Encouragement in Counseling and Psychotherapy: The Lived Experiences of Expert Adlerian Therapists



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Encouragement is a foundational aspect of Adlerian theory and therapy, yet there has been no formal research to date designed to discover, specifically, how encouragement is being used in counseling sessions with clients. This study was conducted to fill that identified research gap: to serve as both an introductory exploration into Adlerian encouragement and a foundation to build upon in order to more fully understand this integral part of Adlerian therapy. Specifically, this phenomenological qualitative study was based upon the research question: “What are the lived experiences of Adlerian experts using encouragement in counseling sessions with their clients?” The following eight themes emerged from the data in this study: (a) purpose, (b) qualities, (c) learning, (d) feel or sense it, (e) intentionality and awareness, (f) client change, (g) flexibility and creativity, and (h) encouraging theoretical tenets. The expert participants’ responses to the three grand tour research questions overwhelmingly supported the tenets of Adlerian theory, as well as the conceptualizations of Adlerian encouragement found in the literature. Additionally, the participants’ rich descriptions also provided information that may prove relevant to the teaching, learning, and practice of Adlerian encouragement. Findings from this study provide future Adlerian researchers many opportunities to add to the current research base by duplicating or building upon this study in order to explore and discover more about the definition and the uses of Adlerian encouragement.



Adlerian expert, Courage, Discouragement, Encouragement, Social interest