Adlerian Therapy’s Goals

What was Alfred Adler’s role in the world?

Alfred Adler was a physician, psychotherapist, and the founder of Adlerian psychology, also known as Individual Psychology. In his early career, he was one of Sigmund Freud’s colleagues, but later diverged to develop his own psychological theory. In contrast to Freud, who emphasized the role of unconscious drives, Adler focused on conscious factors such as social interests and lifestyle choices. Modern approaches to psychotherapy were shaped by Adler’s theories.

According to Adlerian theory, individuals are interconnected beings influenced by psychological, social, environmental, and physiological factors. According to Adler, the perspective is based on the concept of “Gesellschaftsfühl,” or “community feeling.” The therapist considers how multiple aspects of the client’s life interact to contribute to the current issues rather than treating individual struggles as isolated problems.

It can be useful to understand the dynamics of early family experiences and how they shape an individual’s lifestyle and coping mechanisms through techniques such as the “Family Constellation.”

As a result of using a holistic approach, clients gain a better understanding of their current struggles, allowing them to develop more effective coping strategies.

Adlerian therapy emphasizes the importance of understanding each individual’s unique personality and lifestyle, and the power of human relationships in fostering personal growth. It also emphasizes the importance of understanding and accepting one’s flaws, and the potential for personal growth through self-reflection and self-motivation.

Adlerian therapy is based on the idea that everyone is born with an innate drive for personal growth. It encourages individuals to challenge their assumptions and to develop a sense of self-confidence. It also encourages them to become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. In contrast to other therapies that may focus exclusively on alleviating symptoms, Adlerian therapy utilizes a holistic approach. By addressing underlying beliefs and life goals, it seeks to bring about deep-seated change in an individual’s social context.

Adlerian therapy encourages the individual to become more self-aware and to develop a sense of purpose in life. It also focuses on improving communication and problem-solving skills. Finally, it seeks to empower the individual to take control of their own life.

Adlerian therapy focuses on helping people gain insight into their own behavior and motivations, as well as helping them to develop healthier attitudes and behaviors. It also emphasizes the importance of understanding the individual’s unique social situation and cultural background.

Nevertheless, further research is required, but Adlerian therapy has proven effective in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, interpersonal problems, and anger issues.

The first goal is to promote personal growth

A key component of the approach is the need for individuals to feel competent and independent, emphasizing their unique abilities and potential. In addition to overcoming challenges, it is also important to realize one’s potential and achieve one’s goals.

Therapy Techniques to Facilitate Personal Growth

The Socratic Method: a method for exploring an individual’s beliefs, values, and setting meaningful goals (Advancing Theoretical Foundations of Adlerian Psychology, p. 162).

Guided imagery: This technique helps individuals visualize situations in which they have overcome challenges successfully, which boosts their self-confidence.

Using role-playing scenarios, individuals can practice different responses to situations, resulting in increased flexibility and adaptability.

Early Recollections: An innovative approach to understanding a person’s present lifestyle and coping strategies based on their earliest memories.

Goal 2: Fostering a Sense of Belonging and Community

Goal 3: Promoting Self-Awareness and Self-Understanding

Goal 4: Encouraging the Development of a Healthy Lifestyle

Goal 5: Enhancing Problem-Solving Skills

Goal 6: Cultivating a Positive and Optimistic Attitude

References

Adler, A. (2013b). Understanding Human Nature (Psychology Revivals). Routledge.

Adler, A., Jelliffe, S. Ely. (1917). Study of Organ Inferiority and its Psychical Compensation: A Contribution to Clinical Medicine. New York: Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Company.

Capuzzi, D. & Stauffer, M. D. (2016). Counseling and Psychotherapy: Theories and Interventions. Germany: Wiley.

Stein, H. T. & Edwards, M. E. (2002). Adlerian psychotherapy. In Herson, M. & Sledge, M. H. (1st Ed.), Encyclopedia of Psychotherapy (Vol. 1, pp. 23-31). Netherlands: Elsevier Science.

White, W. A. (1917). The theories of Freud, Jung and Adler: III. The Adlerian concept of the neuroses. The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 12 (3), 168.

Written by:
Leah Selakovic
Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

Psychological research and practice

There is an extremely intricate relationship between psychological research and practice. Psychology borrowed scientific methodology to study non-animate objects like rocks for the exploration of the human mind, akin to natural sciences (Giorgi, 1970; Valle & Halling, 1989). However, this mainstream tradition encountered many difficulties because, unlike other disciplines such as physics, psychologists encounter “very messy” data sets due to substantial individual differences in their research. Furthermore, psychology is currently experiencing what is known as a “replication crisis” (Amrhein et al., 2019; Earp & Trafimow, 2015; Maxwell et al., 2015; Shrout & Rodgers, 2018; Stroebe & Strack, 2014), where the replicability of famous experiments that underpinned the theories taught in psychology textbooks is being questioned.

This crisis prompts us, as science-practitioners, to reconsider the trade-off between experimental control and real-world application, also known as ecological validity (Matthews, 2000). Often, the more relatable a psychological phenomenon is to everyday life, the less replicable it becomes in a laboratory setting because our daily lives are filled with numerous latent variables that potentially create different relationships among them (e.g., additive, interactive, correlating, etc.). Thus, the replicability of the investigated phenomena significantly improves when we focus on “dry” topics, such as the millisecond bottleneck of visual selective attention (Raymond et al., 1992).

