Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington

Demonstration of Third 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 - Good morning.

M - Hi.

H - What would you like to talk about today?

M - (clears throat). I guess I should talk about John but I don’t know if that’s going to do any good.

H - Why do you doubt that talking about it would do any good?

M - Because I don’t think he, uh, you know, that he wants to change. I don’t think he wants to, um, make anything better between the two of us. I’m really sick of him. I’m really sick of him.

H - You may be right. We don’t know that, do we, if he wants to change.

M - That’s right. He’s been back for two weeks, and God, it’s a pain in the ass. And I wish he would just go out on -- out on the road again.

H - What is bothering you about him now?

M - Oh, we had another fight last night.

H - About?

M - Well, I come home and I’m really upset about work. And I need someone to talk to, you know, so I come home and he doesn’t -- you know, he barely says hi to me anyway, and he’s watching television, he doesn’t have anything to do, I’m working 14 hours a day, but he’s on vacation basically. He was out fishing over the weekend. So anyway, so he’s home, he’s watching television, he barely notices I’m coming home, and then -- I get dinner ready and then -- ok, fine. Then we sit and have dinner but he barely wants to have dinner with me because he’d rather be on a computer playing games or watching basketball or something. And I start to tell him what’s, you know, what my day was like. And it was really a tough day. So then -- he doesn’t listen to me. He starts telling me what the fuck do you do?

H - Well first, what -- what did you tell him? How bad a day was it?

M - Oh, I’m just having a lot of trouble with Jay, my boss, you know, just -- he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and, you know, we had this meeting and there was a problem and he started almost acting as if it was my fault, and I -- it was like -- yeah, in front of other people he’s trying to make it look like it was my problem. And I had given him a list of all the events for the month, and he was saying, you know, well, we don’t really know everything that’s happening this month. And I was like, yes we do, I gave you the list! I didn’t say that, but -- you know? And it’s just -- it’s like, God, you know? So then I get home and John acts as if, again, it’s my problem, I didn’t confront him and I didn’t tell him what -- you know, what it was that he was doing, and I should have done this and I should have done that. Yeah, like it’s really easy for him to say that.

H - When you told John about the problem, and you also told him how you felt about what happened?

M - Well, it was kind of obvious how I felt.

H - It was obvious?

M - Yeah. I mean, I was really upset.

H - I see. Well, could you fill me in on how you felt? Because I wasn’t there. I couldn’t have seen that. How did you feel?

M - Pissed off. I was pissed off.

H - Pissed off. And you felt he should have known that.

M - Yeah.

H - But you didn’t actually say that.

M - No. Then he pissed me more off.

H - John?

M - John, yeah.

H - By?

M - By acting as if -- by telling me what to do. I don’t need him to tell me what to do. I need him to listen. I need him to understand. I mean, I told him that.

H - Ok. What is it you wanted from John? (Inaudible)

M - I wanted him just to say, God, that must have been hard. I’m sorry. But no. He says, you know what you should have done, da da da da na na na na. Like he knows something about something.

H - So you were kind of disappointed in him.

M - Well, yeah.

H - And that’s -- is that the only time this has happened?

M - No, I think this happened more than this.

H - Happened a lot?

M - Yeah.

H - Has he ever been sympathetic with you and understanding?

M - Back when, you know, he was coming here, he was better at it.

H - He was better at it. But what about earlier in your relationship?

M - I mean, early in the relationship -- he has some good ideas about what to do but he doesn’t listen first and he acts as if he’s the only one that has any ideas.

H - So early in the relationship, he wasn’t doing this.

M - Well, he was doing it, but it didn’t bug me so much.

H - Excuse me. He wasn’t listening and being sympathetic.

M - Right, right, right, right.

H - And then he came to therapy and he learned to do it a little bit?

M - Yeah.

H - Ok, and that was better?

M - And -- that’s it.

H - And then he was not doing it any more. (Have you) told him, yourself, what you would like him to do at the time you want it?

M - Yeah, I told him.

H - Well, what have you said to him. Could you tell me what you’ve said to him?

M - Well, I’ve said look, John, I really need you to listen to me.

H - You’ve said that. The way you’re telling me now? (Maybe) more upset?

