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Adlerian Therapy

Alfred Adler, a world renowned philosopher and psychologist, understood the

need to perceive individuals within their own social context; because of this, Adler
founded the Society of Individual Psychology. Today, his concepts and ideas are
referred to as Adlerian psychology- the psychodynamic field of psychology.
Adler began by focusing on the worlds philosophical attention on relatively new
ideas in the early twentieth century. He believed that it was necessary to become
familiar with a clients context by exploration of personal factors, like lifestyles, birth
order, and parental education. Adler concluded that all individuals wish to belong
and feel significant. Because of this, Adler was a pioneer in the area of holistic
theory (the theory that the parts of any whole cannot exist and cannot be
understood except in their relation to the whole).
Through his perspective of holistic therapy, he believed that a person would be
more responsive and cooperative when that person is encouraged and harbors the
feelings of adequacy and respect; in other words, when ways of expression are for
the positive influences of encouragement, that persons feelings will increase in
fulfillment and optimism. On the other hand, when a person is discouraged or
defeated, that person will feel discouraged and will most likely display
disadvantageous behaviors that display competition, defeat, and/or withdrawal.
Adlers different approach to therapy assumes that humans are socially motivated
and that their behavior is directed towards a goal and is purposeful. Adler trusted
that feelings often motivate people to strive for success, or can be the epitome of
their despair. Alfred Adler stressed the conscious over the unconscious, and his
therapy affirms biological and environmental limits to choice, but was not
deterministic (the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws).
Adlerian therapy recognizes the seriousness of internal factors, like perception of
reality, values, beliefs, and goals. This therapy investigates a clients lifestyle, and
the way he reacts with society.
How one interacts with the world based on an awareness of the human community,
are social interest and community feeling- both emphasized by Adler. To him, a
mental health sign is a social interest, so the more a client would feel connected to
others, and partook in a shared, wholesome activity, his sense of inadequacy would
By identifying misperceptions and misdirected goals of the client, a therapist can
then reeducate his client with the anticipation that the clients feelings of belonging
and level of social interest will increase. An Adlerian therapist encourages selfawareness (conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and
desires) challenges adverse perceptions, and emboldens his client to act on his own
to manage life tasks and take part in communal activities.


Extra Credit for Psychology

Natalie Robison

Adlerian Therapy