Research director publishes first Adlerian therapy book in the American Psychological Association’s history

Richard Watts, director of Sam Houston State University’s Center for Research and Doctoral Studies in Counselor Education, was identified in a recent study as one of the 20 most prolific authors in counselor education.

Researchers Brandon Hunt from Penn State University and Amy Milson from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro presented their findings in October at the 2005 national conference of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision.

Watts, who received his bachelor’s in music education at SHSU in 1980, worked as a minister for 11 years before getting his doctorate in counseling. He taught at Kent State in Ohio, before returning to Texas.

He was at Baylor for four years in the Educational Psychology Department and came to SHSU last summer.

Watts has written more than 70 journal articles and book chapters and published five books. A sixth is on the way, but the latest, ‘Adlerian Therapy,’ explores one of Watts’ greatest interests. It is the first Adlerian-oriented book published by the American Psychological Association.

“Adler was a colleague of Freud’s,” Watts said. “He used a lot of Freudian language, even though he had a significant break from Freud in 1911. World War I was really influential on both Adler and Freud, in different ways.

“Freud saw the horror of WWI and developed the concept of Thanatos, or the death instinct,” said Watts. “He saw WWI as indicative of humankind having an innate desire to destroy itself.

“Adler saw the ravages of WWI and said, ‘no, it’s not that we’re trying to kill ourselves, rather, we have a diminished level of social interest,'” said Watts. “He coined the phrase ‘Gemeinschaftsgefuhl,’ which is translated as ‘social interest’ or ‘community feeling.’

“What Adler was saying is that we don’t have a sufficient level of feeling of community for our fellow human beings,” Watts said. “The ideas of community and caring for our neighbor both in an immediate sense and in more of a global sense is very contemporary.

“Adlerian therapists place strong emphasis on developing and maintaining an encouragement-focused therapeutic alliance and tailoring therapy according to each client’s unique needs, circumstances and expectations,” he said.

Sometimes a client is very spiritual and might like to include this aspect of his life in therapy. Watts feels this is an important new aspect in counseling.

“I read and write about the application of the interface between the client’s spirituality and how to use a client’s spirituality to help them,” said Watts. “This makes sense because if you take a person who’s very devout, and you don’t include that aspect of the person in their counseling and therapy process, then you could very well be leaving out of the equation what could be a strong resource for them. Furthermore, you could be leaving a family member out, namely God.”

If the client is not religious, Watts said, “you don’t bring it up. You don’t impose your values on a client. If it’s something the client wants to include in the counseling process, I say by all means include it–from the client’s understanding, from the client’s perspective of religion and spirituality. It’s not an imposition of the counselor’s values onto the client.”

Though he is proud of his accomplishments so far, Watts would like to focus on serving as a mentor for students and less-experienced colleagues.

He explained that mentoring is a relationship that matures and changes over time.

“You start off more in a teaching function and then you move to more of a facilitating function, until you are more like colleagues. You are serving as more of a resource, walking along beside them,” he said.

Watts serves in various editorial board capacities for professional journals-including the Journal of Constructivist Psychology, the Journal of Counseling and Development, The Family Journal and is a member of the board of directors of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs.

In addition, he is currently president of the Texas Association for Counselor Education and Supervision.

Watts said he has enjoyed his return to Texas and to the SHSU campus.

“I really enjoy being back at Sam,” Watts said. “The people I’ve met, faculty and students, have been very gracious and encouraging. The landscape of the campus has changed significantly from when I was a student in the late 1970s.”

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