. • Counselor should suggest hunches or thoughts not what is…

  29. Phase 4: Helping with Reorientation • Focuses on helping people discover new and more functional alternatives. • Clts are encouraged and challenged to take reisks and make changes in their life

  30. Encouragement: • What one is doing is more important than how one is doing. • The present is more the focus than the past or the future. • The deed is what is important, rather than the doer. • The effort, rather than the outcome, is to be emphasized. • Intrinsic motivation, such as satisfaction, enjoyment, and challenge, is more worthwhile than extrinsic payoffs. • What is being learned is more important than what is not being learned. • What is being done correctly is more important than what is being done incorrectly.

  31. Encouragement • Encouragement is the most powerful method available for changing a person’s beliefs • Helps build self-confidence and stimulates courage • Discouragement is the basic condition that prevents people from functioning • Clients are encouraged to recognize that they have the power to choose and to act differently Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 5 (5)

  32. Major roles of counselor and client • The primary role of the counselor is to apprise the client of mistaken goals that lead to self-defeating behavior and to help the client broaden his or her social interest so that self-centeredness, egotism, and isolation are expunged in favor of sincere, meaningful, and positive interpersonal relationships. A holistic view of the client is taken by the counselor who is to pull the client into his or her future world of positive interpersonal relationships. • In Adlerian theory, the counselor is a colleague to the client in the process. (Gilliland & James, 1998)

  33. Multicultural application • Addresses social equality issues and social embeddedness of humans • Clients are encouraged to define themselves within their social environment • Process is grounded within clients culture and worldview • Adler was one of the first psychologists to advocate equality for women • Fin in different cultures opportunities for viewing the self, others, and the world in multidimensional ways

  34. Limitations • Research on effectiveness is limited • Limited use for clts seeking immediate solutions to their problems • Limited for clts who have little interest in exploring early childhood experiences, memories and dreams • Limited effectiveness w/ clts who do not understand the purpose of exploring details of a lifestyle analysis dealing with current probs.

  35. Multicultural limitations • Could be viewed as intrusive and inappropriate to explore childhood and family information • Some cultures may see counselor as expert when Adlerian therapist do not veiw self this way