Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington

Graphics for Brief Therapy:
Overcoming Self-Discouragement

The following chart is from the handouts included in the Alfred Adler Institute of San Francisco's Distance Training Program in Classical Adlerian Psychotherapy, Course DT305: Brief, Group, and Marathon Therapy. The two circles were first utilized by Anthony Bruck, a master of Adlerian brief therapy, who had studied with Alfred Adler. Originally, the chart was included in a series of ten graphic aids that were used in brief therapy and teaching Adlerian psychology to adults and children.

  • In the Vicious Circle of Self-Discouragement (above left), at point A the person feels and thinks, "I cannot do it." Then at point B he does not try. As a result, at point C, the person has no encouraging experiences. Then he is back at point A again and he continues to feel and think "I cannot do it." The person goes on with a negative attitude toward self.
  • To help people out of their vicious circles, one has to find ways to give them the Perhaps Bridge over to the Beneficial Circle of Self-Encouragement. If the person feels and thinks "Perhaps I can do it" at point D, then at point E he exposes himself to new experiences and keeps trying. Then at point F he makes his own encouraging experiences. The result is a self-encouraging feeling "I can do it."
  • This chart is a work in progress -- your comments and suggestions are invited. Please respond to
  • For a textual introduction to Alfred Adler's ideas, read Classical Adlerian Theory and Practice.

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