Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington

Demonstration of Second Interview in
Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy

This is an unedited transcription of a demonstration of various stages of individual adult psychotherapy. It was presented at the Cape Cod Seminars in June of 1997. Henry T. Stein, Ph.D. worked with Martha E. Edwards, Ph.D. who played her client. This material is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced, in whole or part, without the expressed consent of Dr. Stein.

H= Henry


H - How can I help you today?

M - I don’t know, I’m just really upset.

H - Upset? About what?

M - I mean, I’ve just felt like I want to cry for the last two days.

H - Have you cried?

M - Yeah.

H - Do you feel like crying now?

M - I might, I don’t know. I feel kind of silly crying, but...

H - Well, I’d like to encourage you if you feel like crying just to cry. Are you -- would you be comfortable crying in my presence?

M - I’m not sure. I’m not sure.

H - Well, I’m comfortable with it, ok?

M - (I don’t know. I don’t know.) We have this lunch at the center. I’m in charge of the volunteer program. That’s something I took on a few months ago. And, um, these people, I mean, they don’t appreciate anything, they don’t -- you know, we have this nice luncheon to thank them for all of their work. And it was really, you know, it was very nice. And a lot of people thought it was very nice, and -- but you know, we have this one woman, Helen Brown, Helen Brown, and she just doesn’t like anything.

H - Doesn’t like anything.

M - No.

H - And this some little thing that you did that she doesn’t like?

M - Yeah, right, she doesn’t anything I do.

H - Nothing that you do. How do you know this?

M - Well, she came up to me and -- we got these little gifts for them, these little, like, crystal apples, you know, the Big Apple, that kind of thing. Well, she didn’t like that at all.

H - Didn’t like the crystal apple.

M - No.

H - Ok, so that’s one thing she didn’t like. Did she hate it or just -- how did she express herself?

M - It’s not what she says, it the snooty way she has of just looking down her nose...

H - And she only does this with you?

M - I don’t know. I don’t see her with anybody else.

H - Is it possible she does this with other people?

M - I don’t know.

H - You haven’t observed that.

M - No.

H - What else did she not like about what you did?

M - Well, that’s the only thing she said to me, but her whole attitude -- I mean, she comes in and she looks around and she’s like, you know, “Huh!” Like, the flowers weren’t quite right, and you know, she just doesn’t...

H - And you -- you arranged the flowers, too?

M - Yes, I arranged everything.

H - You arranged everything. That was quite a bit of work, wasn’t it?

M - Yes! And it’s only extra to what -- everything else I’m doing. It’s not as if, like, I have all this time.

H - Were you pleased with what you did?

M - Yes. I thought it was really nice.

H - Were you proud of what you did?

M - Yes.

H - Were you satisfied with doing. Did you like the doing of it before it got done? Am I confusing you?

M - I don’t -- I don’t understand.

H - You don’t understand. While you were getting things ready, ok, before it was all completed, did you like the process of doing it, of arranging the flowers, or making sure that they were done correctly?

M - I don’t know. I -- I guess -- I’m just -- I just want to get it done.

H - Ok. So it may be that you didn’t enjoy the getting there as much as being there, right? The being all done and finished.

M - Yeah. I mean, that’s the idea. I mean, you’ve got to get -- you have to be finished.

H - Whose idea, yours or somebody else’s idea?

M - Well, you have to get it done. You have to get it done right. I mean, doesn’t every...

H - I’m saying, is this part of your job, that you have to get it done right?

M - Sure. Absolutely.

H - Ok. Is there anything about your job that you can’t enjoy it? Is that part of the job description? I’m wondering why you don’t seem to have a sense of how you feel about doing it, and there doesn’t seem to be a sense of enjoyment.

M - Well, I guess -- no one is going to care whether I enjoy it. So, I mean, they’re gonna -- they’re not gonna come in and say oh, Liz, did you enjoy it? You know, they’re gonna say hey, this is looking like crap, or they’ll say this is nice.

H - Nobody’s going to care.

M - No. Right.

H - Not even you?

M - Well -- well, if it -- you know, I could enjoy it, but if it’s not done right, who the hell cares? You know? What good is it?

H - That would spoil it. If nobody else cared.

M - Well, if nobody else cared, but if it wasn’t done right. Who -- you know, it doesn’t matter how I -- if I enjoyed it or not. I mean, if it’s not done right...

H - Have you ever worked on a project and done your very best, and it didn’t turn out right, but you knew you tried your best and so you kind of gave yourself a pat on the back for the effort? Have you ever done that?

M - (Laughs) No way.

H - Have you ever known anybody who’s done that?

M - I’ve sure never talked to anybody about it.

H - Never seen anybody who’s done this. So it’s...

M - You know, I have, but I thought they were idiots, you know? It turned out not to be right, so why are they giving themselves a pat on the back? I mean, it’s not right. In fact, it bothered me, it pissed me off! Here they’re having a good time and then it’s not right.

H - Do you know anything about Thomas Edison, anything about his life as an inventor?

M - Uh uh. I mean, no.

H - Do you think he invented the electric light (snaps fingers) just like that?

