psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Hi. I’m John Sommers-Flanagan.

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And I’m Rita Sommers-Flanagan. And we’re really excited to welcome you to this DVD.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: The DVD has clips from 11 different theory-based counseling sessions. On the one end, we begin with psychoanalytic theory, and on the other end, we finish with family systems approaches. And you know, Rita, one of the things I like the best about the DVD is that we feature real people with real problems.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. In fact, we involved six different professionals– of course two of those are us. But four colleagues joined us, and like you said, it’s real people with real problems. It’s not scripted.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And not being scripted means that mistakes were made and that no one on the DVD is perfect.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right. And of course, we can’t show you a whole theory in action. In fact, if you just dropped into a session somewhere in the United States at any time in any moment, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell what theory was involved in that session. In fact, I really like, John, how you’ve explained that to some of the students.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right. I think one thing that helps is to notice that each theoretical perspective has a different listening focus.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: For example, if I’m doing the psychoanalytic work, I’m going to focus on different things while I’m listening than if I’m doing CBT or reality therapy. In addition, each theoretical model has different strategies and techniques that are linked to the model. And so in the DVD, we try to feature the listening focus as well as the strategies and techniques that go with each theoretical perspective.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right. The theoretical perspectives themselves have very basic beliefs that are different from each other, and, of course, result with different techniques and different strategies. But at the core, there are beliefs about the ways people change and the very essence of the meaning of life that drive the theories. And so sometimes you might see something going on that looks the same, but it’s actually coming from a very different place.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right. It’s very complicated as you apply this to real situations. And we’re both counselors, and we’re dedicated to helping other counselors and psychotherapists become more effective in their work. And yet, I have to say, even in the process of doing this DVD, I felt humbled numerous times. And I felt that I continually learned.

 

I learned from watching you do your sessions and from watching the other counselors and psychotherapists. I even learned from watching myself, which, as you know if you have done some video recording of yourself doing counseling or psychotherapy, it can be excruciatingly painful. But it’s a great way to learn and develop your counselling and psychotherapy skills.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And we realize that this might be very bad news for some of you who are still in graduate school, working on gaining your basic skills. And you have that fantasy that you will graduate, you’ll get your license, and you’ll be the perfect counselor.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: It’s really a lifelong journey, and we hope that this DVD helps you become a more effective counselor a or psychotherapist.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: This session is an example of psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: If i were to say one thing about the psychoanalytic perspective, it would be repetition– repetition of patterns. Whether you’re operating from the old fashioned Freudian perspective or the more modern attachment theory perspective, both of those perspectives emphasize that individuals develop an internal working model based on early childhood interactions. And that that model dictates, to some extent, that repeating pattern of the way people have relationships as well as certain kinds of conflicts or intrapsychic problems that are manifest over and over.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. And psychoanalytic is a very long therapy process usually, so of course it’s difficult to squeeze any of those concepts into a 20-minute session. John’s listening with Sarah for repeated themes, including the things she brings in, which is concern about blushing.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And what you’ll probably notice is that the listening that I do is fairly unstructured. It’s involving free association, or saying whatever comes to mind, which is one of the techniques that psychoanalytically-oriented therapists use. In addition, I will occasionally prompt her to explore the past to see if we can make some connections with how these particular problems, the blushing, first arose.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Your goal is to help Sarah begin to explore those repeated patterns in her life.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Absolutely. And as I do that, another thing to keep in mind is counter-transference, because counter-transference can distort the way I see Sarah’s problems. And that’s one of the reasons I think, from this perspective, it’s so important to go slowly, to work collaboratively with clients so we can make sure that my reactions or my distortions of her problem aren’t what’s guiding the session, and it’s really her issue and her problem.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So let’s watch a few minutes of John working with Sarah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So just start with the thought of your face blushing– maybe an image of it in your mind– and then just say whatever comes to mind.

 

SARAH: Gosh. The words, I feel like, sound so harsh, but really I think of embarrassment, humiliation. I feel like I look stupid. Um, [SIGH] I– yeah. Those kinds of things.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Pretty harsh things.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: If you go back in time, starting now, but just go way back, as early as you can, can you think of humiliation, embarrassment experiences where you maybe first started having that kind of flushing?

 

SARAH: You know, it probably was when I was in college. And there were people that would say oh my gosh, your face just turned red. And I actually had someone that I worked with that would say to me, oh, I just love to embarrass you and watch your face turn red.

 

And I can remember that I hadn’t been that aware of it, but then there was just something that– it just started, you know, the awareness, I think. It just started happening more and more often.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Back in college– it was an early time when you remember it.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Can you remember a particular time when you flushed and what was going on then?

 

SARAH: When I was in high school and the teacher would ask a question, I would feel fine answering a question and speaking up. And when I got to college, I wouldn’t because I was afraid my face would turn red.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: So it’s just that, that I would be in class and I would feel like I had something to contribute, but I didn’t want to talk because I thought I would draw attention to myself with my face turning red, yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What might you have said that would make your face turn red?

