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Brief Intervention Strategies

The creative freedom inherent in Adlerian counseling demands a variety of strategies that suit the uniqueness of each client and captures the spontaneous therapeutic opportunities the client presents in each session. When this freedom is limited via managed care or other restrictions on help modalities, the Adlerian model can be flexible (Seligman, 2004). Specific techniques used at any one time depend on the counseling direction that is beneficial for a client at the time. According to King and Shelley (2007), Adlerian counseling can be effective short term as well as long term. Though it is based on theory and philosophy, its methods can be understood and practiced by the public and can be applied to prevention as well as growth. As suggested by Watts and Pietrzak (2000), counseling can be based in solution-focused strategies because a client is encouraged by an Adlerian counselor to shift from a focus on problem and failure to a focus on strengths, resources, and potentials.

Four examples of strategies used by contemporary Adlerian researchers and practitioners include (a) Socratic questioning; (b) missing developmental experiences; (c) play therapy with trauma; and (d) a six-step model that integrates role play, art, and cognitive reconstructing. The use of these strategies is founded in the original Adlerian theory and methods.

The Socratic questioning method of leading a client to insight through a series of questions is at the heart of Adlerian counseling (Stein, 2008). It embodies the relationship of equals searching for knowledge and insight in an encouraging and respectful style consistent with Adler's theory. A counselor uses questions to gather information, clarify meaning, and verify feelings. More penetrating, leading questions uncover the deeper understanding of a client's private logic, feelings, and goals. A counselor also explores a client's thinking, feeling, and acting, in both short- and long-term consequences. Throughout the use of this method, new ideas are generated, examined, and evaluated to help the client take steps in a different direchon. The results of this exploration are constantly reviewed. Socratic questioning is also used to evaluate the impact of the client's new direchon and contemplations for change. It places the responsibility with the client. The role of the counselor is that of an assistant, not of a superior expert.

Clients can also be assisted with brief techniques by using missed developmental experiences. For many clients, these missed experiences affect their lives as adults. Some clients need additional, specific interventions to access, stimulate, or change thoughts and feelings. Stein (2008) suggested that guided and eidehc imagery, used in an Adlerian way, can lead to emotional breakthroughs when the client reaches an impasse. Guided imagery can be used to access vivid symbolic mental pictures of significant situations involving chronic feelings of guilt, fear, and resentment. This assists a client in meeting the needs of missed developmental experiences and enables a client to work toward connecting with others and the world.

Another strategy suggested by Morrison (2009) is the use of Adlerian play therapy during the four phases of counseling with traumatized children and family members. She noted that counselors can assist children who have been traumatized by disasters, abuse, or violence to investigate mistaken beliefs and establish a sense of social belonging.

A fourth example of a recent strategy is a six-step model that uses role play, artistic drawings, and cognitive restructuring (Strauch, 2007). Through a collaborative discussion, a counselor and a client can examine missed experiences, alter mistaken thoughts and feelings, and practice new behaviors in the safety of a counseling session. A client can engage in healing experiences that can result in a feeling of community and social interest. When the client is learning and practicing new behaviors, the counselor can offer encouragement and realistic feedback about possible social interactions.

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