Sara Saeedi, a fourth year Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) student in Vancouver, had the opportunity to immerse herself in Adlerian theory and practice this summer at the International Committee of Adlerian Summer Schools and Institutes (ICASSI) in Sibiu, Romania. Saeedi received a scholarship from ICASSI to attend the event held July 14-26. The annual program trains people around the world in Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs’ theory and practice. She was joined by Marina Bluvshtein, Ph.D., Director for the Center for Adlerian Practice and Scholarship at Adler University, who teaches at ICASSI.
Saeedi shared her experience with us.
Why did you want to attend ICASSI?
I wanted to attend ICASSI so I could expand my knowledge of Adlerian theory into practical and technical therapy skills. I was excited to have the opportunity to take such a diverse array of courses taught by acclaimed Adlerians from all around the world—including an intensive Early Recollections class taught by Adler University’s Dr. Bluvshtein.
How was the conference and what did you take away from the experience?
The conference exceeded my expectations on every level. Initially, I was a bit hesitant to participate because I was the only student attending from Vancouver and it was my first ICASSI. However, upon arrival, I was exposed to Adler’s concept of gemeinschaftsgefül, which is a “community feeling” in action. All the students and professors were so welcoming to newcomers, and their passion for Adlerian psychology was very contagious. I learned the technical skills that initially brought me to ICASSI, like using early recollections and art therapy with clients. But more than that, I learned how to embody and spread social interest and the gemeinschaftsgefül that I experienced myself.
The topics and thoughts that really resonated with me from the conference were the more creative modalities of Adlerian therapy. I really enjoyed my Art Therapy class with Uti Landscheidt, who really elaborated, expanded on, and brought Sadie E. Dreikurs’ book Cows Can Be Purple to life. It was a wonderful experience to take such a practical and creative class and think about how to implement the skills I learned in my work with actual clients in individual and group therapy.
How does what you learned align with your studies at Adler University and your future career plans?
As part of our studies, we have taken a few courses in Adlerian Psychotherapy and we were taught about Adler’s notion of gemeinschaftsgefül, which refers to “seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.” This is the core of empathy, and as future clinicians, it will be the foundation of our work with clients. My time at ICASSI, and being surrounded by so many wonderful individuals, allowed me to practice and receive empathy at a level that books and studies cannot teach.
I know that having the opportunity to be a doctorate student and to attend conferences like ICASSI is a privilege that many people are not privy to, so I believe it is my responsibility to help make the psychological knowledge that I have learned more accessible to others. I am really excited to share what I have learned at ICASSI with fellow classmates and clinicians, and to actually implement the techniques in my work with clients.