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  • Writer's pictureDale V Wayman, PhD

Adlerian Counseling During COVID-19: A Short Demonstration

Adlerian theory is applicable to all phases of life, noting that transitions can cause developmental crises during which counseling is helpful. Some of the uniqueness of Adlerian theory lies in the concepts of inferiority (inferiority complex and superiority complex), private logic, early recollections, family constellation, and “gemeinschaftsgefuhl”, which roughly translated is “social interest.” Each person decides how they think, what they value, and feel about themselves and fashions a unique way of moving through life, as all behavior is purposeful. Further, Adlerians believe that everyone is confronted with five major life tasks: work, friendship, love, spirituality, and coping with self.

In this role play, look for the Adlerian use of metaphor in counseling, encouragement, and recalling childhood memories. On a side note, Adler's holistic belief that movement and positive affect changes not only behavior and thoughts but also body chemistry is apparent.

Note that this a role-play. Louise is another professor and we are doing this recorded demonstration for our students to understand a simple example of Adlerian Theory. This is the scenario for the client: Louise is a 40 year old divorced Caucasian cisgender female. Her presenting problem is low mood and lack of energy. She has recently lost 10 pounds because she lost interest in food and forgets to eat. She is sleeping every chance she gets and finds it hard to get up for work. Her social life has diminished as she finds it easier to stay at home and prefers to be left alone. Louise was previously a member of her local garden club and active in her community, but tired of questions about her divorce and avoids socializing. She reports that she and her husband parted amicably after 10 years of living more as roommates than a couple. She complains that everyone wants to hear some juicy gossip about their divorce that simply doesn’t exist. "John’s a great guy. Nobody can seem to believe that our marriage could end without someone doing something awful. The truth is that I loved him like a brother most of our marriage. Now, I’m a little lost without him nudging me to do all the things that made me a happier and healthier person".

For more readings, please view this article in which I participated (notice my last name is spelled incorrectly in the article): Stewart-Spencer, S., Eubanks, R., Law, J., Wayman, D.V., Pullen, A., James, D. (2019). Counseling theories role-play as a teaching tool. Journal of Counseling Research and Practice, 4(1). Retrieved from

Click on the video clip below to start the demonstration:

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