Adlerian Therapy – Notes


Alfred Adler

Instead of  Freud’s sexual repression theory, Adler proposed that neurosis  was caused by a person trying to avoid  those required tasks  in life that  may result in failing.

Adler: We are born with certain building  blocks. What  we do with those blocks is  what determines what we become.

Adler was politically and socially oriented. He believed in the social nature of humans.

Adler was the first to use group methods in a systematic  way.

We create our own view of life, self and other people. From that view we create short and long term goals that guide our behavior and development.

Adler:  self -determination and and consciousness. We are NOT the victims of fate…we have choices.

Adler: We develop our uniqueness early in childhood  and is basically designed to compensate for and overcome inferiority.


  • Understand the whole person in the context of their enviroment
  • Behavior is  basically socially driven…trying to find out fit…our way
  • Phenomenological orientation: how  we subjectively perceive our  world
  • Within a framework of  limitation, we can do whatever we want
  • We must complete 3 life tasks: building friendships (social), establish intimacy (love marriage), and contribute to society (occupational)
  • In moving from an inferior  position to a desired superior position, we find ways to take control of  the forces in our life instead of them controlling us
  • GREAT emphasis on the family…birth order,  age of siblings, parents age, issues,
  • Our style  of  life is basically formed by age 6

Counselors are quite active…creating structure, acceptance, confrontation, involvement, helping set goals, conduct assessments, offer interpretations

Early life is looked at, but it’s not the focus as in analytic. A thorough social history is used.

Early recollections help determine what  is important to a client. “one time I…” instead of memories about what one’s mother did, for example

Miracle type questions are used

Adlerian therapy lends itself to brief therapy. Time limitation convey to clients that  change will occur in a short amount of time.

Adlerian is well-suited for multicultural applications because it tries to understand individuals  within social contexts

May not be best for collectivist cultures because of the emphasis on individuality.



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