 

SARAH: I don’t know. I wasn’t really worried about the content, but I think that just talking in the group, it’s just, I– I knew it would turn red, and the idea of it turning red, and people thinking, gosh, look how insecure she is that she can’t even talk without her face turning red. I just didn’t want to deal with it, so I sort of quit talking in class. Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

And so we started with what causes the flushing or the bushing. And it seemed like that was related to some things in college and people bringing that to your attention. And as you focused on it more and more, it seems to have gotten less and less in control. Would that be right?

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And so now we’ve moved to talking about some safety concerns about your children mostly, but just tragedy striking you.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And again, it seems like, maybe in some ways, the more and more you try to control your worry thoughts, the less they feel in control. It kind of feels like they keep getting bigger and bigger. Is that–

 

SARAH: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah. They do. And I– you know, I have periods of time where I don’t feel this way, but– but, yeah. I have a lot of thoughts of just wanting to live like a normal person and not having all these thoughts all the time in my head. And I wonder, as we’re talking now, if I just kind of am living a little anxiously all the time, and that’s maybe affecting my– I don’t know. I mean, that’s what it feels like right now.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah, it kind of sends along your anxiety. Something might go wrong.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Something bad might happen.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Something that could be a tragedy. And the first thing you think of is the car accident sort of thing, and what else? What other kinds of tragedies or just even small bad things might happen?

 

SARAH: I don’t– I don’t worry about small things, honestly. I mean, [LAUGH] I don’t. I feel like I’m pretty good about that. I don’t want– yeah. I can categorize things. Like, OK. With when my kids my kids play really rough a lot, and I think, well, that would just be a broken limb. So we can– that– go ahead. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: But when it starts to be, well, that could be a big head injury, then– you know? And I think of all that. I mean, I go through the whole checklist in my head a lot. And I don’t feel like, do other people do that? I mean, I don’t know. I’m always questioning. Like, is this crazy to be just constantly having this in my head? And I think it to my kids that I hope that I appear completely calm. [LAUGH] That’s how I want to appear, because I don’t want to put this on them, but.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You’d like to have it in your head less– whether other people are crazy or whether it’s crazy or not, you’d like to have it in your head less.

 

SARAH: For sure. For sure. Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. And what kinds of things have you tried?

 

SARAH: Well, I always think about whenever I’m challenged with something, I always think about the worst-case scenario. And I believe completely that I can handle anything– anything, and I’ve gone through this whole list. Like if I lost my limbs or whatever, [LAUGH] I could handle anything. But I can’t handle something happening to my kids.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Uh huh.

 

SARAH: And that– I just– so when I try to approach this logically and think, well, so-and-so has made it through life without a big thing happening, and so-and-so– I mean, people just have a lot of tragedy. And so I just come back to that, and–

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And feel that underlying nervousness.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Yeah. And yet, if we go back to the blushing, that’s not a bad thing happening. Speaking up in class? Not a bad thing happening. And yet that feels kind of out of control, too.

 

SARAH: It does, because I really hate to be perceived as stupid.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mmm.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm. And that’s kind of a thing that goes way back for me too. When I was younger, I had this persona that developed that I was an airhead, and I’ve had to work so hard to kind of– because I think I used it for a while to my advantage, and then in college again I had to work so hard to get rid of that whole image. And it still is kind of in there somewhere, I think.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You still sort of have some fear of being perceived as an airhead.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Wanting to prove that you, in fact, are not.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And you used the word stupid.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Go with that.

 

SARAH: I don’t know. I just, I really value intelligence, I guess. [LAUGH] I value it a lot in other people. And I, I don’t know. I just, I hate that I let myself have that persona for so long. It’s just, it really bugs me.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: I feel like I could have done other things with my life if I hadn’t gone without it so much.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. What’s going on to make that seem like a good thing then?

 

SARAH: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, people gave me attention and laughed, and I don’t know.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What kinds of things did you do?

 

SARAH: You know, I said some silly things like– this is in seventh grade. But still when I see these people, they’ll bring it up.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What did you say in seventh grade?

 

SARAH: Oh gosh, really?

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ahh.

 

SARAH: [LAUGH] There was something about a pen that had a calculator in it, and the battery died on the calc– or the– maybe it had a digital clock in it, and the battery died. And I didn’t think the pen would work anymore because the battery died. [LAUGH] And, uh, it was just a split moment thing, but everyone laughed and thought it was hilarious.

 

And I think that’s kind of when it started. And so people still, 30 years later, so, do you have a pen, Sarah? [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: And I can laugh. I mean, I am totally fine laughing at myself. That’s not the problem. It’s just, I just don’t want that identity that I’m dumb.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. And you kept it for a while.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm. Like a long time.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. What are some other examples of–

 

SARAH: Mmm. Really? Another one that comes to mind is someone told me that their aunt had had a miscarriage, and I asked her if the baby was all right.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Uh huh.

