Wise Counsel Interview Transcript: An Interview with Becky LaFountain, Ph.D. on Adlerian Psychology and Psychotherapy
David Van Nuys: Welcome to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by Mentalhelp.net, covering topics in mental health, wellness, and psychotherapy. My name is Dr. David Van Nuys. I'm a clinical psychologist and your host.
On today's show we'll be talking about Adlerian psychology with Dr. Becky LaFountain. Dr. Becky LaFountain is a licensed psychologist and diplomate in Adlerian psychology. The latter is a recognition awarded by the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology, of which she has been the executive director since 2002. She's an assistant professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State Harrisburg, and previously was a professor in the Department of Counseling, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. She has authored approximately 20 articles and two books, one of which is A School with Solutions, which presents solutions in schools based on Adlerian and solution focused theories. Additionally, she has a part-time practice called Counseling on West Chocolate, located on West Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania..
Now, here's the interview.
Dr. Becky LaFountain, welcome to Wise Counsel.
Becky LaFountain: Thank you.
David: Well, let's start out with your background. How did you get interested in psychology in the first place?
Becky LaFountain: Well, actually I started out as a French major in college and I did graduate with that. I had a minor in psychology and when I was doing my student teaching, a couple things happened there. My student teacher, who I was working under, she was working on her counseling degree and she would talk a lot about that, and that really interested me. And I found out through working with the students that they had a lot more on their mind than just conjugating verbs and that kind of thing. At the same time in college I was a resident assistant in a residence hall, so I, as a peer counselor, worked with a lot of students that way. So as soon as I graduated I did go on and pursue my degrees in counseling.
Actually I have a master's and a doctorate in counseling, but in the state of Pennsylvania you can get licensed as a psychologist with a doctorate in counseling as long as you've been supervised by a clinical psychologist and you take the exam and all of that. But I found a big link between studying languages and my love for psychology is just the whole aspect of culture and people. There's a common denominator in both, and I have found a lot of people who have started out with language and then end up going into psychology.
David: Well, that's interesting. Where did you do your doctoral work?
Becky LaFountain: I did it at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, the second oldest college in the United States. It's a very beautiful campus.
David: Yes, I've heard about it. Which is the first oldest, would that be Harvard?
Becky LaFountain: Yes, Harvard is the first.
David: And so is the counseling program that you went through, was that oriented towards school psychology?
Becky LaFountain: My master's program had different tracks and I did, yes, I did tend to go towards the school counseling end, and I did get certified as a school counselor. But then my doctoral program was more generic, so that you just came out of there with a doctorate in counseling.
David: Okay, well, you've specialized in Adlerian psychology. How did that come about?
Becky LaFountain: Through my course work, I never really had a course just in Adlerian psychology, but when covering theories and so forth, you'd get a little bit of that here and there and it interested me. And also, I should say I was a school counselor for a while and then as I worked as a licensed therapist, I would often work with parents and do parenting programs. And I always used a program called STEPS, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, which was based totally on Adlerian psychology and many - and I should say most - of the parenting programs out there are. There's Active Parenting, Positive Discipline, and those particular programs, they do promote Adlerian; they do let the people know in the programs that it is based on Adlerian. There are some other programs out there that also use Adlerian theory and techniques, but it's not so pronounced; it's not always in the forefront. So when working with parents in those various positions, I came to like Adlerian even more.
But it wasn't really until I was teaching at Shippensburg University where I was assigned to teach theories of personality, and I started looking at the various textbooks and I wasn't really satisfied with any of them. And I remembered even myself as a student taking those 15 week classes where every week you dealt with a different theorist and you just had one small chapter and never went into any depth. And so I chose, instead of using a chapter book, to just choose four or five major theorists and to use their primary works; and so I had the students read the works that the theorists actually wrote. And when I read the Adlerian text that I had picked for that, I just fell in love with Adlerian, or I just felt at home. And I thought this is what I've been doing; I know now what theory I can put it to. It just felt very comfortable to me, made a lot of sense. And I think Adlerian psychology is not only a psychology that we use in practice and in teaching, but it's a way of life. So it just really fit for me all around.
