Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington


Training of a Classical Adlerian
Depth Psychotherapist

Interview of Sophia de Vries, Ph.D.

By Henry T. Stein, Ph.D

May 3, 1980 - Alfred Adler Institute of San Francisco

In the full two-hour discussion between Sophia de Vries and Henry Stein, nearly 200 topics about Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy (CADP) are covered. Sophia de Vries studied with Alfred Adler, Lydia Sicher, Alexander Mueller, Fritz Kunkel, Ida Loewy, Martha Holub, Rudolf Dreikurs, August Eichorn, Charlotte Buhler, Karl Buhler, Ludwig Klages, Karl Jung, Ernst Kretschmer, and Maria Montessori. Her profund psychological insights and her masterful adaptation of the Socratic method make this transcribed interview an essential introduction to our unique training offered in Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy.

Topics Discussed

Evaluating candidate for training - Principles looks easy, application is a difficult creative process - No "by the numbers" approach - Begin with a close relationship - Evaluating candidate for training - Principles looks easy, application is a difficult creative process - No "by the numbers" approach - Begin with a close relationship - Social interest is the core - Encouragement is primary - Adult treated with motherly kindness - "Doing a lifestyle" - Critique of the "lifestyle procedure" - Finding something positive in client to build courage - Pointing out a wrong step - Equality - Understanding and empathy - Client must join in the discovery - English translations of Adler are not always accurate - Gemeinshaftsgefühl is hard to translate - Many articles not yet translated - Advantage of learning German - Current books very limited - Time to learn how to do therapy - Long supervision necessary - Knowledge of other theories - NeoFreudians closest to Adler - Importance of a study-analysis - Maslow's conception of self-actualization - Therapist needs to overcome personal limitations - Client blames others for his problems - Explaining a lifestyle is not enough, goal must also be revealed - Danger of showmanship and aggressiveness in a therapist - Need for utmost gentleness in treatment - Adler suggested that therapists who do not follow his approach should not be Adlerians - Problem of misrepresenting Adlerian psychology - Therapist must overcome his faulty point of view with a study-analysis - Long supervision with experienced Adlerian - Demands of a private practice - Therapy as a creative process - Living in a creative way - Every case is unique, requiring a creative not systematic approach - Creative cooperation - Diplomatic interpretation - Filling up with impressions - Looking for hidden movement - Radius of activity - Intuition, logic and imagination - Therapist's feeling tone and empathy - Encouragement that life can be different - Climate of discovery - Client is missing a feeling of connectedness - Negative social influences - Financial difficulties - Overpopulation - Preoccupation with money - Popular misconception of money as security - Conquering of difficulties yields feeling of security - Mistake of looking for the "easy life" - Dynamic "doing" vs. static "having" - Philosophy and values - Maslow's deficiency motivation - Maslow's "being-values" - Clients can change their value system - First contact with client on telephone - Impressions from phone call - Being on a even level with client - Asking simple questions - Asking about religion - Cultural background - Family constellation - Asking about problem - Discovering the real reason for client's problem - Letting client talk freely - Ending first meeting - Emphasizing "working together" - Expressing a deep interest - Frequency of visits - Talking about fee - Predicting length of treatment - Client who sets limits on time - Reason for limits - Teaching therapy - Stages of therapy - Relationship stage - Information stage - Holding off interpretation - Finding the real problem - Example of sleeplessness - Overcoming a loss - Discovering a pampered life style - Getting early memories - Written memories - Not remembering - Questioning early relationships - Focusing on action rather than feeling - Connecting past to present - Person mentioned first - No rules in interpretation - Talking about siblings - Current and past feelings about siblings - Early childhood aspirations - First day of school - Confirming guesses - Compressing life style into image - Direction of help - Connect complaints to the life style - Client's self-evaluation - Not giving advice - Challenging client to think and act differently - Client feels better about new success - Living with a "report card" - Not measuring up to a tremendous image - Montessori method of self-evaluation - Punitive approach of schools - School hierarchy - Observing appearance - Noting physical movements - All clients are discouraged - Client who talks all the time - Filling up with the person - Feeling the way the client feels - Comparing actions to a norm - Private logic - Getting an image of client's totality - Evaluating wrong direction - Clarification stage - Going along in a illogical direction - Leading client to making corrections - Questioning a mistaken life style - Client must make conclusions - Promoting movement in a passive person - Client lets you know how much he can risk - Finding courage to do the unknown - Encouragement from success - Living life differently - Symbol of climbing a mountain - Habits block alternatives - Creative living - Anxiety with the unfamiliar - Anxiety from fear of failure - Anxiety about making mistakes - Correcting mistakes - Children dreading mistakes - Self respect - Exploring old problems - Bridge from childhood - Early fixation - Wrong goal - Showing where wrong goal leads - Timing for explaining life style - Encouragement and success before insight - Client blames others and the world - Discovering what is missing in client's actions - Example of how client overcame isolation - Client must decide new direction - Using helplessness to gain advice - Metaphor of leaves in the wind - Insight leads to action plan - World begins to look different - Timing for termination - Reducing frequency of appointments - Overcoming fear of difficulties - Easy life can be spoiling - Looking for challenges - Opportunity in the United States - Feeling entitled

de VRIES:= Sophia de Vries STEIN:= Henry T. Stein

STEIN: Sophia, what I would like to focus on with you in this discussion, is the training of a Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapist, and starting logically with what kind of person would be most adaptable, or suitable, to our Classical Adlerian training.  Is there any way of feeling out an applicant, a prospect, someone who has had the basic training towards licensing, towards a degreed program in counseling or psychology, who presents himself to us for training, and says "I would like to be an Adlerian". Would we basically accept anyone who expressed an interest or are there some ways of appraising a person as to the probability of his success or lack of success?

de VRIES: No I don't think you can begin with appraising people.  They come because they are interested and because they are dissatisfied with what they have learned so far, or what they have heard so far. Many people, of course, don't know too much about Adlerian Psychology when they start out, and in the beginning, (this is always the funny side of it) it looks like it is easy.  It is not hard to learn the principles, but then comes the application.  And Adler himself said that it was simple to learn the principles, but it was very hard to apply - in practice. Because what he wanted was a creative process and not anything that goes according to rules 1,2,3, 4, 5 etc.  You cannot start at a particular part of Adlerian Psychology and then apply that in practice and then go by the number 2 and the no. 3 and the no. 4, I have always called that painting by numbers. I have seen people who have been trained in Adlerian Psychology and they did exactly that, they went by numbers.  They said, "now, first I have to do this, then I have to do that". No, you don't.

The main thing (the way Adler has explained it to us) is that you establish a very close relationship to begin with. Because of the relationship you have established, you can go on and the person feels comfortable in cooperating with you. As a result of the cooperation he does something that he hasn't done too much of before, mainly he shows the beginning of applying a social interest.  The core of Adlerian Psychology is always the social interest factor. Other aspects, inferiority feelings, wanting to be on top, feeling that everybody has more than you have, and all these symptoms, come at a different moment, they are not so important.  You have to establish the relationship so the person can cooperate with you in what you are doing.  You have to encourage, encourage, encourage!

Another thing that Adler said, that I recall very well, was that you have to treat an adult with the same kindness and love that a mother would have for a child. No aggressiveness, no attacking, no hitting people over the head with what you have found. The result comes from everything that you work on together, and gaining insight. A real Adlerian therapy that is done very well helps people from the beginning, and they don't feel the frustration.

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