 

SARAH: So, you know? Because I just wasn’t– I knew– I don’t know what. That was just a dumb thing to say. I didn’t mean to say that, and so that’s another thing people bring up 30 years later.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Uh huh.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And that doesn’t sound intentional.

 

SARAH: It wasn’t.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: The pen and the miscarriage comment.

 

SARAH: No.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And yet one of the things I kind of hear you saying is, well, that’s embarrassing. But it’s even maybe more embarrassing that you kind of took on that identity?

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Rita, while I was watching the clip of Sarah, one thing that I noticed was that kind of repeating or recycling pattern where, initially when she was asked about the blushing, she went back to a college experience. Later, she goes back to a high school experience, and later she goes back to a seventh grade experience.

 

And what that reminds me of is how maybe resistance has diminished over time. Maybe trust is built. Either way, it seems like from this model, you look at things in the past. You uncover different perspectives each time.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. One thing I noticed during this session is you asked her what she had done before, which can kind of sound behavioral, actually.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right. It might also sound solution-focused. But the reason for asking that is to really sort of glimpse or study her pattern of trying to resolve the problem herself, because that’s important to the psychodynamics. And you know, in addition, I felt the impulse at one point. Like maybe I should have asked her, what do you think I think of you, which would be a question that’s very psychoanalytic, because it kind of pulls for the transference that might be happening in the session between Sarah and me.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Which maybe would have worked, or maybe would have been a little early for that kind of reflection.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Absolutely.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. So the next clip picks up right where we left off.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Exactly. So let’s watch.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: But it’s even many more embarrassing that you kind of took on that identity.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Or did you take it on, people put it on you?

 

SARAH: I think people put it on me after that, and then I went with it after that. Those are the two things that I really remember saying that were the worst. And then after that, I just kinda went with it.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. And did you ever intentionally say things that were–

 

SARAH: Oh, probably. I mean, I really don’t remember other things, but I probably did act the part for a while, yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: [SIGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: As you talk about it, it seems very– not really unsettling, but just like you kind of–

 

SARAH: Yeah. It makes me cringe.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: How about even before seventh grade? Anything where you felt like you were perceived as stupid?

 

SARAH: Nuh uh. No. I was– actually, I was pretty smart. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Uh huh.

 

SARAH: Really. So, no. It was kind of a middle school thing.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. And somehow you carry on this sort of remnant from middle school that people might see you as stupid. And that carried into college, and even now you feel that the blushing might be related to that–

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: –thought of I’ll be caught– maybe I’ll be caught looking stupid.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm. Yup.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. And the theme with your children is maybe I’ll be caught unprepared, maybe tragedy will strike because I’m not prepared?

 

SARAH: Well, when you say that, it makes me think that, yeah, what if I– what if I wasn’t worried? Would that make the odds go up that something could happen?

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What if I wasn’t worried about tragedy? What if I wasn’t worried about being viewed as stupid or unprepared?

 

SARAH: Well, when I’m thinking about the tragedy part, I mean, what if I let that go and I just, it wasn’t on my mind all the time? Then maybe that would make the odds of it happening go up.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: I don’t know. It sounds ridiculous when I say, but–

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah, yeah. But you hear this sort of belief in your mind– maybe worrying about the tragedy helps prevent it.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm. Yep. I think that somehow that’s what I think.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And that that prevents it, even in the absence of any specific precautions. I mean, is it possible to take the precautions and then–

 

SARAH: Let it go?

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Let it go?

 

SARAH: I don’t know.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: It seems like there are some things that are outside of your control.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I don’t know. It feels like if I let it go, then what does that mean?

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: I don’t know.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What does it mean?

 

SARAH: It just, it feels a little bit like, now am I being careless if I just let it go? And what comes to my head is do I love them less if I just let it go? Which sounds really weird, but– I don’t know. It feels scary to let it go, I guess. But I want to let it go.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. It would be nice to let it go.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: But somehow there’s a little superstition in your head that, if I let this go, maybe the odds will be worse, and maybe it’s a sign that I don’t really love them? That worrying about people is a loving thing?

 

SARAH: Yeah, I guess so. I have not thought of it like that, but that’s sort of how it feels like. [SIGH] Um, yeah. It feels that way. [LAUGH] I mean, it feels so– it sounds so illogical, but that’s how it feels right now.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: But that– that sort of feels– and when you just go with that, that thought if I worry, then it’s love. It’s a sign of love. Where do your thoughts go about worry?

 

SARAH: Well first, I feel like my love for them is so much more than worry. So I don’t equate worry with love.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: But if I were to just let things go, I perceive other people having more normal thought in their head, and if perceive like, just letting my kids get in a car and just go somewhere and let it go– I do. I let them go in cars– I mean, I do. It’s just hard for me. And to imagine myself doing it without having the worry in my head, I don’t know– it feels careless.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. And what does careless mean?

