Establishing a Relationship:
The counsellor establishes an equal partnership with the client with equal respect, rights and responsibilities. The counsellor accepts the client without any conditions and encourages the person to point his or her strengths and abilities. Focus is on the fact that the client can make a change if he or she wishes to. The client must feel safe, especially if he or she is to reveal his or her inner thoughts. The counsellor should be straight with the client and not ‘play games’.
Gather information about the client by observing the way he or she enters the room, sits, speaks and behaves in the counselling sessions. The counsellor will analyse the clients’ lifestyle by examining their birth order and family environment, early memories especially during the first few years of life. Early recollections are used as a diagnostic tool to evaluate clients’ present attitudes and current lifestyle. The counsellor asks directly why the client has come and much can be learned by what he or she tells and does not tell. The counsellor will ask about the client’s place of work, family, friends and relationship with siblings. For example, is the client the eldest who was often bullied by his younger brother? Or was the client a pampered child? The client will also be asked to recall earlier experiences. According to Adler, people remember events that reinforce the beliefs and ideas in their private logic.
Counsellors will help clients gain insight into their present behaviours. Adlerian counsellors use mainly verbal techniques to assess, evaluate and interpret clients’ lifestyle. The counsellor can use confrontation where he challenges clients’ private logics. Asking the “what if” questions encourage clients to explore possibilities. By now the counsellor will have some idea about the client’s view of themselves, their view of the world and their unconscious decisions about how to move through life. These guesses will have to be confirmed by the client: agree or disagree. Agreement on the counsellor’s assessment of the client may be conveyed verbally or non-verbally (by gestures and body language). For example, the client may recognise how private logic has restricted him and may want to change his behaviour. If the client is a person who likes to be better than everyone else, then it is likely that he or she will be lonely and without real friends.
This is the most difficult phase where the counsellor guides and encourages the client to find a way to change. The counsellor will point out the client’s strengths and encourage the client to find a way to move on. Tasks are that achievable are set for the client; especially those that challenge private logic and are hindering the person form changing. To acquire new a new behaviour is an uphill task, and the counsellor should make an effort to congratulate achievement. The counsellor may make reference to earlier counselling sessions where certain issues were discussed that may be helpful to the client at this phase of the counselling process. The counsellor may end the sessions by assigning tasks if appropriate.