Strengths and Limitations of the Adlerian Approach
The strengths of an Adlerian approach for Abby are the encouragement she will receive and the trusting, caring relationship she will build with her therapist. The limitations of this approach have to do with her immediate needs; specifically her acute depressive symptoms and her inability to function in her daily routines. She may need psychopharmacological therapy and possibly short-term inpatient therapy. From a diversity perspective, if Abby's African American culture supports her need for her therapist to function as an expert and provider of solutions, Adlerian therapy may not be the best choice. Additionally, the amount of family and personal information that needs to be collected may be excessive for Abby during her acute symptoms (Corey, 2009).
Abby is a 57-year-old African American female. If the therapist is not African American, consideration must be given to Abby's thoughts, preferences, and ability to develop a close client/therapist relationship with someone culturally different (Corey, 2009). The therapist must be culturally competent and able to identify with her unique circumstances. Because of her difficulty with her husband's medical diagnosis, sensitivity to the effects of cancer among family members is critical. If the therapist is considerably younger than Abby, he or she must understand Abby's developmental stage and her experience as a mature woman.
Ethical and Legal Issues
The gravity of Abby's situation must be assessed immediately. If the therapist has reason to believe Abby is a danger to herself, the therapist must inform the appropriate authorities and arrange for inpatient therapy at an appropriate facility. Duty to warn is a significant responsibility for mental health counselors. Abby's therapist must not fail to intervene if she appears to be a danger to herself, or to others (Simone & Fulero, 2009).
Overall Therapeutic Goal
The overall therapeutic goal for Abby is to form a relationship with her therapist based on mutual respect wherein she can increase her self-awareness, explore her identity, redefine her life goals, and develop her personal strengths (Corey, 2009). Through this exploration, she can develop a new and a more positive outlook on life and herself, understand her personal psychological dynamics, and reorient her self-perspective. It will benefit Abby to discover the internalized emotions that prevent her from being happy and functioning with emotional stability. Overcoming her feelings of discouragement and inferiority created in the past will allow her to function (Corey, 2009). During therapy Abby will learn how to correct her maladapted idea of herself and learn to respect and accept herself (Corey, 2009).
The Therapeutic Process
Beginning with the Client
During the initial meeting, the therapist will gather as much information as possible on Abby's past to make a comprehensive assessment of her life (Corey, 2009). The therapist will use a questionnaire wherein Abby can disclose her family information. This will help assess the "critical influences that have had a bearing on the role the client has assumed in the world" (Corey, 2009, p. 105). Early recollections will contribute to a more accurate and deep understanding of Abby (Corey, 2009).
Goals of Therapy
The post-assessment phase will continue to focus on building the client/therapist relationship and understanding and reviewing Abby's perceptions of her life and herself. Goals for her will include overcoming her discouragement with her current situation and her sense of inadequacy and inferiority. Additionally, therapy will help Abby gain a new perspective of her role in life as well as with her husband. Encouragement is central to the client/therapist relationship, and it is a "crucial aspect of human growth and development" (Watts & Pietrzak, 2000, p. 442). Therapy will encourage Abby's self-understanding and insight and will help her rely on her strengths as she works through her challenges.
Strategies and Techniques
Initially, it is important to listen attentively to Abby rather than focus on techniques, and make sure she is receiving the empathy and care she needs. To help the therapist develop an articulate understanding of Abby, he or she uses interviews to gain a deeper understanding of her psychological dynamics (Corey, 2009). From these interviews the therapist presents a summary of the information and provides an opportunity for Abby to view and discuss her life from a different perspective (Corey, 2009). The therapist will guess and hypothesize on the reasons for Abby's behavior, deepening her understanding of who she is, as well as why she is that way.
Simone, S. & Fulero, S. M. (2005). Tarasoff and the duty to protect. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 11(1/2), 145–168.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole.
Corey, G. (2009). Case approach to counseling and psychotherapy (7th ed). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Watts, R. E., & Pietrzak, D. (2000). Adlerian encouragement and the therapeutic process of. Journal of Counseling & Development, 78, 422-447.