Goals of Adlerian Therapy

Alfred Adler was the founder of individual psychology, which is a goal oriented, cognitive social psychology interested in individual people’s belief systems and perceptions. This approach also analyses the effects that people’s behaviors have on others. This psychological approach takes interest in the democratic processes that a person has in the school, home and in the work place. Individual psychology is a promoter of social equality which enables individuals to grant each other mutual respect along with dignity, regardless of inherent differences. This is not simply a set of techniques; rather it has a complete and comprehensive philosophy of living. The three main principles of this psychology are:

  1. Individual behavior is goal oriented
  2. Human beings are social fundamentally, and each human has a desire to belong as well as have a pace of value as an equal
  3. Each individual functions with unity of personality and is indivisible.

The Adlerian Theory:

Adlerian theory suggests that people are propelled towards self selected goals and are not pushed by causes. What this means is that they are not determined by their genetics and the environment that surrounds them. The theory states that as individuals move through the different stages of life, they tend to choose the objectives that they want to pursue or have the desire to pursue. Social interactions of people are stressed upon greatly.

Adlerian Therapy: Family and Play Therapy

Adler advises that all therapists must try to understand each client that comes to them on the basis of the reality of the subject, and not merely the objective. It is important to understand a situation from the perspective of the client. This concept in today’s world is known as the “phenomenological approach” to the case. The success of this particular approach formed the basis of the reality therapy which in essence is person-centered. The same principles and approach have been implemented in cases of family counseling, marriage counseling as well as parent counseling.

Adlerian Therapy: Therapeutic Goals

The main focus of the Adlerian therapy is to assist the clients in recognizing and identifying their misconceptions and various other assumptions that they may have about themselves, about others and about life in general. This thus helps them in actively participating in the social world. There are several techniques that are involved in the Adlerian therapy which include establishing a relationship. This particular aspect is not merely encouraged as part of the therapy, but in general as well. One of the main focuses of the Adlerians is to establish a bonding with their clients, and then focusing on their problems.

The second technique is being subjective, that is recognizing patterns and details of the personal stories as well as conducting objective interviews. These interviews generally include life assessment sessions mainly focusing on how the issues initiated, details regarding the precipitating events, the relevant medical and social history, what made the client seek help, how the client usually copes with the problem and the overall assessment of the client’s lifestyle. The third step involves the self realization, and this particular aspect deals with the unconscious attempts and motives that must be made conscious. The last step involves clients attempting to reeducate themselves in order to become more productive.

Adlerian Therapy of Families:

Adlerian brief therapy session conducted with families is magnified when it takes place in the setting of an open forum allowing multiple families to participate and with the help of a selected family in focus. This selected family then plays the part of educating the others. Even though this process is not the ideal choice in case of confidentiality but it enhances the accountability of the Adlerian Therapist as well as the general process of counseling. The process focuses and emphasizes on the interaction within the system itself, which is considered to be better than intra-psychic techniques and experiences. These sessions do not involve details and hence, not much is disclosed. This factor protects the privacy and confidentiality of the family if the session is being conducted in a public place.

Adlerian Play Therapy:

Adlerian Play Therapy might be perceived to be different since it is intended to attract children, but it is important to understand that it works on the same principle2. During these sessions, the therapist generally focuses on and assesses the overall lifestyle of the clients and aims to establish a bond of trust and respect with the client. Following this, a set of goals are set which are provided by the therapist and mutually agreed upon. The therapist then aims to encourage the client in order to assist him/her in achieving them with the help of various suggestions. The therapist aims to provide the client with all the consultation and encouragement that is required to make amends in the lifestyle, which can help the client in achieving goals. This therapy is being practiced on the basis of principles devised by Alfred Adler3.

Adlerian Therapy

Treatment by Adlerian Therapy

Basic Principles of Adlerian Therapy


Adelrian Therapy: Theory and Practice: Author, Jon Carlson PsyD, EdD, Michael Maniacci PsyD and Richard E. Watts, PhD

Adlerian Counseling: A Practitioner’s Approach: By Thomas J Sweeny PhD


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