Despite the current state of affairs, I am cautiously optimistic that the deliberate shift towards experimental control will reveal more about the causality of pressing mental health issues than ecological validity theory suggests. For instance, we are beginning to reexamine how we analyze data even for highly replicated phenomena, such as attentional capture (Turatto, 2023). This trend might help us better understand the origins of critical individual differences in how we interpret the world, as seen in cases like autism (Sinha et al., 2014).

Please stay tuned for the latest developments in research on this front. I believe that a careful return to basic science will help unravel some of the puzzling phenomena we encounter in everyday life.

References

Amrhein, V., Trafimow, D., & Greenland, S. (2019). Inferential Statistics as Descriptive Statistics: There Is No Replication Crisis if We Don’t Expect Replication. The American Statistician, 73(sup1), 262–270. https://doi.org/10.1080/00031305.2018.1543137

Earp, B. D., & Trafimow, D. (2015). Replication, falsification, and the crisis of confidence in social psychology. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00621

Giorgi, A. (1970). Psychology as a human science; a phenomenologically based approach (1735391). Harper & Row.

Matthews, G. (2000). Human performance: Cognition, stress, and individual differences (11867987). Psychology Press ; Taylor& Francis Group. http://www.loc.gov/catdir/enhancements/fy0648/99087641-d.html

Maxwell, S. E., Lau, M. Y., & Howard, G. S. (2015). Is psychology suffering from a replication crisis? What does “failure to replicate” really mean? American Psychologist, 70(6), 487–498. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0039400

Raymond, J. E., Shapiro, K. L., & Arnell, K. M. (1992). Temporary suppression of visual processing in an RSVP task: An attentional blink? Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance, 18(3), 849–860.

Shrout, P. E., & Rodgers, J. L. (2018). Psychology, Science, and Knowledge Construction: Broadening Perspectives from the Replication Crisis. Annual Review of Psychology, 69(1), 487–510. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-122216-011845

Sinha, P., Kjelgaard, M. M., Gandhi, T. K., Tsourides, K., Cardinaux, A. L., Pantazis, D., Diamond, S. P., & Held, R. M. (2014). Autism as a disorder of prediction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(42), 15220–15225. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1416797111

Stroebe, W., & Strack, F. (2014). The Alleged Crisis and the Illusion of Exact Replication. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9(1), 59–71. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691613514450

Turatto, M. (2023). Habituation (of attentional capture) is not what you think it is. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0001139

Valle, R. S., & Halling, S. (1989). Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology: Exploring the breadth of human experience: With a special section on transpersonal psychology (3384781). Plenum Press.

Written by:
Takashi Obana, PhD
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

School Refusal

School refusal can be a common concern that affects children of all ages. It is defined by a child’s repeated refusal to go into school. There are many reasons why a child may refuse to go into school These include but are not limited to anxiety, bullying, learning difficulties, and social concerns.

If your child is currently struggling with school refusal, it is important to be patient and understanding. It is also advisable to seek professional help if your child’s refusal to go to school is causing significant disruption to their daily life.

Here are some top tips for helping children who are struggling with school refusal:

  • Talk to your child about their feelings. Let them know that it is okay to feel anxious or scared about school. Listen to their concerns and try to understand what is causing their anxiety
  • Create a safe and supportive environment at home. Make sure your child feels loved, accepted and heard. Avoid arguing or fighting with them about school
  • Work in collaboration with the school to develop a plan for your child. This plan may include in school counselling, a limited timetable, support when arriving to school in the mornings, academic support, or social skills training classes
  • Seek professional help if needed. A therapist can help your child to manage their anxiety and develop healthy coping skills

Here are some additional tips that you can try:

  • Help your child by writing down things they are looking forward to at school the next day. This could be a favourite subject, a teacher or a friend
  • Help your child to develop a positive morning routine. This could include getting dressed, eating a healthy breakfast, and mindfulness
  • Set small, achievable goals for your child. For example, you could start by setting a goal of getting your child to go to school for one hour per day
  • Praise your child for their efforts. Even if your child only goes to school for a short period of time, let them know that you are proud of them
  • Avoid forcing your child to go to school. This will only make their anxiety worse

It is important to remember that school refusal is a complex problem. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, by following these tips, you can help your child to overcome their concerns and return to school

Additional tips:

  • Encourage your child to stay connected with their friends and classmates. This could involve inviting friends over for a playdate, participating in hobbies or activities together, or using social media
  • Help your child to develop healthy coping mechanisms. This could include relaxation techniques, mindfulness, exercise, or spending time in nature or with a pet
  • Be patient and supportive. It may take time for your child to overcome their school refusal

References: 

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/06/you-cant-fix-school-refusal-with-tough-love-but-these-steps-might-help

National University Hospital: https://www.nuh.com.sg/our-services/Specialties/Psychological-Medicine/PublishingImages/Pages/IPMDA/School%20Refusal.pdf

Written by:
Renee Butler
Counsellor
SACAC Counselling