 

SARAH: Then I feel a little bit– I think of being negligent, and then I think, and that’s when it’ll happen.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. Carelessness is negligence. Just keep talking about– just talk your thoughts, even as we sit here, whatever comes.

 

SARAH: I just feel like I’m in this, I’m stuck. Like I want to stop worrying. I want to live, and not live with all this fear.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: But I feel like I’m bound to it. And I’m just stuck all the time.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: And I want to be able to think about other things, and not be thinking about what kind of car my friend’s mom drives, and is she going to text or talk on the phone while she’s driving my kid, and what about the other person, and my husband, and– you know. And, I mean, crazy things. Like I sometimes will, without anyone knowing it– because I think I read that being on the left is more dangerous. So I’ll switch and make sure they evenly ride on the left and right, and if I put one of them on a safer side, does that mean I love him– I mean, the thoughts are crazy.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

 

SARAH: Yeah. It’s embarrassing when I hear myself even have these thoughts out loud.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: It kind of makes you blush.

 

SARAH: Yeah, I know. [LAUGH] I feel like I keep this part like, most– I try not to let people know about it, because I know that it’s kind of crazy. And I don’t– again, I don’t want to put it on my kids. I don’t want them to have to live with that.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: [SIGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You spend a lot of time really protecting people.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm. Like protecting them from knowing that I–

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Protecting them knowing, protecting them from tragedy, worrying about lots of different people who you love. Who protects you?

 

SARAH: Just me. I mean, [LAUGH] I do. I– my mom was always a little bit like this, so I do blame some of this on her. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: [LAUGH]

 

SARAH: So I–

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Talk about how she did– how did she do it?

 

SARAH: Oh, she just always was worried, and I’ve been really mad at her in the last few years because she’ll bring up some concern, and I’m like, if I haven’t thought of that concern yet, I certainly don’t need to hear it from you, because I’ve thought of every concern. So I’ve told her, you have to stop putting your worry on me, because I’ve got enough. And I’ve been really clear that I don’t want to live that way. She thinks that I am way more this way than she was. I don’t know if that’s true.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm.

 

SARAH: But.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So some of it you feel like you’ve gotten from your mom over the years, and that she was a little bit like this.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You’re not sure– maybe she’s even more than you or less than you.

 

SARAH: I don’t think she tried to hide it from us.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ah. She just sort of explicitly worried about your safety.

 

SARAH: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You and your siblings?

 

SARAH: My sister and my brother. Mm-hmm. Yeah. I don’t think she tried to hide it from us. I am really determined that my kids will live a fun life.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You’ll not only protect them from tragedy, but you’ll protect them from their perception of you worrying too much.

 

SARAH: Right. Right.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You know, Rita, as I watched myself working with Sarah, one thing I noticed is I didn’t really do any formal interpretations. And really what I was doing was prompting her to look at her past, trying to notice what patterns might come up. And I think in a lot of ways, that might be more appropriate than jumping in there with deeper interpretations.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right, especially at this stage. But the interesting thing is I think Sarah actually had some insight. And you could kind of feel that in the tape as you watched.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: She was working away. And I did notice that toward the end, Rita–

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: The mother came up.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And Freud would be very happy that that occurred.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. In historic analytic work, all roads lead to the mother.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: But in reality, we know that it’s not just the mother, it’s the mother and the father– the caretakers, other significant people in the person’s life– that somehow shaped that internal working model that eventually causes some issues or difficulties to repeat themselves. And I guess in closing, I just would like to say that Sarah was a fabulous client, and that I think she has the potential for lots of insight that might help her work through some of the issues that she presented in the session.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Absolutely.

 

This session is an example of using an Adlerian approach. John’s working with a 10-year-old boy named Clayton.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: If I were to say just one thing about Adlerian therapy, it would be that it’s highly practical. And I think that might be one of the reasons why so many contemporary theories have borrowed and stolen from Adler, often without even giving him any credit.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Adlerian therapy is also seen as a precursor to modern cognitive therapy. And one of the reasons for that is because of Adler’s concept called the Style of Life, or lifestyle. And that concept really is about how an individual develops beliefs about himself for herself, about others, and about the world. And that those beliefs guide the person as the person has to deal with different tasks of life. And so that’s very similar to the cognitive perspective of the schema. And so that’s one of the ways that Adler really was foreshadowing cognitive theory in therapy.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: That’s right. You know, Adlerian therapists are always very interested and very involved. They have an educational approach, which is oriented toward helping clients begin to understand what Adlerians call basic mistakes.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: In the upcoming clip, one of the things that I’m doing is a family constellation interview– that’s the main focus. And sometimes I worry a little bit, in the session with Clayton, that I stuck a little too close to the clipboard and missed some chances to interact with him a little bit more spontaneously. But I did notice that a lot of those birth order characteristics that Adler talked about so much come out in the session, and so let’s watch.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So Clayton, we don’t know each other very well.

