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Vignette Analysis I - Counseling Theories and Strategies

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Vignette Analysis I

Counseling Theories and Strategies

PSY 86502

Vignette Analysis I

Therapy can be a remarkable tool to help individuals live a productive fulfilling life. There are many purposes and resolutions that therapy can address. Depression, grief, anxiety are but a small handful of mental health concerns where suitable options can be given and discovered between the therapist and client. Stresses within the family unit, a new career, challenging life events, can all lead to struggling and stressful issues that if not addressed by individuals can lead to further life challenges. Several different theories, thoughts and ideas can be employed by a therapist. This paper will focus on using four different theories to assist Juan and Maria, a Hispanic-American couple, who have 3 sons (Cal Southern University, 2015). They are seeking therapy to deal with their middle child, who they describe as having a behavior problem. The four different therapies are Psychoanalytic, Adlerian, Existential and Person-Centered.

Psychoanalytic Oriented Therapist

A Psychoanalytic oriented therapist would focus on the patient’s unconscious as the belief is that the unconscious influences human behavior. (Corey, 2013, Chapter 4). Both Juan and Maria, the parents, of the child who in their opinion, is exhibiting a behavior problem. As a therapist using the psychoanalytic oriented strategy, various ego-defense mechanisms will be observed and noted. “Ego-defense mechanisms help the individual cope with anxiety and prevent the ego from being overwhelmed” (Corey, 2013, p. 66). Freud taught that the role of the unconscious was a psychodynamic factor that influences human behavior. Both parents are disclosing different behaviors and defenses regarding their views of how their son should behave and how their son should be disciplined. Freud has a fundamental belief that human behavior is driven by or motivated by either gaining pleasure or avoiding pain.

Ego defenses are normal behaviors that enable an individual to avoid facing reality. Defense mechanisms have two common traits: they can deny or distort reality or they can operate on an unconscious level (Corey, 2013). Juan, the father, is showing the defense mechanism of displacement. Displacement is “directing energy toward another object or person when the original object or person is inaccessible” (Corey, 2013, p. 67). Juan’s own father was abusive, militant and disciplined with a heavy hand. And now Juan is using the threatening behavior of his father onto his son. His son is certainly less of a threat than Juan’s father.

Maria, the mother on the other hand, is showing a defense mechanism called rationalization. Maria, being the middle child herself, is trying to rationalize the fact that her son is the middle child and feels like her heart is breaking because she knows what her son is feeling. Maria is trying to use a logical reason why her son is behaving in an inappropriate manner (Cal Southern University, 2015, p. 67).

Relevant Stages of Development

Freud listed several stages of development where we could review this couple’s stress. First, their son is 7 years old. According to Freud, the stage their son is in is called the Latency stage (Corey, 2013, p. 71). The Latency stage is between the ages of 6 to 12. This is a time where the child would normally be interested in playmates, school, sports and/or new activities. It is also a time of socialization as the child would normally form new relationships. However, the mothers own admission is that her son is struggling to grow up. The fact that Maria is a middle child herself does explain why she feels the need to protect her son.

Adlerian Therapist

The Adlerian therapist attempts to form a relationship with his patients that is based on mutual respect. The goal is to understand the family dynamics, especially the different relationships among siblings (Corey, 2013, p. 109). Birth order is very important to an Adlerian therapist. In listening to the parents, Jaun and Maria, it would be appropriate to have both parents fill out a questionnaire on their family constellation. Trying to understand how each parent views their early social world could have bridged the understanding of each parent. Maria, a middle child herself, would sympathize with her son as he is also the middle child. Juan, however, is showing similar character traits as his father, which is not conducive to Maria’s opinion.

In reviewing and discussing more about the family origins of the family, and the parents family, could help the with each patients psychological dynamics. Performing an objective interview can easily help the Adlerian therapist understand how these problem came to be, any precipitating events, medical conditions, the reason the parents sought therapy, coping skills or mechanisms and finally a lifestyle assessment (Corey, 2013, p. 115).


Adler believed that humans exhibited certain inferiority and superiority complexes. The belief is that our inferior or superior feelings as an adult stem from our feelings at children.

Adler believed that all emotions find expression in the body. Juan, being bullied and belittled as a child, must have felt inferior to his authoritarian father. Now the roles are reversed for Juan. He has chosen to behave like his father and has expressed his son’s inferior complexes. The son, on the other hand, has not exhibited normal behavior and an Adlerian Therapist will seek to help the family overcome these feeling of inferiority and strive and aspire for greater things (Durbin, 2004).

Existential Therapist

As an existential therapist, the goal is to understand the subjective world of the client and try to help the client find a new level of understanding and development. An existential therapist will ask questions to help the client become fully aware of their feelings and of course, their actions. This will help the client confront not only their anxiety but also to develop a better relationship with themselves and their world ("Counseling 101: fundamentals of counseling/ social science courses," 2015).

As an existential therapist, there are several propositions that a therapist can take. In this



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