David: Okay, well, I'm eager to find out more about all of that. Now, are you considered an Adlerian analyst, in the way that there are Freudian psychoanalysts who attend an analytic training institute and go through a personal Freudian psychoanalysis? Did you do something like that?
Becky LaFountain: No, and even in the Adlerian field, we wouldn't call ourselves analysts because that has a very different connotation. One thing, I think, that anyone who does go by Adler likes, is that the relationship that you have with your client is very egalitarian. We feel that the client, himself or herself, is really the expert and we work together to look at issues and solve problems and things like that. Where just the connotation of an analyst gives more the idea of the analyst or the therapist being the expert and trying to figure out what's going on with the patient, where we see it more as where we're working together collaboratively.
David: Yes, that makes a lot of sense to me. I sort of have strong ties to, I guess, what would generally be called the humanistic approach, and we would espouse a very similar philosophy. Now, I have to confess that I'm one of those 15 week wonders myself. I don't know much about the Adlerian approach. My own doctoral program was very Freudian and I remember taking a graduate course in personality theories, much like the one you just described, and people like Jung and Adler received scant coverage. I don't even think they got a week; I think there was a page or two in the book at most.
Becky LaFountain: Exactly.
David: And so I went onto Wikipedia and tried to do a little bit of background research to prepare for this interview. I read there that Adler was the first to be dismissed from Freud's inner circle. What was it that Adler was espousing that Freud was so upset about?
Becky LaFountain: Adler, after some time, realized how different their beliefs were. For a couple of years, Adler was very involved in Freud's society and was even the editor of his journal, but Adler found that they differed on a couple major things. One is the major need of a person. Where Freud had the needs more based in instincts and things like that, and sexual drives and aggression and things like that, Adler believed that people's major need was to feel like the person belonged to a group and also felt significant. So Adler's whole belief was more positive, I would say, and that type of thing. So that was probably the major break that they had, the major discrepancy in their theories. So Adler did leave and then really started working on his own theory. Oftentimes people think that Adler is a disciple of Freud; in many of these chapter books he's lumped in with Freud as a psychoanalyst, but he was really with Freud for just a very short time of his professional life.
David: Okay, and just from the little that you've said and what I've read, I can see that he was very forward looking in many ways. Maybe you can take us through some of the key constructs of the theory.
Becky LaFountain: Okay, one of the primary ones is the idea of social embeddedness. You're going to hear me say "the first one" or "foremost in this" because many Adlerians, and even people outside of the Adlerian field - I can quote many people who do put together those chapter books or whatever - will say that Adler was the first at this or that, so I don't think it's just my personal belief. But he was the first one to look at the individual within their social context, so that's what I mean by social embeddedness. And, again, a lot of the things maybe I will be comparing to Freud because a lot of people are familiar with Freud. He is very prominent in even works that lay people read and so forth.
For instance where Freud was more reductionistic - where he looked at the id, ego, superego - Adler believed that a person was holistic, that you couldn't separate parts of the person. And so he was into the mind and the body working together, so that would be a second construct that I would talk about. And, as I mentioned, he was in the forerunning of many ideas. Nowadays some people will go to doctors or people in alternative practices who promote that they're holistic. And people who go to those kinds of people think that's very avant garde, but again, way back at the turn of the century, Adler was talking about holism.
Now, right after he named his theory, and the real proper name of the theory is Individual psychology, although we call it Adlerian psychology all the time. And one of the reasons is, Individual psychology is misleading, because if I tell people that I practice Individual psychology they think I meet with people one on one and I don't do couple work or family work. What he meant by Individual psychology is this holistic, and it comes from the German word because that was his native language in Vienna, Austria; and the translation got messed up. He meant for it to be Indivisible psychology, meaning a person is indivisible, you can't cut them into parts or look at different aspects. And when it got translated it came out Individual psychology, so that has caused a problem for this field all along. People don't really understand that. So in talking about all that, those are two concepts: one is the social embeddedness, that we are individuals within our social context and that we look at the entire being.
