Alice and Javier, both in their early 30’s, have been married for 7 years and have three young children. Javier identifies as a Latino-American. Alice identifies as an East Asian-American, born in Taiwan. Neither his family nor hers was very supportive of marrying a person “not of your own kind.” Consequently, Javier and Alice do not see their parents very often. She feels a real gap without this connection with her family; he maintains that if that’s the way his family wants it, so be it. They have been having a great deal of difficulty as a family for several years. Alice seems to think that Javier is far too strict with the children, demanding full obedience without question. He admits he is a hard taskmaster, but he says that’s the way it was for him in his family.
Alice would like to get a job, yet she stops herself from considering it because Javier becomes extremely upset when she even mentions the issue. His response is: “Why can’t you be satisfied with what you have? It reflects poorly on me if you have to go outside and get work!” Alice has tended to assume the role of keeping peace in the family, almost at any price. This means not doing many of the things she would like to do, lest it lead to an escalation of the conflicts between them. Alice has finally decided that even if it rocks the boat and causes a storm, she cannot continue living as she has. She has asked Javier to go to counseling with her. He has agreed, reluctantly, mostly to understand her better and “do whatever can be done to help her.”
Assume that Alice and Javier come to you for personal therapy and that all you know about them is what they told you above. Answer the following questions on how you might proceed with this couple within an Adlerian frame of reference:
1. As an Adlerian therapist you will want to make sure that your goals and the goals of Alice and of Javier are in alignment. How might you go about this? What if Javier and Alice have different goals? How might the fact that he is a Latino and she of East Asian descent be significant in setting goals?
2. If you had to speculate at this moment, what are Alice’s “basic mistakes”? Javier’s? What specific Adlerian techniques might you be most inclined to employ in working with this couple?