M - Yeah, I was more upset.

H - How much more upset (inaudible) were you when you said it, do you think? Were you angry?

M - Yeah.

H - So how would you have actually said it to him?

M - Hmm. I probably screamed (about it).

H - You probably screamed. Well, could you show me what you mean, sort of show me?

M - Well, I probably said, LISTEN TO ME!

H - And he didn’t?

M - No, he said, I AM LISTENING TO YOU!

H - So he screamed back at you. (It wasn’t) so satisfying to you?

M - No.

H - (Might) there be another way for you to have said that to him?

M - I was so angry at him.

H - I understand that you were angry.

M - Yeah, but if he makes -- if he makes me so angry, I can’t do something different at -- right then. I don’t feel like (says softly, sweetly) oh John, please, would you listen to me now?

H - Have you ever done it that way to him?

M – No.

H - The way you’re doing it right now?

M - No.

H - (Do you) think that’s a kind of a foolish way to do it?

M - Yeah, I know it’s foolish.

H - What’s foolish?

M - Well, I was being sarcastic.

H - You were being sarcastic. You were sort of being playful about it, ok? But have you ever tried doing it in a way that wasn’t sarcastic...

M - Like, in the moment?

H - Hmm?

M - Like, right then, when he’s doing it?

H - At the moment. At the moment somebody who’s doing -- is not doing something that you really would like, have you ever tried to coach them?

M - But why is it always me? Why do I have to do it? Why can’t -- why do -- I’m always the one that has to take the responsibility because he won’t do anything! And I’m always the one that has to train him to do it! I don’t think that’s fair.

H - Well, then where is he? He’s the one who’s supposed to be working on it. Where is he? Is he -- is he outside our office right now/

M - Well, he doesn’t -- no, he doesn’t want to come back.

H - He doesn’t want to come back?

M - No, no. I mean, he’s going to be going out on the road anyway, so, you know...

H - So you’re stuck without him correcting his part, right?

M - That’s right. And then it’s up to me, right? That’s what you’re telling me. I’ve got to do it.

H - I didn’t say that. I’m wondering who you think should work on it now.

M - Well, I think he should. I think it’s his turn. I’ve done a lot of work on this.

H - Ok. And you’ve said that to him.

M - No.

H - Oh, you haven’t said that to him. Are you certain that he doesn’t want to work on it?

M - He sure doesn’t act like it.

H - But have you checked it out? Are you certain that he doesn’t want to?

M - No, I’m not certain.

H - Have you lost faith in him?

M - Yeah. That’s a good way of putting it.

H - Ok. Do you think he just doesn’t want to take responsibility...

M - That’s right, no, he doesn’t.

H - ...and he doesn’t want to change?

M - He doesn’t want to change. He wants me to change so that he can say the same. And I’ll take care of everything just like I’ve always done, and he will just stay a little boy.

H - I see. If he could have his wish come true about you, how would he want you to change?

M - He’d want me to always have dinner ready for him, no matter what kind of day I’ve had.

H - Ok.

M - He would want me to listen to him, whatever problems he’s had and just be very understanding, he’d want me to agree with everything he said.

H - Agree with everything, ok. Anything else?

M - Oh, I think that’s enough.

H - That’s enough. And that would make him very happy, you think?

M - Oh, yeah.

H - Be happy as a clam.

M - Yup.

H - And how would you feel if you had done all of these things?

M - Like a piece of shit.

H - Like a piece of shit. So that’s not going to work for you.

M - Nope.

H - Does he know that?

M - He should.

H - Well, have you verified that?

M - No. I mean, I -- you just asked me. I never thought (of it).

H - Well, maybe there are some things here that aren’t really clear (inaudible) between you. Like expectations and the willingness for unwillingness to meet those expectations.

M - Right.

H - Now, he may think that your acting this way would be wonderful. You think it’s terrible, right?

M - Right.

H - You wouldn’t do that.

M - That’s right.

H - Ok. So maybe he needs to know that. But how would you tell him something like that? Scream it at him?

M - He wouldn’t listen.

H - Of course he wouldn’t listen, right?

M - Right.

H - But what would he listen to?

M - But he doesn’t want to hear it.

H - You’re certain of that.