So Adler did believe that our first social group, of course, was our family and that we learn how to get along in life through how we learn in our family. And then those behaviors - or in Adlerian we call personality approach to life - we call that the lifestyle. Again, lifestyle: we use that today to mean maybe an alternative lifestyle or whatever, but back in Adler's time that's the word he used for personality. So people learn their approach to life, their lifestyle, in the way that they interact within their family, and oftentimes they can carry that on when they go off to school and go out into the workplace and so forth. But sometimes the pattern they learn in the family doesn't work for them anymore. I can give an example. For instance, let's say a woman in her own childhood learned to maybe be the good one in the family. Maybe she had an older sister who was always getting in trouble or something like that, so she looks at that and makes a decision: I don't like all this chaos, I don't like getting in trouble, I'm going to be the good one. And maybe she turns out to be a pleaser, and maybe it works with her parents, it works with her teachers. But then when she gets to the workplace, maybe it does work with her bosses, but then maybe there are some things she doesn't agree with, so then it will be very hard for this person to be assertive or to try to make some changes in the workplace. And I have had someone like that in my counseling setting; that is what she worked on in counseling, to be more assertive and to find out that that approach - maybe it worked for her as a child - but she does need to make some changes so that she can be more effective in her adult life. So that all comes into play with the social embeddedness.
David: I'm thinking of Eric Fromm who emphasized the social context quite a bit and I don't know if he was influenced by Adler or not, but in a way both of these seem to be forerunners of the field that later came to be called social psychology.
Becky LaFountain: Yes, there's a lot of overlap there. And it's interesting that you mention social psychology because this semester I just got done teaching Intro to Social Psychology and Advanced and again, when looking for my textbooks for those courses, I was very disappointed. I could not find one that even mentioned Adler in the index, because I do think that Adler had a place in social psychology. And doing a little digging, Gardner Murphy who was an individual who about 1939 or something wrote a very well-known history of psychology, he states right in there that we should look to Alfred Adler as the forerunner of the social sciences, or something like that. So it's kind of sad to me that Adler's contemporaries recognized where he stood, but through the decades some of that has been forgotten or shuffled around. So even there in the social psychology, a lot of Adlerian concepts play out.
David: Yes, I was also struck by some similarities to Jung. I've been pretty interested in Jung myself. He didn't get much coverage in graduate school either, so it was later, after I was out of graduate school, that I became interested in Jung. And one strong point of similarity seems to be this emphasis on striving towards wholeness, which I gather Adler talks about inferiority and the drive to superiority, but supposedly superiority might be another one of those mistranslated words, and that it's more about completeness or wholeness.
Becky LaFountain: Oh, exactly, and that's another big concept I was hoping to cover, and it's one that's - if anyone does know anything about Adler - they seem to know about inferiority-superiority. But you're actually right because sometimes people say, ''Superior, I didn't think that was good, to be superior over other people." I like how you say completeness, and another word I like to use for it is significance, trying to be the most significant you can, carrying out your strengths and all of that, but Adler always said within a social interest context; and I'll get to that in a minute.
But going back to inferiority-superiority, sometimes people think inferiority is a terrible position to be in, but it depends on how you react to the inferiority. If it does hold you down, hold you back, then yes; but oftentimes when someone feels inferior, they look around and kind of compare themselves to others. It can serve as a motivator to help someone do what they can do. And that's something Adler always talked about also. It's not what you have, but it's what you do with what you have.
So Adler himself was a very sickly child; he had rickets and he would go to sports things but have to sit on the sidelines. But, again, he didn't feel sorry for himself and hold himself back. What he did on the sidelines, he was very outgoing, gregarious, and he developed his social skills. And so he would have liked to have been playing sports, but he did with what he had and used that to the best of his ability. He could have felt inferior but, no, he did strive for completeness.
David: Yes, one of the things that I've read is that in Adlerian psychology there's a focus on strengths. And I find that that's interesting because there's this whole new movement in psychology called positive psychology. I don't think they ever refer to Adler, but again it sounds like he was forward looking in that regard.
