Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington

A Questionnaire to Save Interview Time
in Adlerian Brief Therapy

This list of questions, originally developed by Anthony Bruck, was frequently offered to clients at the beginning of Adlerian brief therapy. Clients were asked to write as much as they wanted about each of these questions. Bruck also pioneered "counseling by mail," enclosing this questionnaire in his first letter. With this information, an experienced Adlerian psychotherapist or counselor can often gain a useful early impression of the client's style of life. The information also promotes very efficient Classical Adlerian case consultation. These questions should not be used as a formal intake procedure in the face-to-face therapeutic encounter, but may suggest opportunities for "adding more depth" to the client's spontaneous unfolding of a problem.

  1. What are your most outstanding difficulties at present? Since when have you had them? What else was happening when they first arose?
  2. What illnesses, organ inferiorities, or inferiorities of appearance did you have as a child? How did you feel about them?
  3. What was the social and economic position of your family in your childhood?
  4. Make a list of your brothers and sisters and state, next to each name, the number of years by which they are older or younger than you. (Include all that were alive during the first six years of your life, even if they died afterwards.) Give examples of your relationship with each sibling.
  5. What did you feel about being a boy (a girl)? What made you feel so? Have you since changed your opinion?
  6. What was the behavior of your father and mother towards you? And that of other adults during your childhood? What was your behavior towards them? State examples and incidents.
  7. What were your outstanding personality traits when you were a child? Give examples that illustrate these traits.
  8. What are the things you usually remember of your early childhood? If you do not have such usual recollections, state those that have come into your mind when reading this question. Please number your recollections in the order of their appearance.
  9. Relate some dreams that you have had and indicate when you have had them. Give special attention to dreams that you have had repeatedly. Try to relate your dreams to the circumstances that prevailed in your life at the time of each dream.
  10. What are you most interested in?
  11. Of what are you most afraid? Why?
  12. Write about your friends, past and present. Describe your enemies, if you have any.
  13. Why did you choose the profession you have or are studying for? Is there another one you would have preferred? Which one? Why?
  14. How do you feel about the other sex in general and about some of its members in particular? Describe your premarital sex life and, if married, your marital life.
  15. What would you do if you did not have the difficulties mentioned under 1.

General Instructions for answering the questionnaire:

  • When making a statement referring to the past, always state your age at the time to which the statement refers.
  • In answering questions referring to your childhood, try to remember experiences, feelings and thoughts you had before the age of five. Report experiences, feelings and thoughts also after that age, including some of your adolescence.
  • Whenever you remember something that does not fit into what you are just describing, jot it down, in a few words, so as to be sure to relate it whenever you get around to it.

(This questionnaire is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without the expressed consent of Dr. Stein. A more comprehensive twelve-page questionnaire, the "Adlerian Client Questionnaire," is now used frequently in Classical Adlerian practice.)

For additional information, contact:

Henry T. Stein, Ph.D.
Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco & Northwestern Washington
(360) 647-5670

E-mail: HTStein@att.net
Web Site: http://www.Adlerian.us


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