M - Well, wouldn’t...

H - Well have you tested that?

M - No.

H - See, you’re more certain than I am. I don’t know what he will listen to.

M - Well, I wouldn’t want to listen to it if I were him.

H - To somebody screaming.

M - Well, no. If someone told me, I’m not going to have your dinner on the table every night, I don’t really want to listen to you, and I don’t want to agree with everything you said...

H - Yeah?

M - How could -- I mean, I wouldn’t want to know that.

H - That might be disappoint -- I agree, that would be sort of hurtful and disappointing, yeah? But what if the person offered you something better than that? You’re giving me a look. What? What? What?

M - You always do that? Oh, God.

H - What do I do?

M - You -- you...

H - What?

M - You -- you know, you just kind of put something in there.

H - What do I put in?

M - I don’t know, it’s a different way of looking at something.

H - Yeah.

M - Like, what would be better, I don’t know.

H - You don’t know?

M - No.

H - Ok. Then maybe together we can figure out what would be a different way. I don’t know -- see, there are certain things I like to eat and I have a recipe for them. I don’t know if you’d like them. Doesn’t mean they’re better, ok? It means I like them, they’re tasty. So we have to find out what would be better for you, ok?

M - Ok.

H - Let’s just think that there might be something better. All right? See, if John is completely unreasonable and doesn’t want to hear anything and doesn’t want to improve anything and doesn’t want a happy or better life, that’s one situation. If he’s discouraged, if he’s confused, if he’s upset, but actually might like a better life, that’s another situation. Are you convinced that he’s just totally discourage?

M - Yeah, I think he is discouraged. I think he’s -- I think he’s insecure. I think he’s really insecure.

H - What if he were to be encouraged more in the right direction? Is it possible he might respond better to you?

M - Do I have to do the encouraging? Is it always me?

H - Liz, who else is going to do it? Who else has a much influence as you? (Inaudible).

M - Why -- uh, I just don’t think it’s fair. I really don’t.

H - You know, it may not be fair. And we could say damn it, it’s not fair, and yeah, (be pretty hurt). But then we stay in the same place. See, you could sit here and be very angry and very hurt and very miserable for a long time. And you could point to him and say he’s the cause of it. And you’d be at least half right. Maybe more. But you could also grab it yourself very firmly and say let me see what I can do and then let’s see what he does. You see, I don’t know if he is a lost cause. We could find out. We could try to prove that one way or another. One way we could do that is by approaching him differently and giving him a chance to begin responding better to what you want.

M - Ok.

H - So let’s go back to the situation. You’re upset, you’ve had a bad day and you would like him to listen to you, ok? Before you get angry and before you begin thinking he’s not going to listen, ok, is there a way to win him over just a little bit so that he wants to listen to you at that moment?

M - I suppose I could say, you know, look, I really need you to listen. Don’t give me any ideas, don’t tell me what to do, just listen.

H - You mean, just say it like that?

M - Yeah.

H - Do you know how that sounds? It sounds very nice.

M - (laughs) Oh, ok, I thought you were going to tell me it didn’t sound right.

H - Why? Why are you surprised? You see, you can do some things that you may not realize how good they are because you have almost a prejudice against them or because you’re so angry you think I can’t do that. But you’re maybe a half step away from doing something that might appeal to John. I don’t know if it would, but I tell you, I found it appealing. I want to listen to you. I know it’s not all, you know, praise, but I’m willing to listen. But let’s go back one more step. Before you start talking about it, you walk in the door. How do you greet John?

M - He’s sitting watching television. And it’s like, you know, there’s no other person. And so I say, “Hi!”

H - You say hi. Like that?

M - Yeah. Yeah.

H - Ok.

M - And half the time I don’t get a response. It’s like he barely no -- he might kind of go like that.

H - Sort of like that. Has he been drinking?

M - No, no.

H - No. He’s just watching television.

M - Yeah.

H - Is there another way to greet him when you come in the door?

M - Throw myself on him and give him a passionate kiss?

H - That’s pretty big. Something maybe not as strong as that. Sort of in between. A pleasant kind of greeting. But a little closer, a little warmer.

M - No, I could go over and -- give him a kiss on the cheek or something.