Becky LaFountain: Right, and that's what I like about it, the strengths; and it's just amazing. Again, sometimes when I see some people for counseling and I always try to stress the strengths, and sometimes they're just surprised. They're like, "You got that out of me in just one session," or "I've never noticed that in myself." But it really gives people hope and that's what I really like about it. And this whole positive psychology movement - one of our very key members, Eva Dreikurs Ferguson, her father was Rudolf Dreikurs who was a very strong advocate of Adlerian psychology here in the United States. Again, many of the parenting programs and things are written after his work, but anyway, enough talk about him. But Eva Dreikurs Ferguson, she has a link with positive psychology and did get us connected; and by "us" that's the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology which I serve as the executive director of. And her father, Dreikurs, started NASAP, this organization, 57 years ago. So she's linked us - the positive psychology and NASAP - together. We don't do a lot together but we do have each other's links on our webs and are aware of each other and try to promote each other, so that's a first step in that direction.
And getting back to the positiveness and even the inferiority and superiority, I had mentioned that Adler did everything, though, within the context of social interest. Now, there's a word again - here's another translation thing and I'm going to really blow it - but it's a German word, Gemeinschaftgefühl, which means - there's not a direct translation - it can be "social interest" some people say, "community" some other people say. But Adler felt that someone who has the social interest feeling, that's a component of mental health. And so when people make decisions or that type of thing, that when they have common-sense in mind - which Adler coined the term common-sense, the better sense of the community and mind - that is very mentally healthy.
And I even notice that with some of my clients sometimes. For instance, someone with a lot of anxiety, they will often be focusing inward and on themselves: what are people thinking of them? How am I going to look? And all of these kind of things. But when they start looking outward, which would be part of this social interest, and including other people in their thoughts or in their decisions and things like that, then oftentimes it alleviates the anxiety, because they're not focusing so much on themselves. So this whole social interest piece is a very big part of Adlerian psychology as well.
David: So it sounds like it would support things like volunteerism, social activism, environmentalism, becoming involved with the community and having a larger sense of purpose than just focusing on one self.
Becky LaFountain: Exactly. And so it's that kind of thing, like you said; the volunteerism but just basically in a way that someone treats someone else. Respect is the cornerstone and equality. Adler was, again, way ahead of his time in some things having to do with equality. He was a forerunner in the women's movement. There's an area that he talked about, it was called "masculine protest" and what this meant was, at the time that he lived women were not looked upon very highly, and Adler felt bad about that. He very much respected the role of women in the society at the time and thought that they should be valued for that. At the same time, then, he felt bad for the position men were put in because there were so many demands on them. This whole term of masculine protest sort of boils down to, at that time and even now we need to respect everyone for the role they play in life and the choices they make and so forth, and no one role is superior than another, but we all need to cooperate - which again is another big Adlerian word - and work together to make things happen.
And Adler talked about three tasks of life that we all face. One is an occupation, because we're put on this earth, and to be able to survive and all of that we need a way to live and feed ourselves and all of that. A second task of life is, again, with the social aspect I talked about, the task of friendship or society. And then the third one is of love or intimacy; and the sexual role and all that is played in there. And part of it is the procreation. If we don't have that piece then we are not going to continue as a society.
And so Adler also has bits and pieces throughout his theory that evolutionist psychologists would say that he was talking about some things that they talk about in their evolutionary psychology fields.
David: Yes, again with reference to - a little embarrassing how much I rely on Wikipedia, but at the same time I do find it to be an excellent source of information and often fairly authoritative - and so there was a passage there that said Adler had an "enormous effect on the disciplines of counseling and psychotherapy as they developed over the course of the 20th century"; and that's quoting Ellenberger, who I think is a historian of science and psychology. And it goes on to say that Adler "influenced notable figures in subsequent schools of psychotherapy such as Rollo May, Viktor Frankl, Abraham Maslow and Albert Ellis." What was it about his approach that these and other theorists were responding to? I think you've already touched on some elements but I just thought I'd run some of these names by you to see what it would spark.
Becky LaFountain: Yeah, exactly. I know Rollo May did study with him and he did bring in the positiveness and the social aspect. And Maslow with his "hierarchy of needs" which I think most people know about, again, he got that from Adler - the growth part of Adler's theory as opposed to other theories that looked more at dysfunction and so forth. So that piece of it fits. Now Albert Ellis, with his REBT, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, he took the cognitive piece that Adler talked about. And, again, Adler was one of the first ones to talk about our perceptions; that it isn't necessarily what happens to us but it's our perception or our belief about what happens to us that is going to result in how we feel about it and so forth. And so that's the piece that Ellis jumped on. His was not as holistic as Adler, but he really enlarged the whole cognitive piece.