 

CLAYTON: No. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So I want you to know any time if you want to ask me anything about me, you can.

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You don’t have to, though.

 

CLAYTON: OK. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK? But I’m going to ask you quite a few questions.

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: About you.

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And a little bit about your family.

 

CLAYTON: All right.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And one of the things that I like to do to help me get to know you a little bit better is to draw a family tree. And so I’m going to do that now.

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And I know a little bit about your family. And so I’m going to start here. This is going to be your dad, OK? He’s going to be big square. I’m going to go over here, and then your mom is going to be a big circle. And are you the oldest?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: All right. And you’re going to be square. And so we put Clayton here. And how old are you?

 

CLAYTON: 10.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: 10.

 

And then you have a brother, right?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And how old is he?

 

CLAYTON: Seven.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: He’s seven. And what’s his name?

 

CLAYTON: Carter.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Carter. And your mom’s name?

 

CLAYTON: Sara.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Sara with no H, right?

 

CLAYTON: No.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: How old is she?

 

CLAYTON: 42 I think.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: 42 you think?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: I’ll put a question mark there because we’re not sure.

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And then your dad’s name?

 

CLAYTON: Dave.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Dave. And how old is your dad?

 

CLAYTON: I think 45.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. But we’ll put a question mark there, because we’re not exactly sure. OK. And that’s it? Anybody else live in your house?

 

CLAYTON: Pets.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Oh, you have some pets?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What do you have?

 

CLAYTON: Two rabbits and a frog.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Whoa. I don’t know if I can make very good rabbits, but here’s a rabbit. Here’s another rabbit. And I know I can’t make a good frog, but– it sounds like you have a lot of things that jump.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What are the rabbits’ names?

 

CLAYTON: Rex and Scaper.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Rex and Scaper.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And the frog?

 

CLAYTON: I don’t know his name. My brother never told me.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: It’s your brother’s frog.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah, and he never told me its name, so.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mmm. OK.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah. He doesn’t really tell anybody it’s name. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: All right. So that’s really who hangs out in your house, for the most part.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And then if you go up, do you have some grandparents, too?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So on your dad’s side.

 

CLAYTON: His mom’s name is Donna.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK.

 

CLAYTON: And I don’t know his dad’s name, because I never met him, so. And then on my mom’s side, my grandma’s, which is Kay, um, and then my grandpa’s name’s Manny.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Manny?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. And so if you were to see this whole scene– and do you have, ah, you probably have some cousins, too, don’t you?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: It’s going to complicated. So where do we start?

 

CLAYTON: I don’t–

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Your mom has–

 

A brother and a sister. Is that right?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. So, older or younger than her? Do you know?

 

CLAYTON: They’re both younger.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So they– that’s it. So you have those two. We’ll say one is a boy and one’s a girl, or?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. And then they have kids?

 

CLAYTON: My aunt doesn’t, but my uncle does.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: How many kids?

 

CLAYTON: Two.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So he’s got two kids. And how old are they?

 

CLAYTON: Three and one.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ah. So they’re pretty young.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Boy, girl?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: One of each?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. So three and one. And then on this side?

 

CLAYTON: So my dad– I think he has two siblings with children, and mmm– actually, all three of his siblings have children. So one has two teenagers who are like 15 and 17.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. So there’s one that’s 15 and one that’s 17.

 

CLAYTON: And then his other sister has but one, kid that’s nine, I think. Yeah, nine.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. Is that a boy or a girl?

 

CLAYTON: Boy.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. So, nine.

 

CLAYTON: And, then another one has, one boy who, I think he’s around five.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK.

 

CLAYTON: So, yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So you’ve got two teenage cousins, a nine-year-old cousin, a five-year-old cousin, a three-year-old cousin, and a one-year-old cousin.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. Out of all these people, including your aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents, and brother, who would you say you’re closest to? Who do you hang out with the most?

 

CLAYTON: Well if you call fighting hanging out, my brother.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: [LAUGH] So you guys fight a little bit? We’ll put a little squiggly line here, kind of meaning that sometimes you guys fight.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah. Probably my mom or dad.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. So both. You’re pretty close to your mom, you’re pretty close to your dad.

 

CLAYTON: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. And then would you say– I was going to ask what do you fight with the most.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH] My brother, for sure.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. So that’s– we’ll put a little fighting there. And then who would you say is– who do you think is the best athlete? Who’s the best sporty person in all of these people?

 

CLAYTON: Either me or one of my cousins– one of the teenage cousins.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So you’re pretty sporty, and maybe somebody over here, too.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Who is the best at music?

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH] I don’t know.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You don’t know. Who’s the best at art and like, drawing, and artsy things.

 

CLAYTON: Probably Donna.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. So she’s kind of artsy.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: I can put that down– artsy. Who’s the most angry?

 

CLAYTON: Like who’s mad a lot?

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Who gets mad a lot?

