Dec. 5, Zoom: Louise Ferry; Identifying and Dealing with Anxious Children

Anxiety is noted to be a prominent mental health issue in children and is exhibited differently than with adults. 

The acting-out behaviors that we see in children are often representative of anxiety rather than opposition or defiance.  

We will address how anxiety is displayed in children and the Adlerian concepts and ideas that can be of benefit both in the family and in the school setting.

Jim Bitter opens 2021 Network meetings

How to Help Clients Change Mistaken Beliefs

At the heart of Adlerian Adaptive Reorientation Processes is the belief that all people want to feel good, and if they cannot feel good, they at least want to feel better (Rasmussen, 2010). So, what accounts for people feeling badly (e.g., distressed, angry, anxious, depressed, or withdrawn)? 

The answer, in part, is what they think about themselves and others in relation to the everyday challenges and burdens that we all face. 

So, the love of my life, breaks up with me, and I feel . . . what? It all depends on the ideas I have about myself and others. If I feel happy, I may be saying to myself, “Oh, thank goodness: I was wanting to break up with her anyway, and she saved me from being the bad guy–plus now I can get a lot of people to feel sorry for me.”  This is unlikely, of course, because she was the “love of my life.” 

I could feel sad, because I have lost someone important to me, and my dream is not going to work out.  But these things happen to people: Some good people may not be able to find a way to be together. I wish it had gone differently, but it didn’t. 

What is going on if I feel depressed, defeated, like life is no longer worth living? Between the event — the breakup, and the feeling — depression, there are any number of mistaken notions, private logic, or irrational ideas, such as:

  • I am unlovable.
  • I should always have things work out the way I want them to work out.
  • I should always be loved unconditionally no matter what I do.
  • I should always have a caring partner who is devoted to me.
  • I should always get my way.

And let’s say that I have other mistaken notions that have nothing to do with Judy (because in general, I am really unhappy), what might those ideas be?

  • I should always be in control.
  • I should always be taken care of because I can’t take care of myself.
  • I should always have everyone’s approval.
  • I should always be in charge.
  • Life should never be hard for me.
  • Others should do what I think is right–and after all, what I think is right IS RIGHT!
  • I should be perfect: A+ is passing; A- is the start of creeping failure.

It is easy to see how these ideas can get in a person’s way, how they can lead to compelling negative emotions that push the individual to act in ineffective and sometimes dysfunctional ways. The question is, “What do I, as a counselor, do to help someone assess, confront, and change their mistaken ideas?” This is a practical application workshop that looks at interventions that can be used to help people adapt and to redirect people toward what Adler called “the common sense.”


     James Robert (Jim) Bitter, Ed. D., is professor of counseling and human services at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. He is a nationally certified counselor, an Adlerian family counselor, and a former officer of the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology. He also is a former editor of the Journal of Individual Psychology and a Diplomate in Adlerian Psychology. He is a reviewer for the American Journal of Family Therapy and has served in the past in a similar role for The Family Journal and the Journal of Counseling & Development. He received his doctorate in counselor education from Idaho State University in Pocatello in 1975.

     Jim has received awards for outstanding teaching in the College of Human Development and Community Service at California State University, Fullerton, and for outstanding scholarship in the Clemmer College of Education at East Tennessee State University. In 2015, Jim won the American Counseling Association’s Don Dinkmeyer Social Interest Award. He has taught in graduate counseling programs in three universities and has authored or coauthored four books as well as more than 60 articles and chapters.

      Jim is the featured expert on Adlerian family therapy in the Allyn & Bacon/ series Family Therapy With the Experts, and he has offered workshops in Canada, England, Greece, Ireland, South Korea, New Zealand, and Peru as well as throughout the United States. He was introduced to Adlerian family counseling by Manford A. Sonstegard, with whom he worked for more than 30 years.

     Jim studied and worked for 10 years with one of the pioneers of family therapy, Virginia Satir. He was a trainer in her Process communities for three of those years and published an article and a number of chapters with her before her death in 1989. He is a past president of AVANTA, Satir’s training network.

     Jim currently sees couples and families together with graduate students at East Tennessee State University’s community counseling clinic. He continues to develop Adlerian counseling models for individuals, groups, couples, and families. His focus on a fully present relationship in all forms of counseling is an integration of Adlerian counseling and the work of Virginia Satir, Erv and Miriam Polster, and Michael White, all of whom have trained Jim in the past.

     Jim has been married to Lynn Williams for 38 years; they have two grown daughters, Alison and Nora Williams. In his leisure time, Jim likes to travel, collect stamps, play basketball, and read.