David: Yes, he really did jump on that. I also read that Adler's writings preceded and were at time surprisingly consistent with later Neo-Freudian insights such as those evidenced in the works of Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan and Eric Fromm.
Becky LaFountain: Exactly. Of those three, Horney is the one I'm most familiar with and, again, she built in the social context in the community piece, so I think that's, again, the part that she borrowed from Adler, as well as a more positive view of women. Well, that would make sense with her being a woman herself, but she very much found Freud's view of women distasteful and did not agree with his ideas there at all.
David: As have so many other women responded in that way, particularly in recent years.
Becky LaFountain: Some of these other people, too, went in the direction of goals, and that's one other area I did want to talk about. Adlerian psychology is very much into teleology, which means purpose and goals. And we think of it on two levels. When we're working with people, we very much set immediate goals with them or short-term. But there's another sense of purpose in life and we say that people even may not be aware of it or can put into concrete terms, but people have out in front of them this fictional finalism, some kind of goal that they have; like maybe they want to leave a legacy or they want to make a difference in life, or it could be many different things. But that goal that they have out there is something that they strive through towards for their entire life. And it's one of those things that you never really get to it, because if you are striving towards it it's something that's always out in front and you always add more to the goal. Anyway, that's another thing I wanted to make sure I got in, that Adlerians really emphasize purpose and goals in life. And we believe that all behavior is meaningful and purposeful.
David: Okay, that's another point of similarity with the Jungian approach too - just to add that little footnote on my own. Now, on your association website it says, "Adler's work is fundamental to the professions and practices of school psychology, school counseling, the community mental health movement and parent education." So maybe you could comment on that. I notice that's your own background, that's kind of why I asked if your counseling program had specialized in education.
Becky LaFountain: Okay, yes, our organization is open to people of all those backgrounds and parents, so again we're very egalitarian; we feel that the theory is very useful and so people from any of those backgrounds. Business also uses our information. In our organization we have six different, we call them, sections but they're specialty areas and one of them is business as well. Things, for instance, that businesses use like team meetings and that type of thing are really a follow through of what Adler did way back in the late '20s and '30s when he was the first one to start team meetings, which many of us are familiar with now, either in the business field or in the psychology field, where when we have a client who is really struggling or we're struggling with we pull together different experts. Well, Adler did that in Vienna; he had over 30 child guidance clinics set up around there, and when someone had difficulty with a student, he wouldn't just send them to a psychiatrist, he would say let's get together the parents, the teachers, maybe the principal of the school, a psychologist and figure this out. So that was the basis of a lot of team meetings that we have today. So Adler himself instituted a lot of things in the schools. That's why the theory is so practical in education.
Classroom meetings are a big thing that we promote in schools where teachers, particularly starting at the elementary level, will - it'd be nice if they do it daily - but at least weekly have a period of time where the kids sit in a circle. They start out very positively by sharing compliments with each other. If they do have any problems in the classroom, they share them together and try to come up with solutions. This way, again, the children learn problem solving skills and it's not an adult telling them what to do, but at a very young age within their own capabilities, coming up and making decisions about things that are important to their life; and those are real life skills that they can carry on forever. So it's a very good model, a very democratic model. And that's what all the parenting and teaching programs and everything that Adlerians use is from a democratic model, where we have a balance between freedom and power and that kind of thing, and giving people choices within their context. I think sometimes people, when they hear about democratic parenting styles, they have a misconception about it that you just let the children run free, and that's not true. It's you as the parent or the teacher setting boundaries but then giving the children a lot of choices within those boundaries so that they can be successful. And then as they get older and more capable, the boundaries just keep expanding.
David: That makes a lot of sense to me. And I can see that with the child guidance centers that he founded in Vienna, that there was a natural fit with education and perhaps he's better known in education than in psychology. I don't know, is that the case? Or are people just using his ideas without knowing where they came from?
