Adlerian Theory Based on the Adlerian Theory Essay

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Adlerian Theory

Based on the Adlerian theory (Alfred Adler), please write a critical analysis.

In the case study, Susan is suffering from mild depression and she is being treated with a prescription anti-depressant called Zoloft. This is associated with a series of negative events in her life. As, she is struggling with: a recent divorce and dealing with the possibility of being single. This has led to feelings of inferiority and resentment about the past. Over the course of time, this has caused Susan's mental state to continually decline. During the process of seeking out treatment, is when a referral came from her psychiatrist. The objectives in working with her, is to help Susan to be able to overcome these negative feelings about what is happening. To achieve these goals requires examining the different ways Adlerian therapy could be applied to this situation. This will be accomplished by looking at: the theory, treatment plan and pertinent interventions. Once this occurs, is when it will be clear as to how this approach can help to improve Susan's mental state.

The Theory

Adler's theory is based upon looking at the mental health of the individual by studying their social interactions with others. The way that is accomplished is through examining a number of different variables most notably: the relationship of the person with their family, friends and lovers. This will help the therapist to understand what experiences and events contributed to the current mind set of the patient. Once this occurs, is when the mental health professional can see how these issues are affecting the patient and the way that they are interacting with the world around them. This is when they will begin to see certain psychological traits that could be contributing to their poor state of mental well-being (commonly called the inferiority complex). An inferiority complex is when the individual feels that they are not good enough based on something that happened in the past. To deal with these issues they will often overcompensate by using a self-defense mechanism. This is when the patient will make everything appear as if they are fine. Yet, in reality they are having trouble dealing with people and the world them. This is because of these deep seeded subconscious feelings. Once this takes place is when the person will often engage in erratic behavior that is not considered to be healthy. (Boeree, 2006) ("Psychotherapy," 2011)

To deal with these issues, therapists will often have patients talk about these thoughts and the underlying meanings that they have associated with them. At which point, the therapist will begin to change the underlying feelings and emotions that an individual has tied to a particular event. To do this, mental health professionals will often use various forms of conversations with the patient to understand what happened. This is when they will begin talking about those negative feelings tied to a particular event. As they are using the emotions that are tied to these events, to feel bad about themselves (which is causing them to go into disempowering states). Once this occurs, is when the therapist can begin introducing strategies that will help the patient to go into positive states by having feelings of joy. This will redirect their focus and allow them to place a particular event into perspective. (Boeree, 2006) ("Psychotherapy," 2011)

For example, during a therapy session a mental health professional will listen to a patient's bad experiences with their ex-wife and how this had an impact on their romantic encounters with others. To address these issues, the psychologist will show how these negative events could be making the person stronger. As it is helping them to find someone, who can truly make them happy. Once this occurs, is when these empowering emotions can be redirected to change the way the person feels. This is important, because it is showing how the Adlerian approach is being utilized to change the meanings that are tied to incidents that have occurred to the patient in the past. (Boeree, 2006) ("Psychotherapy," 2011)

As a result, Adlerian therapy is focused on continually changing the state of mind by altering how an individual is thinking about various situations. This is when they will begin to have a sense of confidence about themselves and the world around them. Over the course of time, this can have a dramatic change in their mood by giving them a reason to feel good. This is the point, that the individual will be able to see some kind of long-term improvement in their underlying mental state. (Boeree, 2006) ("Psychotherapy," 2011)

The Treatment Plan

In order for treatment to be most effective, there must be an emphasis on having the patient open up about their past experiences. Where, they must discuss issues that have occurred to them and what thoughts / feelings are associated to these events. This will tell the therapist how this has impacted the patient and the way that it is affecting their behavior. Once this begins to take place, is when there can be a constructive dialogue on those incidents that have impacted them the most. (Savard, 2008, pp. 52 -- 70)

In the case of Susan, there are three relationships that are causing her to become depressed to include those with: her ex-husband, children and other family members (i.e. siblings / parents). As far as her ex-husband is concerned, this has contributed to her feelings of isolation and loneliness. As she is struggling with him over financial issues and there is reluctance to take action in improving her situation. This has caused her to have feelings of helplessness, where she sees no end to these challenges. The children are causing her to believe that she is inadequate, as they do not respect her and are judging her life. This makes Susan very resentful and withdrawn. Then, there is the belief that she does not want to make the same kind mistake with her children as her parents. In this case, she thinks that they (her parents) cared more about each other instead of their daughters. This is causing deep feelings of resentment. These different relationships are important, because they are showing how the mental health professional must help Susan to open up more about what happened. (Savard, 2008, pp. 52 -- 70)

As a result, the first part of our treatment plan must be to encourage Susan to talk more about these issues. The best way that this can be accomplished is to start a series of conversations, in the form of casual one on one discussions. During this phase, is when therapists wants to be seen as a friend and confidant. This will help the patient to open up about their true feelings and the underlying emotions that they have tied to these events. (Savard, 2008, pp. 52 -- 70)

Once this takes place is when the therapist would interrupt the thought patterns of the patient by asking them questions. This will help the patient to begin reexamining these ideas and feelings. At which point, they can introduce views that could change how the patient is experiencing the underlying situation. It is at this point, that the mental health professional can begin creating a plan that the patient will follow during the course of their treatment. Where, the therapist is providing them with a way of adjusting to what is happening in the world around them. This is important, because it will help the patient to start looking at their life and various events that happened to them in a different light. (Savard, 2008, pp. 52 -- 70)

Next, the mental health professional will work with the patient to establish a series of reachable goals. The basic ideas, is that this is providing the person with a way of having them deal with these issues and work on changing the way they are looking at what happened. Once this occurs, is when you will have a series of follow up exercise to help reinforce any kind of positive shifts that have been made in their lifestyle. (Savard, 2008, pp. 52 -- 70)

The way that this would apply to Susan, is she has already started a discussion about her past relationships. The real key for us moving forward, will be to have her start talking about the emotions that she has linked to them and how that makes her feel today. This will be accomplished by asking her a series of different questions. Once this take place is when the mental health professional will begin asking Susan questions. This will cause her to step back and reexamine why she is having these feelings. It is at this point that the therapist can introduce more empowering ways of looking at the underlying situation and what happened. This is when Susan will have a short-term changes in attitude. (Savard, 2008, pp. 52 -- 70)

To reinforce these new ideas, there will be a series of goals established that will help her…[continue]

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