M - Was he the one that said 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration?

H - Could be. Do you know how many times he failed in his experiments? (Inaudible) to find out. Why didn’t he stop after once, twice, maybe two times. They think maybe it could have been even a hundred times he failed.

M - But did he like it?

H - That’s what I’m wondering? How could you find out if he liked it or not? Was the man an idiot?

M - No, ‘cause he got it right, finally.

H - When?

M - Well, maybe it took him a hundred times. But then...

H - Was he miserable all through that (inaudible)? Was he depressed all through that?

M - I don’t know.

H - Or was he having fun? I don’t know.

M - Was he?

H - I’m wondering. Would it be interesting to find out something like this?

M - Yeah.

H - I’m interested in finding out if people can do this.

M - I could invent the light bulb.

H - Well, but that’s already been done. Do we need another light bulb invention right now? You have had some background in acting and in dance, right? Is there nothing new ever that needs to be added to those disciplines? You just keep it the same year after year, generation after...

M - You know , you know -- you know, let me tell you, twenty years ago when I was making dance, back them it was all form.

H - Form.

M - And you weren’t supposed to be emotional. Well, I put emotion into my dances, and you know, people thought I was kind of nuts.

H - They did. And that’s...

M - And now, guess what?

H - Did that stop you?

M - Well...

H - Did that discourage you?

M - Yeah, I felt kind of like I was really out of it, like I was some freak, you know?

H - Freak, yeah. But did you stop doing it?

M - Yeah, I did. And now, emotion -- emotion is the big thing.

H - So you were a pioneer?

M - I was. But no one accepted it.

H - Is it any different with other innovators? Do you know about Galileo? Was his work immediately accepted?

M - Nope.

H - And what if he said, nobody’s interested, I’d better stop? Isn’t this the fate of a pioneer, that they have to proceed because they think it’s right? Maybe it takes some courage to do this. Maybe it takes a goal that allows you to keep going even if others don’t praise you, even if they criticize you. Who did you develop this idea of emotional dance for? For yourself? Or for anybody else?

M - You mean...

H - Well, is it -- was it a private thing you just wanted to do to be unique? (Was that -- is that it,) period?

M - I don’t even think it was that. It was that I had a lot to express.

H - It was an expression.

M - Yeah.

H - Ok. To who?

M - To anybody, to everybody.

H - Well, but who normally would see it?

M - To the audience.

H - An audience. So you...

M - To the other dancers, too.

H - All right. Do you think anybody would benefit from that?

M - Yeah, I -- I think -- I think people were moved by my work.

H - People were moved by your dance more than they were before because they just saw a nice form before?

M - Yeah, I think so.

H - Ok. So it benefited you perhaps because you were expressing a feeling that you liked to do. You wanted to do that. It may have benefited the other dancers because that would do what?

M - It would give them something to -- to express to.

H - And kind of benefited the audience how?

M - By being, you know, stimulated, moved by it.

H - Then who was being hurt by this?

M - Nobody.

H - And why were you being -- you were being criticized by not -- what was the...

M - Well, just no one was doing it, um, what I saw people in New York doing was very different from what I was doing, um -- and some people did think I was kind of strange. I mean, in spite of the fact that other people thought it was good, but you know...

H - Ok. Let me ask you something. This is a kind of make-believe, pretend thing. But let’s say if instead of what happened, you would have done this maybe one night or the first time, and somebody in the audience who was a dance critic, saw that, and let’s say the next morning you saw a spread in the paper indicating that a fantastic new approach to dance had been invented by this Liz person. Would you have liked that?

M - Oh, yeah.

H - And that you would have been famous overnight?

M - Yeah.

H - And people would come to you and say teach us all of this.

M - Yeah.

H - It would have been great, huh?

M - Do you know anybody who this has happened to this way, as fast?

M - Um, (I don’t know of) anybody in particular, but I thought it has happened.

H - It would be interesting to find out, wouldn’t it, if it really can happen this fast. (Have you) read about the lives of other dance innovators, about what they went through as they made changes? I mean, who are the people who made changes in dance? I don’t know.

M - Martha Graham...

H - Martha Graham.

M - Isadora Duncan...

H - Duncan.

M - Um, Twyla Tharp.

H - Ok. Have you read anything about their lives and what they went through as a...

M - No, not really.

H - It might be interesting to find out what they had to do and whether it just happened so suddenly with everybody accepting it instantly. (I believe) that that’s a very fascinating fantasy that you have. (It ) may not really happen that way in life. Is that possible? Could it be it happens a different way which is not so bad? Because some other people have done it. Maybe that other way is different, maybe it’s even better. How do we know? (Could) be you’re missing something because you don’t think it’s very tasty.

M - (Inaudible). I know you’re trying to, you know, get me to think about it differently, but, ugh, I -- just the idea...

H - Excuse me, I’m not trying to get you to think -- I’m inviting you to, and you don’t have to. (You can) stop me at any time.

M - But I think you want me to think about it differently.

H - I’m inviting you to. You don’t have to. If you don’t, I’m not disappointed. It doesn’t bother me. (Question gets cut off).