Becky LaFountain: Well, I think part of that is, yeah, they're using his ideas without knowing where they're coming from, but I think you're absolutely right about a good fit in education because Adler himself saw counseling as an educational process. He was very well known for going around Europe and then his last 10 years of his life he spent a lot of time in the US, and he would give lectures in front of these huge auditoriums and he would actually do counseling in front of these auditoriums so that people could learn, not only from him, but even people who weren't professionals who were in the audience, they would see a family up there getting counseling and they'd be, "Oh, that's how we are." So they would see that counseling wasn't this mystical thing behind closed doors, but it's basically just an educational process where people have to learn different skills or different ways of doing things. And around the US, in connection many of the times with NASAP, this organization, we have family education centers that do run parenting programs and a few of them still do these, we call them, open family forums, where a counselor will do these live demonstrations where it's a very empowering learning experience for the family involved who are up front and the ones out in the audience who can identify with what's going on up there and learn from them. And we make it really clear that it is an educational process, not necessarily a therapeutic process.
David: That's really fascinating because I'm remembering back in the '60s and early '70s people like Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir doing demonstrations at conferences. And I didn't realize that there was a history going back as far as Adler with that sort of openness, you know, of saying, well, here's what the process looks like.
Becky LaFountain: And that's what I love about Adlerian conferences. That still is going on a lot today at our conferences and it's very interesting. And my favorite way of learning is to watch the experts and sometimes maybe not so experts, the people who are just courageous up there, willing to share what they know. And the reason I stress courageous is because as Adlerians we talk about courage a lot because one of our strongest techniques is encouragement. And I always like to say - again, I go back to my French background - the core word in there is coeur, which means heart. So to have courage is to have heart and to encourage is to give heart. And sometimes people think, well, if that's your main technique, that's so easy. But we offer courses in encouragement that are full semester courses; so there's a lot to encouragement, and that is the cornerstone of our theory and our practice.
David: That's interesting, because that really articulates again with the idea of positive psychology, of building on people's strengths, encouraging their strengths and offering support.
Becky LaFountain: Exactly.
David: So one of the things I guess I'm wondering is if I were a fly on the wall in an Adlerian counseling session, what would I see? Would I see anything, say, that would be distinctive as compared to other things that counselors and therapists from other schools of thought are doing today?
Becky LaFountain: I think a couple of thing that are quite distinct: one is a technique that Adler came up with, which is the question. And this is something he would use to try to determine if what was going on with the person was more circumstantial or if it was truly a medical issue. And what he would do, let's say someone came in and said they were depressed, he would ask them the question, which would be, how would your life be, if you weren't depressed? And if they said, oh, I'd be going back to school and I'd be getting a new job and all of this, then he would assume it was more situational. If they looked at him and said, I just can't even envision that and would answer in that type of a way, that would a point where he would know that it was not just situational. And some other theories have taken a spin off of that. There's a theory - I don't know if you're familiar - the solution focused therapy? It's de Shazer's group and so forth. They have something called the miracle question which is very similar to that, where they will say, if you went to sleep tonight and a miracle happened and you woke up tomorrow and you didn't have this problem that you're having right now. So they did, knowing or unknowing to them, borrow that from Adlerians. But anyway, the question, I think, is something a little unique to Adlerian.
Another thing is early recollections. We believe that it's important what people remember, not necessarily what people have forgotten. There are some other theories who try to get into the unconscious and all of that, and Adlerians don't spend a lot of time with that. We're more in tune with what people are aware of and what they remember. So typically, particularly if it's not just where someone's coming in for just one certain issue, but they have some kind of underlying lifestyle or personality issue going on, we will get from them in the beginning or first or second session, at least three or five early recollections, their first memories that they have. And what's interesting about that is we tell them, just tell us whatever pops into your mind, and it needs to be very specific, though. Like if a client would say to me, well, I remember every Sunday we used to go to my grandmother's for chicken dinner. I would ask them, now, can you tell me one specific time, and then they might think and they might say, well, I remember this time when we went to Grandma's for chicken dinner. My cousin and I were down in the basement and we found a bottle of wine. But it has to be specific. The thing about that is, again - you get more than one, of course - but you can use these for so many things; oftentimes what's important to them in that early memory is like a metaphor for how they approach life and also what's going on with them right now.