H - A kiss on the cheek. Ok. With what kind of feeling, do you think? At the moment?

M - Oh, that’s a hard one.

H - I know it’s hard. That’s why we’re talking about it.

M - Toward him?

H - Toward him, and a feeling that you’re giving him.

M - But I’m upset from work.

H - I know. But you know, we could deal with that pretty soon. I’m asking you just to sort of maybe set a few steps in that direction to sort of lay a little foundation here. We’ll get to that, ok? Are you able to take that feeling and just put it in the background for a minute or two?

M - It’s hard.

H - I know, but is it possible? Where -- I mean, for example, you’re at home and the phone rings, ok? You pick up the phone. Do you say, (yells) I HAD A LOUSY DAY AT WORK, WHAT DO YOU WANT? You don’t do that?

M - (laughs) No.

H - What do you do?

M - I -- um -- ok, I know what you mean.

H - What -- what do I mean? What?

M - I wouldn’t do it to a stranger, I could put it on hold and I could....

H - You could put it on hold and you could say hello, something like that, yeah?

M - Ok.

H - Ok. So maybe if you had a plan that you’re trying to improve the situation, and you know you’re angry and we’re not trying to minimize that or stuff it. We’re just saying ok, let’s get something started so we can deal with that. And let’s say you had a goal of wanting to give him a pleasant feeling. I don’t mean something passionate or loving, ok? But can you genuinely say that maybe you have a little -- sometimes or at that moment that you like to be near him? Could you say that much?

M - Yeah, I could.

H - Ok. That’s -- that would be honest?

M - Yeah.

H - Can you give him the feeling of -- at that moment that you like to be near him and that you like to kiss him on the cheek? Not that you just kiss him on the cheek, but you like to do it?

M - Wow, I never -- ok, I get it.

H - I mean, is that too small?

M - No, no, it’s -- I think it’s -- that sounds good.

H - Ok, so you do that. Now (let’s say) you kiss him on the cheek, and let’s say he keeps watching television. Do you think he’s going to do that?

M - Oh, God, if he did I’d kill him.

H - You’d kill him right away, right? Do you think he wants any affection from you?

M - Yeah.

H - Oh, he does?

M - I think he’d love affection from me.

H - Oh, he would?

M - Yeah. I mean, does he want to give it back? I don’t know.

H - Well, I’m not asking about giving back yet. I’m just asking if he would respond to it.

M - Yeah.

H - Would he go (inaudible).

M - No, he would love it. And then he’d want more.

H - He’d want more. Then would you feel generous to give him two kisses?

M - I don’t know. That’s asking a lot.

H - That’s asking a lot? Ok, one and a half?

M - Uh, ok.

H - What’s a half kiss?

M - I don’t know.

H - No? So if you kiss him on the cheek that’s a one. But if you back up and you blow him one, is it half?

M - Ok.

H - Would you be willing to do that? That’s still too much.

M - No, I could do that.

H - I can negotiate. A quarter?

M - Ok, ok.

H - All right. (In your mind, you’d kiss him).

M - Yeah, yeah.

H - All right?

M - Yeah.

H - Ok. Do you think it’s possible just as an experiment to be relentlessly pleasant to him, even if he’s still watching that television?

M - Oh, God, I don’t know if I could do it. I really don’t.

H - Could you do it for two minutes?

M - Ok, I could do it for two minutes.

H - And then just see what happens. You know, if he doesn’t respond, we’ll talk about it and we’ll talk about what to do next, ok? Make notes. Observe carefully. When you kiss him, does he blink, do his pupils dilate? You know, does he shudder? You know, just see the effect on him, ok?

M - Ok.

H - I mean, you can ask him, John, do you like what I just did? And if he says, “What did you just do?” make a note.

M - Ok.

H - Ok?

M - Ok.

H - Does that sound something that you really would like to do this week?

M - Yeah, yeah.

H - You’re willing to give it a try?

M - Yeah.

H - And then we’ll come back and talk about it some more. But also, I would like to know, when you do this, I’d like to know -- I’d like you to remember how you felt when you actually did it. Don’t anticipate, ok? But then let me know how it felt just to do this.

M - Ok.

H - Ok? See you next week.

M - Ok.

Distance Training in Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy
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