 

CLAYTON: My brother.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You think your brother gets mad a lot.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah. For sure.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Who gets in trouble the most?

 

CLAYTON: My brother. Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: No doubt about it.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. If you had three words that you could use to describe your dad, what words would you use?

 

CLAYTON: Gone.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Gone?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah, like he’s left town. Busy. And, I don’t know really the third one.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: That’s OK. We’ve got two– gone and busy.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And three words to describe your mom.

 

CLAYTON: School.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What was that?

 

CLAYTON: She’s in school a lot.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: School. She’s in school. I thought you said screwl.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

CLAYTON: She’s also busy with homework.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So she’s busy.

 

CLAYTON: And I’d say that she’s kind of slow at times, like sometimes it takes her a while to figure something out.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So she’s a little slow.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: It takes her a while to figure things out. Now, how about your brother– three words to describe your brother.

 

CLAYTON: Noisy.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK.

 

CLAYTON: Tattletales.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Tattletale.

 

CLAYTON: Likes baseball. He likes baseball.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. OK. And then the hardest one of all– three words to describe Clayton.

 

CLAYTON: I like football and hockey, and, I enjoy eating. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You really like to eat, huh?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: I should have brought some snacks.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What’s your favorite thing to have for a snack, like? What do you like to eat?

 

Just everything?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah. I don’t get a lot of very, like, sugary food, because my mom doesn’t really ever buy it. But, yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Can’t think of a favorite right now?

 

CLAYTON: No.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So now, if you were to say, well, what are the– you know like your parents try to teach you things. What would you say are the lessons that they try to teach you? What do they try to teach you? What are their family values, the things that they believe in?

 

CLAYTON: Probably not being allowed at other people’s houses, like when their parents are trying to do something, or, yeah. And just like, polite, I guess.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Be polite.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So like, don’t bug other people in their houses when they don’t want you.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And be polite.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. Anything else that your parents really believe in?

 

CLAYTON: Not off the top of my head.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. Those are the main ones. If you think of some later, that’s fine.

 

So one thing I just think of when I see all this is that other than Taylor, you’re kind of the– I mean, I guess your brother is kind of close to your age. But you’re the only one who’s 10 right now.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And, in fact, nobody’s really very close. And Taylor, though, he’s close to you, but he lives in Great Falls.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Do you and Taylor get along OK?

 

CLAYTON: I– he’s only a couple months younger than me.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ah, so you guys play together OK?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And get along. And it sounds like you and your brother are close, but you have some–

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: –tension sometimes.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Because he’s noisy and he’s a tattletale and he’s mad a lot.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: He’s in trouble a lot. Whew. That’s a lot of pressure for an older brother to have–

 

CLAYTON: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: –a younger brother like that.

 

CLAYTON: And I have to babysit him sometimes. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Really?

 

CLAYTON: And my cousins, who are three and one, so.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: How does that go?

 

CLAYTON: Not so well.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Really? What usually happens?

 

CLAYTON: Just a lot of stress, because they all have a lot of energy.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mmm.

 

CLAYTON: And, yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: That’s a big responsibility.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah. And then you, with– especially, I mean, a one-year-old, I suppose, although the one-year-old’s maybe talking?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah.

 

CLAYTON: She can’t even talk, so that makes it even harder.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So she’s probably really hard to keep track of, and then the three-year-old’s probably–

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And then your brother. Whew.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

You have a lot. I mean, and you like to play football and hockey and eat.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And I’ll bet you having a little brother and little cousins kind of interferes with that sometimes.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Have you ever been a bad mood?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: [LAUGH] Have you?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What do people do when you’re in a bad, or what do you when you’re in a bad mood? What do you look like? What do you act like?

 

CLAYTON: Not so well.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: No?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Like what? If I was watching, would I see– would you like be stomping around, would you–

 

CLAYTON: I’d probably be yelling.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yelling.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Like what? What do you yell?

 

CLAYTON: It depends on what I’m mad about.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Do you yell at your brother?

 

CLAYTON: Well it kind of depends on what I’m mad about. Like, if it’s him, I’d yell at him, but sometimes, a lot of the time, it’s my mom or brother, because, you know.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So you might be– if I were watching you and you were in a bad mood, I might see you yelling at your mom or yelling at your brother.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Or just yelling about something that you’re mad about.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah. And not normally my dad, because he’s usually out of town.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ah. He’s out of town a lot, so you don’t yell at him.

 

CLAYTON: No.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: He’s not around.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Does that make it harder, too, I guess to be the oldest person– the oldest kid the family and then your dad’s not even home?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: What’s that like?

 

CLAYTON: Kind of hard, because my brother, he– he brags, like he thinks he’s just as good as– like he acts like just like an 11-year-old, and like all his friends are really kind of annoying. [LAUGH] And, yeah. He’s just– gets on my nerves about 90% of the time. So.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah.