Because you think, people would have thousands of memories; why would those particular ones just pop up at the moment where they're being asked that? And it's because there's some connection to their current situation, and that's what we get to them when we talk about the memories. One thing I really like to do first is look through the memories and try to pick out strengths. And sometimes it might be a horrible memory, where maybe someone witnessed a death or something like that, and at first they're like, "How can you pick out any strengths from that?" But we do do that together, and after I model a few that I pull out, I try to get them engaged in doing that so we work on the strengths. And then towards the end of the whole process, we try to see how this memory fits the current situation, and often how they have solved the problem or whatever and the memory is exactly what they need to do now. Or it's just really fascinating; I just love doing early recollection work.
David: Well, thank you, you have given me a sense of the flavor of the work. And it's so synchronistic that yesterday I was having lunch with a former student and an old friend, who asked me if I knew about the miracle question. And so we were talking about that just yesterday. And he brought it up in connection with narrative therapy, so it's interesting how these ideas kind of circulate and get absorbed into one approach or another. So let me ask you, what do you see as the future of the Adlerian approach? Is it growing, evolving, shrinking, what do you see?
Becky LaFountain: I see it pretty stable at least in the organization that I head. Our membership has been pretty stable. I do see in Europe more growth of it there; I'm also connected with it through our international association, and they're really doing a lot of work there. And through our association, we have these little hubs around the US and Canada which we call affiliates, and in Europe they don't really have a place that they can put their anchor, so they have been starting a lot of affiliates and asking if they can join our North American society and attach to us. So they're starting a lot of these little affiliates and they're getting some of our well-known Adlerians to come over and teach them and speak to them. So I would say in North America we're kind of stable right now, but I'm seeing a growth in Europe.
David: Okay, well, where would a clinician turn if they wished to get some training in the Adlerian approach?
Becky LaFountain: There are a few universities around North America that do specialize in Adlerian psychology. Probably the most well known is in Chicago, and that's the Adler School of Professional Psychology, and they also have - I don't know if we call it a branch or whatever - but in Vancouver, they have a school there as well. Georgia State, some of their faculty are strong in Adlerian, as well as Florida Atlantic. So that's if people wanted more of a degree, but in the office we get the question all the time where people can't relocate to get it, so another way is to go to workshops and conferences and trainings and things like that. And NASAP we have an annual conference every year; we're having one June 25-28 and it will be held in Tucson, Arizona. But also, as I mentioned, these 30 plus affiliates we have around the continent, they're often putting on trainings and so forth, so I would really encourage people, if they have interest in that, to go to our web. Is it all right if I promote that?
David: Oh, sure, definitely.
Becky LaFountain: Okay, and it's just www.alfredadler.org and there we have listings of professional development and our contact information, so if people did want to contact us to see if there's anything in their area, or if they wanted to talk more about some of the universities that do offer some courses. But there does seem to be more of a need than what's out there, because, again, the places where people can get training are limited and sometimes not always in people's backyards.
David: Yes, now what if a listener wanted to find an Adlerian therapist. How would they go about finding one?
Becky LaFountain: We could also assist them at NASAP. We have our database of members and members do indicate if we can give out their information, if they are a clinician or therapist. And so if they call in or send us an email, we're always happy to search our database and let them know if we have anybody in their immediate area.
David: Okay, great. Well, Dr. Becky LaFountain, you've been very generous with your time. Thanks so much for being our guest today on Wise Counsel.
Becky LaFountain: It's been my pleasure. Thank you so much.
David: I hope you found this interview with Dr Becky LaFountain as informative as I did. I actually learned quite a bit. Clearly, many of the ideas that I've embraced over the years have their roots in Adlerian thinking, and I was unaware of this. If you wish to learn more, you're encouraged to visit the website that Dr. LaFountain mentioned, which once again is www.alfredadler.org.
You've been listening to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by Mentalhelp.net. If you found today's show interesting, we encourage you to visit Mentalhelp.net, where you can add a comment or question to this show's web page, view other shows in the series, or simply page through the site, which is full of interesting mental health and wellness content. Access the show's page and show archive information via the podcast box on the Mentalhelp.net home page.
If you like Wise Counsel, you might also like ShrinkRapRadio, my other interview podcast series, which is available online at www.shrinkrapradio.com. Until next time, this is Dr. David Van Nuys, and you've been listening to Wise Counsel.