I was asked to be a part of an Adler School of Professional Psychology Student Government event that took place yesterday and today at the school. Six faculty members were asked to talk about a case (taken from the DSM-IV Casebook) using six different theoretical viewpoints. The theories presented were cognitive-behavioral therapy, trauma-focused therapy, Adlerian theory, Theodore Millon’s bio-psycho-social theory, psychodynamic theory, and family systems theory. The fictitious case used was called “A Child is Crying,” and it described a 15-year old girl who had been the target of abuse, and who became depressed, withdrawn, and said she was hearing the voice of a child crying.
I was honored to be asked to present the Adlerian viewpoint – after all, it is the Adler School, and there were three other Adlerian faculty members in the audience. I talked about what could be inferred about the girl’s views of life, herself, and other people, and the possible meaning and purpose of her behaviors. Looking at the same case from six different viewpoints was a great opportunity for us to help students to learn more about the skill of case conceptualization, which is the basis for treatment planning. Hopefully, the students thought so too, and found the presentation valuable. It was a very enjoyable experience for me.
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”
— Robert Browning
I’ve found that young adults – especially some of the young men I work with – who seek help with depression often have a lot of difficulty that involves feeling that they can’t achieve the things that they wish they could in life. They know that it’s not realistic to hope they can be famous, financially independent, or sometimes even just well-liked. Most of us have struggled with this kind of dilemma, because young adulthood is one of the times of life when our reach almost always exceeds our grasp. Continue Reading Struggling for Significance
Most of us have thought about whether counseling would be helpful at one time or another, but probably feel a bit intimidated by the idea of looking into actually finding a counselor to talk to. Sometimes the most important message that the counselor has to give clients isn’t said in so many words, but it’s simply that “You’re OK.”
Researchers who study the evidence for the effectiveness of psychotherapy have consistently found pretty much the same thing: It doesn’t matter so much what approach your therapist uses; what matters is the quality of the working relationship. Feeling heard and understood comes first, followed by having the opportunity to express your feelings and feel safe doing so. Lastly comes problem solving and the actual plans for change.
I try to impress this on my students as I help them to learn counseling skills. Helping the client feel heard and understood is the first task, and once that happens, insight and change become much easier. People generally know what needs to be done, with a little help from the therapist, once they feel able to pause and take stock of their feelings and thoughts.