 

So I’ll be he likes two things. I bet he likes your attention, and as much of it as he can get. Kind I’ll bet the other thing he likes it to get you in trouble.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah. He likes that a lot.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. So, that’s tricky. So I have some ideas of what might work.

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Because I’m betting that the same old thing all the time is going to stop working.

 

CLAYTON: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So do you know– there’s a famous guy who worked a lot with rats. Now, I don’t want to say that your brother’s a rat.

 

CLAYTON: He acts like one. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: [LAUGH] But do you know what the famous guy thought?

 

CLAYTON: What?

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: That punishment– you know what punishment is?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah? That’s like if you do something I don’t like– right? Let’s say you’re messing up your hair, and I go knock it off. Stop it.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Stop it. Stop messing up your hair. Stop it. So what do you want to do?

 

CLAYTON: Keep doing it.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. A lot of times– what he said was that punishment, when you punish someone, it just doesn’t work very well, because usually– hold out your hand. If I push you, what do you want to do?

 

CLAYTON: Push you back.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You want to push back, right? And pretty soon, we’re just pushing, and I’m saying, stop that! And you’re saying, I’ll do it if I want to. Right?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And so he said, punishment, not effective.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Rita, as we watch this session, and we’re in the middle at this point, I kind of find myself a little bit struck by how powerful the first-born birth order dynamic seems to be affecting Clayton in his life. And of course the family consolation method that I used to sort of uncover that is just one method. There are other methods, like earliest recollections, which, eh, it can be a little harder to do with a 10-year-old.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right, right. You know, and I noticed that you were using an educational approach. In fact, I think our friend B. F. Skinner may have actually been invited into the room.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Now, I never actually said the word Skinner, but, you know, my justification for that is that both Adler and Skinner would agree that punishment is generally an ineffective strategy, both in families and in life.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: In this next clip, you say something paradoxical, kind of, that people can watch for.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right. And I also try my best to keep Clayton awake and engaged.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Which can be challenging. So let’s watch and see if that worked.

 

CLAYTON: And I’d know where I’d get the money.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: [LAUGH] That’s true. It’s probably pretty expensive to send a seven-year-old to a hot place in Africa.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah, at least if I would have to pay for a round trip. [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: [LAUGH] That’s right.

 

CLAYTON: So.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: I can’t help but wonder, though, if thinking your brother is annoying– if that’s helpful or not helpful.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH] I don’t know.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Because I wonder if you think he’s annoying if that makes him more annoying.

 

CLAYTON: I don’t know.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: I don’t know either. That’s just a test. I wonder about if you were to start thinking that, boy, my brother is so nice– that would never work.

 

CLAYTON: Nuh uh.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: No? It’s impossible.

 

CLAYTON: Probably.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ah, brothers. They are tough.

 

CLAYTON: Yes, very.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Do you ever play any games? I’m going to do one with you now, even though it’s going to get us out of the camera a little bit. But I have this game that I play sometimes.

 

CLAYTON: Mmm, OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You ready? OK. So we’re going to try to stand up. We’re going to stand up. OK. And then, yeah, you should stand just like that, and put your toes toward my toes. Stand up pretty straight. So this is called the hand-pushing game. You ever done it?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Have you? Well, you don’t just touch my hands. You stay like this, OK? And then you go like that, and then whoever loses his balance first, loses.

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK? You ready? All right. Are you ready?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You’re pretty good. I usually win by now.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH] I’m kind of using the chair.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Oh, you are? Uh oh.

 

CLAYTON: [UNINTELLIGIBLE].

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Stand away. Stand back.

 

CLAYTON: Hold on.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Uh oh. All right. You’re all right.

 

CLAYTON: [UNINTELLIGIBLE].

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Now, OK. Now I can win.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ah, did you move your foot?

 

CLAYTON: Yes.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yes. I got you. OK. You ready? Round two? Oh. That’s– I forgot to tell you– one rule is you can’t hit people in the chest or anything. OK. So now you know that. Because I mean, I could go like that and just push you.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ugh! Ugh! Whoops. You OK?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. Ooh. All right. That’s two. One more?

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: OK. This is a little bit like your brother, right?

 

CLAYTON: A tiny bit.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: How is it like him?

 

CLAYTON: Probably the shoving. Oh, oh.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: [LAUGH] Ah. I guess I’m the champion.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So how do you think I won?

 

CLAYTON: Because you’re bigger.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Ah. That does help.

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: When you weigh more.

 

CLAYTON: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And so that’s why probably whenever you try to go up against your dad or your mom, you kinda lose.

 

CLAYTON: If my mom’s tried to, move my arm in certain directions, she can’t do it, but other than that, she can get me.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Can she?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. So you know what I like to– you know the trick of the game? So stick your hands out so we can do this sitting down. So you can almost always win– and if you do with your brother, I guarantee you you will win. OK?

 

CLAYTON: OK.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Do you know why? But not just because of size, but because of– do you know what the word strategy means?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yeah. It’s like if you were playing football or you were playing hockey, and you fake somebody out. Have you done that before?

