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Individual Psychology Alfred Adler

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1 Individual Psychology Alfred Adler
Chapter 3 Adler could be considered developmental theorist: optimistic view of human nature Described as a “soft determinist”: humans can be understood given general principles and laws – but these are only probabilities of what might happen. Social Constructivist: The way that people perceive the world determines their views of reality – there is no SET reality that everyone adheres to. Social Activist: Social change is needed to improve the wellness of people.

2 The Case of James 16-year-old single African American male
Behavior problems that might interfere with adjustment to new foster home Little insight into current problems Admits desire to work on temper and get along better with others Relevant History: Placed in foster care at age 8 due to severe neglect and physical abuse by step father Multiple foster care placements with interim time spent in residential care. Parental rights have been terminated Difficulty at school Fired from job for getting drunk Mother: hx of alcohol abuse Father: deceased Current foster parents getting divorced Interpersonal: Many friends Popular with girls

3 Basic Philosophy Optimistic view of humans Soft-determinism
Social constructivism Sandy’s approach to James: Reflects on the positive nature of humans James appears troubled but likely has the strength and determination to work toward a more positive lifestyle James has created his own view of the world Sandy will work with James to help him change the view of the world that he has created

4 Human Motivation Humans: Innately strive for perfection
Need the support of others Create their own life path Are able to change their life path & goals James probably has strong feelings of inferiority that he works VERY hard to hide People must have a plan to find significance for themselves and feelings for others Striving for Perfection Need to belong Core Motivation: People are pulled by their goals and NOT driven by their instincts. Humans are born feeling inferior – small and weak A psychologist can only know the person through their personal plan to achieve superiority that involves a plan to deal with feelings of inferiority and obtain a certain level of belongingness. Thinking, feeling, behaving, and physiological functioning are integrated

5 Central Constructs Life Style Inferiority Feelings Social interest
Goals Influence of parents/family Social interest Physical problems Discrimination based on sex, race, or class Inferiority Feelings Superiority complex Life Style: A plan that a person develops by the age of 5 or 6 and uses it to guide them through life. Includes their perceptions of the world and their actions in the world. All behavior is purposeful and oriented towards achieving the lifestyle goal. Qualities of the Goals of Lifestyle: the person is not aware of the goal; the goal is not based in external reality but is constructed by the person. Goals develop from the interaction between the need for significance and social interest. Influence of parents/family: Parents/family – models for beliefs, values and interpersonal relationships Birth Order: The position of the child in the family can have a marked impact on development Ordinal position: first, second, third etc. Birth Order: first, middle, last, or only – relates to the psychological position of the child in the family First: Tendency to seek positions of authority, likes rules, and may be conservative; also may have tendency to revolt if he has difficulty accepting the change when subsequent siblings arrive Middle: feel squeezed between older and younger siblings – may feel especially disadvantaged Youngest: the smallest child – may result in the desire to be the best or may become cowardly and hopeless regarding success. Only: like being the center of attention; interact well with adults but not necessarily peers; may have difficulty being independent and may be self-centered – socially useless. Basic Mistakes: Distorted attitudes about self (I am worthless) Distorted attitudes about the world and people (the world is hostile) Distorted goals (perfectionism) Distorted methods of operation (overdoing) Distorted Ideals (the “real man”) Distorted Conclusion: pessimism, ____conquers all, can’t trust people, being a fanatic Social Interest How much does the person care about his social surrounding/society? Observed in what the person contributes to his community The POTENTIAL for social interest is innate – but the potential MUST be nurtured PROBLEMS: Physical problems: society does not typically react to people with physical problems in nurturing ways Discrimination: kids who are discriminated against may learn that the only way to survive is to look out for number one – focus on self instead of society. Inferiority Feelings: Begin when the child is very young Influenced by how the child is treated by others and how he perceives and reacts to the situation Superiority Complex: The person builds a façade of significance that does not include social interest – these folks are screaming out that they feel inferior and are using the air of superiority to escape their problems.

6 Central Constructs Basic Life Tasks
Solving the problem of Communal Life Occupational tasks Love Coping with the self Existential Basic Mistakes Basic Life Tasks: Communal Life: cooperation with other people in society Occupational Tasks: Society needs members to divide up various labor tasks & most people find some type of work, varying in degree that it benefits society. Love: the most intimate devotion toward a partner of the OTHER sex Coping with the self: STOP the warring between perceived good and evil parts of self – we need to find ourselves basically good although we have some expected imperfections. Existential: developing a philosophy of human nature, determining the existence of an after life, and considering the meaning of life.

7 Theory of the Person Healthy Personality
Well-developed social interests Contributes to society Succeeds at the tasks of life Contributes to the community Finds a partner of the other sex Finds useful work The courage to be imperfect

8 Theory of the Person Unhealthy Personality
Safeguarding The individual has the goal of personal superiority & the life style is aimed at protecting self-esteem Discouragement Due to mistaken life styles that are selfish rather than socially oriented Discouragement: lost the courage to proceed on the useful side of life.

