Adlerian Lifestyle Counseling: Practice and Research

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Jones-Smith writes that Adler also found that a counselor should not view a client as different parts of a whole but as a complete unity i. To stress on the indivisibility of a person as a unit, Adler founded the theory of personality on the following concepts. For example, if a child gains acceptance in the society, they develop the ability to empathize with others i. The second concept of Adlerian psychology is Feelings of Inferiority.

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Adler was of the opinion that every human development journey begins with a sense of inadequacy or inferiority due to the dependence on others for survival. Inferiority complex is when a person views his abilities as less adequate compared to those of other individuals. For example, a child may consider himself less athletic or intelligent compared to his siblings.


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The result is a personal presentation of a weak character incapable of handling problems in the society. The feelings of inferiority should be used to propel growth and development Jones-Smith, Thirdly, individuals try to compensate any feelings of inadequacy by striving for superiority. Striving for Superiority enables a person to overcome obstacles, gain power and status, conquer self-doubts and arrive at a positive state. Adler insisted on the importance of distinguishing striving for superiority and a superiority complex.

Adlerian Lifestyle Counseling: Practice and Research by Warren R. Rule

While striving for superiority does not mask the feelings of inferiority but strives to achieve perfection positively, a superiority complex is a negative trait where a person inflates their self-importance to hide insecurities Jones-Smith, A skilled Adlerian counselor should distinguish the two concepts. The growth and forward movement of life is a future-oriented strive towards a fictional goal one sets consciously or unconsciously.

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People who are mentally healthy strive towards a realistic goal of achieving useful social significance or overcoming the inferior qualities. Individuals who are mentally unhealthy, like those who seek psychiatric services, often have unrealistic goals of exaggerated importance of being superior to others. The sixth concept of Adler psychology was the basis for disagreement between Adler and Sigmund Freud. Different parts don't make a person, but each entity and every personality point contribute to the whole Adler Graduate School, Finally, mental health is the mission concept of Adlerian counseling.

The theory enables one to gain connectedness and a will to develop oneself to contribute to the welfare of others. There are four phases of the therapeutic process that cater for four primary objectives of Adlerian counseling Corey, The stages are not linear but are interwoven to achieve maximum results. Firstly, an Adlerian counselor should establish a proper therapeutic relationship with the client. Adlerian therapist develops a person-to-person contact with an individual instead of beginning with a definition of the issues at hand. The Adlerian creates a relationship by listening to the client with the aim of responding appropriately which shows respect and understanding.

The assessment should not box the client into a preconceived model but should focus on understanding the social and cultural context of an individual. The third technique involves a practitioner interpreting the findings of the assessment through the encouragement of self-understanding and insight. For example, a counselor can use appropriate disclosures and answers to questions to help the client gain insight into the problem. The final phase is where the therapist employs the skills and personal knowledge of Adlerian counseling theory to reorient and re-educate the client.

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Corey writes that to achieve the task, the therapist engages the customer in ways in which they can make new choices, develop good habits and set goals to eliminate dangerous trends. The ultimate objective of Adlerian-based therapy is to attain high levels of self-knowledge and genuine feelings of self-worth.


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At the same time, an Adlerian therapist helps the client eliminate the exaggerated sense of self-protection and inferiority complex and re-educate them on ways of striving for superiority over challenges and pre-formed false notions. Adlerian practitioners apply counseling practice on various fronts.

Firstly, individual therapy procedures employ the techniques and concepts discussed above to achieve the desired results. The structure of Adlerian individual therapy is broken down into five phases which range from the relational understanding between the therapist and the client to reorientation and formation of new habits to curb the problem. Each stage has goals for clients and therapist to achieve as well as goals to be achieved together.

Secondly, the Adlerian approach is used in teaching programs to increase the teacher-student cooperation in classrooms. With the rising number of divorce cases the world over, most couples seek therapy to save marriages and enhance communication. The optimistic and openness approach of Adlerian therapy are essential to assess couple problems and encourage dialogue.

Family and parental programs make good use of Adlerian techniques and therapeutic procedures to build better family relationships. The first and the greatest shortcoming of Adlerian approach to therapy is the difficulty to learn. For example, interpreting dreams proves dream therapy to be difficult and often inaccurate. Thirdly, the dependence of treatment on revisiting and examining early childhood behavior can render progress ineffective since most people rarely like to explore or reveal family history.

Finally, Adlerian practitioners do not like to make a diagnosis, a concept which some critics use to disqualify the effectiveness of the approach in issues such as mental illness. Firstly, the Adlerian theory was the first approach to attempt the explanation of mental disorders in psychological terms. The psychological explanation of mental health problems has had enormous influence in the understanding and treatment of patients in counseling practice at both school and professional level. For example, psychoanalysis aspect of Adlerian theory aims to make the unconscious material conscious so as to enable understanding.

The application gained support from a study in which Adlerian theory analyzed symptoms of patients, and after three years of therapy, the symptoms had reduced significantly Corey, Secondly, Corey is of the opinion that schools and other fields of practice can apply the philosophies of Alfred Adler to explain and predict adult personality based on the elements of early childhood experiences, early relationships, and lifestyle.

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The Stages of Adlerian Therapy

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A rare balance of both practical application and empirical research investigation, Adlerian Lifestyle Counseling provides mental health practitioners with an invaluable resource on the theories of counseling pioneer Alfred Adler. Warren R. Rule and Malachy Bishop, both reputed authorities on rehabilitation counseling and Adlerian theory, present useful practitioner consideration and applications, preparing the reader for a wide variety of counseling situations. Research studies also included in this volume - on topics scanning career choice, parental behavior, personal characteristics, and more - ground these practices in a basic theoretical framework.

What is Adlerian Therapy?

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