 

CLAYTON: Mm-hmm.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: You know, you act like you’re going one direction, then you go the other direction– fake ’em out. So here’s the deal. One of the things that makes brothers annoying is a thing called revenge. You know what revenge is?

 

CLAYTON: Yeah.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So if you do this, OK? You start the game. You say, hey, Carter, do you want to play a game I learned? OK. And then you go like this, go, really fast. Like, slap him in the hands. And you know what he’s going to want to do?

 

CLAYTON: Get me back.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Exactly. And so then what do you do?

 

CLAYTON: Dodge it.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Just dodge it and he falls over, just like you did that one time, right.

 

CLAYTON: [LAUGH]

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And so it’s sort of a trick. And that’s exactly, I think, what’s going on with you and Carter, is it he annoys you. Right? He goes like this. Is that annoying? Huh?

 

CLAYTON: Kind of.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Am I being annoying?

 

CLAYTON: Yes.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And then what do you?

 

CLAYTON: Get him back.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Yes. You want to get him back. But he– the problem is he want you to get him back, because you are–

 

CLAYTON: Bigger.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: No.

 

CLAYTON: Older.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Sort of.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: So John, in that last session, I noticed that you used the hand-pushing technique, which was interesting. It’s not necessarily Adlerian.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right, it’s not. It’s really– I really was wanting to keep Clayton awake and engaged and involved, and I do think that Adlerian theory is very open to using all kinds of different strategies to help people glimpse different ways of acting and thinking in life. And so, yes, I use that, and I like it. I feel like it’s a fairly–

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: It worked.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: –useful strategy with kids.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Well, you’re right. And Adlerian therapists often use very provocative and interesting interventions. Sometimes they name them sort of provocative names, like spitting in the soup.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right, which is a little bit gross. So let’s not talk about that anymore. But instead, I would say that the Adlerian use of those provocative techniques is designed to enhance insight, which Adler believed then insight would enhance motivation toward positive changes.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm. And I also wanted to note that Adlerians will often involve the parent or the caretaker of a child when you’re working with a child Clayton’s age.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right. And another shout-out or positive thing about Adlerian approaches is that the Adlerians were really some of the first to emphasize doing parent consultations as a means of helping improve family life and children’s behaviors.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And even though we didn’t see a parent in this particular clip, I really think Adlerian is a great choice for a kid like Clayton, and can make a real difference.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: This session is an example of the existential approach, and it features a colleague of ours, Dr. Nilda Soto Bishop. If I were to try to boil down the existential perspective into a sentence or so, I’d say it focuses on meaning. And so the listening focus for the counselor or psychotherapist is on listening for what’s important or meaningful to the individual client.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Right. I also think it’s about self-awareness and consciousness.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And it’s about living life fully, embracing life fully, even in the face of death and other ultimate existential concerns.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Including aging, which has a big one for some of us. Peggy, who’s featured in this clip, is a 62-year-old graduate student, so obviously some of these issues are real for her.

 

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: And Nilda helps Peggy focus on some doubts and some concerns, as well as being genuine and spontaneous in the session. Another thing is that she also tries to develop an I-Thou relationship, and I think that’s consistent with existential theory– I-Thou relationship being a deep respect and honoring of the other person, and yet, at the same time, being genuine and spontaneous.

 

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN: Mm-hmm So let’s watch Nilda and Peggy at work.

 

NILDA SOTO BISHOP: Where do you want to go with this session? What do you feel like you could benefit most from talking about this section?

 

PEGGY: Well, you know that picture of the big jar and– it’s Stephen Covey, I think. And you fill it with the big rocks, and then you say, is the jar full? And then say, oh, yes, the jar is full. And then he says, well, no, wait. Look, you can put all this gravel–

 

NILDA SOTO BISHOP: Gravel in.

 

PEGGY: –in it. Yeah.

 

NILDA SOTO BISHOP: Yes.

 

PEGGY: And then is it full? Oh, yeah, well, no. You can put the sand in and then put water in it. And then what’s the lesson? And the people always think the lesson is you can always get more in the jar. But the lesson is, really, that those big rocks have to go in first.

 

So I’ve been thinking about that a lot– to know what the big rocks are and make sure they’re in the jar. And so my family, and work, and school, and my spiritual life are all in the jar. And I guess I would say that in these last few weeks, I just feel like those four rocks are jockeying for position–

 

NILDA SOTO BISHOP: In the jar.

 

PEGGY: –in the jar, yeah.

 

NILDA SOTO BISHOP: OK. They’re jockeying for position in that jar. But they all fit in the jar.

 

PEGGY: They’re in the jar, right.

 

NILDA SOTO BISHOP: They’re in the jar and they fit.

 

PEGGY: Yeah.

 

NILDA SOTO BISHOP: So tell me what position do they need to be in in that jar?

 

PEGGY: Well–

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