Psychotherapy

Adlerian theory postulates that psychopathology results from lack of courage, exaggerated feelings of inferiority, and underdeveloped social interest. Thus, the chief purpose of Adlerian psychotherapy is to enhance courage, lessen feelings of inferiority, and encourage social interest. This task, however, is not easy because patients struggle to hold on to their existing, comfortable view of themselves. To overcome this resistance to change, Adler would sometimes ask patients, "What would you do if I cured you immediately?" Such a question usually forced patients to examine their goals and to see that responsibility for their current misery rests with them.

Adler often used the motto, "Everybody can accomplish everything." Except for certain limitations set by heredity, he strongly believed this maxim and repeatedly emphasized that what people do with what they have is more important than what they have (Adler, 1925/1968, 1956). Through the use of humor and warmth, Adler tried to increase the patient's courage, self-esteem, and social interest. He believed that a warm, nurturing attitude by the therapist encourages patients to expand their social interest to each of the three problems of life: sexual love, friendship, and occupation.

Adler innovated a unique method of therapy with problem children by treating them in front of an audience of parents, teachers, and health professionals. When children receive therapy in public, they more readily understand that their problems are community problems. Adler (1964) believed that this procedure would enhance children's social interest by allowing them to feel that they belong to a community of concerned adults. Adler was careful not to blame the parents for a child's misbehavior. Instead, he worked to win the parents' confidence and to persuade them to change their attitudes toward the child.

Although Adler was quite active in setting the goal and direction of psychotherapy, he maintained a friendly and permissive attitude toward the patient. He established himself as a congenial coworker, refrained from moralistic preaching,

90 Part II Psychodynamic Theories and placed great value on the human relationship. By cooperatmg with their therapists, patients establish contact with another person. The therapeutic relationship awakens their social interest in the same manner that children gam social interest from their parents. Once awakened, the patients' social interest must spread to family, friends, and people outside the therapeutic relationship (Adler, 1956).

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