9 Types of Psychological Dysfunction
Neurosis Rooted in childhood Organ inferiority Pampered child Neglected child Tendency to evade life tasks Strive for personal superiority The “yes, but” personality Psychosis The goal to be godlike in order to fend off very deep feelings of inferiority Withdraws from others because he does not have the interpersonal skills, occupational interests, and/or confidence to deal with life Organ inferiority: kids become focused on their bodies and can’t see that life meaning is achieved by contributing to others Pampered child: achieves superiority by having others do everything for him Neglected child: didn’t have models of love and cooperation so he never learned these tasks.

10 Nature of Therapy Therapeutic Atmosphere
Faith Client must have faith in the counselor Hope Counselor should encourage the client to accept the challenges of life and therapy Develops in the client as a result of feeling understood Love Client MUST feel that the counselor cares about him Goal of therapist is to understand the client through understanding his lifestyle. Use active listening, empathy, and observation to build a picture of the client’s ways of operating in the world.

11 Nature of Therapy Assessment Formal Adler’s Structured Interview
The Question Dreiker’s Family Constellation Interview Early Recollections Dreams Informal Formal Assessment: obtaining information to understand the lifestyle Adler’s structured interview to assess positive assets, social relationships, interests, and discouraged behaviors. Question: Ask client “What would be different in your life if (the symptom disappeared) Dreikers Family Constellation interview: client describes self, siblings, parents and relationships among family members. Early Recollections: memories of early childhood are considered reflective of current views on life or the lifestyle. Dreams: thought to represent some problem currently confronting the person. Informal Assessment: Every action of the client provides information about the client. Sandy uses an informal assessment to gather information about James that includes his presentation to her; how she experiences him; family life with his biological and foster families; clues for how James strives for superiority; lifestyle goals

12 Nature of Therapy Role of the counselor Role of the client An educator
An encourager Admits own fallibility Models a courageous approach to life Role of the client Learn about faulty lifestyle Goal: Help the client understand and change faulty life style and selfish goals to achieve success in the tasks of life.

13 Nature of Therapy Goals of Therapy Psychoanalytic Constructs
Help client uncover and resolve unconscious conflicts Psychoanalytic Constructs Insight Resistance Transference Countertransference Insight: Gain understanding of the sources of behavior and symptoms as stemming from unresolved unconscious conflicts. Resistance: Actions of the Ego and Superego to keep unconscious material from surfacing Transference: The re creation of a pivotal former relationship with the analyst Countertransference: Conflicts from the counselor’s past are projected into the analytic situation and the therapist loses objectivity. James’ goals for treatment are to: Modify his faulty life style and selfish goals to increase levels of success in the basic life tasks

14 Process of Therapy Establishing the relationship
Analysis and assessment Development of insight Reorientation Establishing the relationship Counselor conveys the certainty that client has power to change Counselor and client establish goals for therapy Analysis and Assessment Counselor begins to understand client’s lifestyle and goals Counselor watches for client’s efforts to achieve goals Development of Insight Client begins to understand lifestyle Client becomes aware of how he chooses to function and why Reorientation Client works with counselor to find ways to behave differently

15 Therapeutic Techniques
Interpretation Counselor uses information to form hypotheses about the client’s lifestyle Encouragement Helps client find his own strengths and recognize his power to affect the world through choices Consequences Natural Logical Acting As If Pushing the Button Catching Oneself Creating Images Pleasing Someone Paradoxical Intention Interpretation Counselor uses information to form hypotheses about the client’s lifestyle Encouragement Helps client find his own strengths and recognize his power to effect the world through choices Natural Consequences: letting events take their course – dirty laundry on the floor example Logical Consequences: result from another person intervening and are based on social rules that are logically related to the undesirable behavior. Acting As If: Whatever the if only is – counselor instructs client to act as if it was true Pushing the Button: Client visualizes pleasant scene and focuses on feeling, then visualizes unpleasant scene and focuses on feeling, then focuses on original pleasant scene and focuses on feeling – teaches client that he can create emotions by choosing what to focus on. Creating Images: client creates images of faulty goals Pleasing someone: confront the client’s faulty life style by advising them to think daily about how to please someone. Paradoxical Intention: clients are encouraged to intensify their symptom in order to increase their awareness of the symptom and its consequences. The client may realize that the symptom is absurd and choose to abandon it.

16 Evaluation Qualities Precise/Testable Empirically valid Stimulating
Research Support Outcome research Theory-testing research Testable: same difficulties as Psychoanalytic Constructs are difficult to operationalize and measure Very difficult to disconfirm constructs – IP can explain almost any pattern of behavior. Empirically valid – some research to support the major constructs and predictions of the theory but little outcome research has been done.

17 Issues of Individual and Cultural Diversity
Pros Recognized effects of class differences Advocated for equality between the sexes Focused on social involvement Cons Stereotypic views of women’s roles Emphasizes individual choice and control View of homosexuality as a “perversion”

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