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Theories of Counseling: Adlerian Theory

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Copyright Allyn & Bacon 2004

Adlerian Theory
History of Adlerian Theory

Inspired by Freudian psychoanalysis. Founded by Alfred Adler, championed in America by Rudolf Dreikurs. Dissemination throughout American elementary schools during the guidance movement by Don Dinkmeyer.

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Adlerian Theory
Basic Tenets of Adlerian Theory

Inferiority vs. superiority. Humans are constantly becoming. It is holistic and phenomenological . Society is viewed as teleological.

Adlerians are considered to be technical eclectives.


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Adlerian Theory
Theory of Personality

The person is viewed as a unified organism. Humans are motivated by social interest. People want to belong. Life Tasks: Friendship, occupation, love, spirituality, understanding the individual self ( I and the me).

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Adlerian Theory
Theory of Personality (Continued)

Nomothetic Principles:

The basic dynamic force is striving for a fictional goalsuperiority. Successful adaptation to life depends upon the degree of social interest in goal striving. Goal striving may be considered active and can be considered according to type.

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Adlerian Theory
Theory of Personality (Continued)

Fictional Goals: The outcome of unconscious notions that have no counterpart in reality.

The are concerned with the future. They start early in life--as young as infancy. Fictional conceptualizations become the first goals of what will become lifestyle. Fictional goals are our attempt to belong and be significant in the eyes of others.
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Adlerian Theory
Theory of Personality (Continued) Types of People

Ruling: Is dominant in relationships. Getting: Is expectant and dependent. Avoiding: Shies away from problems. Driving: Is achievement oriented. Controlling: Likes order and certainty. Being victimized or martyred: Both like suffering. Being good: Likes being competent and better. Being socially useful: Cooperative and humble.
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Adlerian Theory
Theory of Personality (Continued)
Idiographic Principles Everyone has his or her own style of life.

Style of life is the overall pattern that affects a persons thinking, feeling and behaving.

Perception guides behavior.

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Adlerian Theory
Nature of Maladjustment

A person has a mistaken opinion of himself or herself and of the world. A person engages in abnormal behavior to protect his or her opinion of self. A person will do this when threatened with failure and insecurity. The person becomes self-centered rather than other-centered. The individual is unconscious of these events.
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Adlerian Theory
Nature of Maladjustment (continued)

Inferiority complex: The individual is overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy. Family constellation: Mediates the genetic and constitutional factors brought by the child and the cultural factors that influence the child. Safeguarding: Symptoms are developed for the purpose of safeguarding the fictional goal.

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Adlerian Theory
The Counseling Process

The Client-Counseling Relationship: Collaborative, egalitarian, respectful and cooperative. Understanding the Client: How is the client behaving? What does the client gain from this behavior? Why does the client do this in this manner? Assessment and Analysis: Family Atmosphere and Constellation, Birth Order, Early Recollections, Dreams, and Priorities.

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Adlerian Theory
The Counseling Process (continued)

Insight and Interpretation: Helps the client see his or her priority and ask whether or not the price for achieving it is worth paying. Reorientation: Counselor offers alternative ideas or beliefs for the clients consideration. Prescribing New Behavioral Rituals: The client is assigned homework that engages him or her in repetitive acts to reinforce the clients new belief system, behaviors and rules of interaction.

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Adlerian Theory
Strategies for Helping Clients

Restatement: Restating the clients words to form clarity and convey understanding. Reflection: Restating the clients words to give deeper meaning regarding the underlying feeling. Guesses, Hunches, Hypotheses: Making statements to explain what is happening.

Questioning: To get a better understanding but also reframe the symptoms for the client.
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Adlerian Theory
Strategies for Helping Clients (continued)

Interpretation: Takes guesses, hunches and hypotheses one step further. Focuses on the whys of behavior. Nonverbal Behavior: Adlerians bring the clients nonverbal behavior to the attention of the client and interpret it. Immediacy: Dealing with what is in the here and now. Active Wondering: Proposes an alternative to the presenting problem.

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Adlerian Theory
Strategies for Helping Clients (continued)

Confrontation: Pointing out discrepancies between what the client says and what the client does. Paradoxical Intention: Asking the client to amplify target behavior to show the client how ridiculous it is. Creating Images: Asks the client to imagine a ridiculous scene as he or she enters into a threatening situation.

Asking The Question: If your problem were to disappear overnight, how would things be different?
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Adlerian Theory
Strategies for Helping Clients (continued)

Catching Oneself: Having the client catch himself or herself when engaging in irrational behavior. Acting As If: Acting out a role that the client thought impossible. Spitting in the Soup: Spoiling the game of the client. Encouragement: Promotes client self-awareness. Clients arent sick but only discouraged.

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Adlerian Theory
Strategies for Helping Clients (continued)

Midas Technique: Exaggerating the clients neurotic demands. Pleasing Someone: Helps put the client back into society. The client is instructed to go out and do something nice for someone else. Avoiding the Tar Baby: Acting contrary to what the client expects.

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Adlerian Theory
Advantages

of Adlerian Theory

It can be used for numerous issues and disorders. Uses encouragement. It is phenomenological. It does not consider people to be predisposed to anything.

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Adlerian Theory
Disadvantages of Adlerian Theory

The amount of family and lifestyle information that is collected. Sometimes difficult to do the interpretations, especially the dreams. Adlerian therapy works best with highly verbal and intelligent clients. This might leave out many people who do not fit that category. Might be too lengthy for managed care. Adlerians do not like to make diagnoses as it labels people.

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Adlerian Theory
Adlerian Theory and Diversity

Adlerians were pioneers in multiculturalism. Adlerian relationships are equitable, cooperative, and empathic. Adlerian theorys focus on inferiority is understanding of the disenfranchised. Adlerian theory can be used successful with many diverse groups.

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Resources
Ivey, A. E., DAndrea, M., Ivey, M. B. and Morgan, L. S. (2002). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: A multicultural perspective, 5th ed. Boston, MA.: Allyn & Bacon. James, R. K. & Gilliland, B. E. (2003). Theories and strategies in counseling and psychotherapy, 5th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Kottler, J. A. (2002). Theories in counseling and therapy: An experiential approach. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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