M - Uh, nah.


M - You know, you’re a therapist. You want -- you want me to do what I -- what you think is best for me. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

H - I would like you to think about what’s best for you and to make those conclusions. I’ll help you do that. But I’m not going to tell you how to live. But I’ll help you think about what might be a better way for you, more satisfying, more fulfilling. That’s my job. I’m just going to help you. But it’s going to be your conclusions and your ideas. (I don’t think) you would accept anybody telling you what to do, really.

M - You know, just going back to what you were saying, it just makes me feel so sad, it makes me feel so hopeless.

H - What makes you feel sad and hopeless?

M - I don’t know, this idea that it won’t happen, you know?

H - It. The “it” we’re talking about today?

M - Yeah, yeah, I mean like, ok, fine, um, you work and it takes time and -- and it probably won’t happen anyway because it only happens to so very few people, and -- oh, God, I mean, I just -- I don’t like to focus it, I don’t like to think about it.

H - You’re really kind of, um, fixed on that idea as the only wonderful thing that could happen to you. It’s the main wonderful thing that could happen to you. Have you ever known anyone who had an idea of what would be the most wonderful way to live and then they get there and then they discovered this is not what I thought it was going to be? Have you ever known anybody like that?

M - I’ve had that experience on little -- in little times when I thought something was going to be great and it turns out to be pretty (awful).

H - Do you know -- have any idea of when you developed this ideal that you have? Was it a few weeks ago or longer than that?

M - Oh, I mean, I think I’ve had it a long time.

H - How long?

M - Well, I’m forty-two, I was a dancer when I was nineteen. At least since then.

H - At least then. Is it possible it was even earlier than then?

M - Well, I wasn’t a dancer before then.

H - No, but you had an idea of maybe how big you wanted something to be.

M - (Well), when I was an actress I -- sure, I dreamed of being a star. You know, when I did children’s theater.

H - Is it possible you dreamed of being a star even earlier than that? As a child?

M - Well, I did like Marilyn Monroe.

H - (Do you think) children, when they have an idea of the future, have the real sense of what it’s going to be like in reality...

M - No. No.

H - No. They just have a kind of a exciting fantasy about it. So they really sometimes have an idea of something being quite wonderful, but they have no idea of what the experience really is like. They might pursue it anyhow. (What I’m) wondering, Liz, is if, considering you’re forty-two now, of whether you have been going in a direction which has essentially been charted by the young child (in you) (inaudible) you as an adult have ever looked at this and really taken stock as to whether this is really the best way for you to live, and more satisfying (in reality). (Inaudible) permit a child to tell you how to live today?

M - No.

H - (Inaudible) your own child to tell you how to live? (Inaudible) I believe that everybody, including me, inside, deep inside, we have something called creative power, ok? I don’t mean being artistic, I mean creative power to invent things. And I think as a child you invented what you thought was the best way to live. (Inaudible) children sometimes make mistakes?

M - Sure.

H - Maybe little ones, maybe medium, maybe big ones. Do you still think you have creative power inside you?

M - Oh, sometimes I feel like I don’t have much.

H - Much. But you might have a little bit then? You must have a little bit.

M - Yeah, yeah, I do, I do.

H - Do you realize that that creative power in you can be used not just for making nice productions or a performance. That can be used to really find a new direction in life. (Guided) by the adult who you are, not by the child who you were.

M - (Inaudible) give up the idea of ever being...

H - No, I wouldn’t give up anything unless I found something that I thought was better. Hold onto it until you are convinced. Unless you’re -- if you’re not convinced that something is better, don’t give it up. I’d never ask you to (inaudible) ok? But is there anything wrong with looking at an alternative and comparing it?

M - What would the alternative be?

H - We have to look at that. Are you interested?

M - Yeah.

H - Ok. I will help you look at it, and you can decide whether something sounds good, whether it makes sense to you...

M - But what -- how do we do that?

H - Well, one way is we can use the material you’ve already given me. You’ve given me a lot of information. You’re really very cooperative, you’ve given me a great deal of information. You gave me a score of memories. We can even use some of these memories, because they go back very far in time, ok? And we can discuss them and see what’s been (the middle) of these memories. What kind of thinking or feeling was going on back then.

M - But how is that going to help me get a new alternative?

H - Because it’s possible that what you were thinking and feeling back then, you’re still thinking and feeling today.

M - Yeah, and...

H - And that means that maybe you’re going down, sometimes, a narrow alley and you’re not seeing alternatives.

M - How do I see the alternatives.

H - With my help, we’ll look at these and we’ll think together of how we can open up this vision a little more, look at different possibilities, different ideas about how to live. You could reject them, you could criticize them, you could think about them, try them out. You can play with them. You can even pretend for a day or two that this idea could work, just to see what it would be like. Might that be kind of fun?

M - Yeah.

H - Or you could even pretend in my office, ok, what it would be like if you acted a certain way.

M - Ok. Time’s up. Better go.

H - Ok.

Distance Training in Claasical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy
Back to Adler Institute Home Page