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Adlerian Therapy Research Paper



The Adlerian therapy was named after Alfred Adler who is known to be the founder of this therapy. This therapy holds the belief that no one should suffer from any psychological disorder. It holds that any patient suffering from any psychological disorder should be able to handle it some way and move forward.

“Adlerian Therapy is a growth model which emphasizes an optimistic outlook on human nature and confirms that people have power over their own fate and are not victims to it” (Perkins-Dock,2005, p.2).

As such, the main objective of any therapist under the Adlerian therapy is to make the patient optimistic about whichever situation they are in thus encouraging them to change. This paper is therefore an in-depth analysis of the background, developer concepts, assessment methods and the clinical success of this theory.

Theory background

Dr. Adler was a great psychologist who mainly dealt with the therapy of family relationships. In fact, Adler is one of the people who have had major contributions in the field of psychodynamic therapies. Adler is said to have started his work together with Sigmund Freud though he (Adler) disagreed with the principles of Freud on several occasions.

History has it that Adler once told a kid that had difficulty in swallowing food to spit it on the table instead of keeping it in the mouth for a long time (Bitter and Main, 2011, p.1). Most people could definitely not welcome this comment because it seemed unpleasant or rather critical.

However, for Adler it was one way of dealing with the therapeutic problems among human beings. In this case, the comment by Adler left the child laughing but in the end, the kid would definitely swallow the food instead of spitting it as provoked by Adler. This way, Adler solved the kid’s problem without using much of his energy as the kid’s parents did (Bitter and Main, 2011, p.1).

According to Bitter and Main, Adler began his work of working with families especially during child guidance clinics long ago in the 1930s. Most of clinics were carried out in the public for instance in schools, theatres and community centers just to mention a few (Bitter and Main, 2011, p.1).

Concepts & techniques

The Adlerian therapy revolves around certain beliefs some of which include the following:

The first one is that human beings are social beings and should therefore be given the opportunity to interact and mingle with other human beings. Secondly, human beings are normally motivated by the internal desire of finding a place they belong and can call home.

Third, is the idea of holism, which asserts that the personality of an individual is whole and not divisible. Finally yet importantly is that human beings are naturally active, creative and are able to make their own decisions.

It is from the aforementioned beliefs that Adler concluded that human beings have that individualized approach during their early life especially within the first six years after birth. In addition to this, Adler noted that the social aspects and not sexual urges as stipulated by other psychologists significantly influence the nature of human beings.

In a bid to second this affirmation, Adler also noted that the actions of human beings are normally geared towards the achievement of a better oneself. It is from this Adler realized the idea of inferiority complex.

Under this, Adler argued that human beings normally have the inferiority feeling immediately after birth but as they grow, they tend to fight to overcome the inferiority feelings during their lifetime. According to Adler, the struggle to overcome the inferiority complex is what makes human beings excel in their different endeavors.

Additionally, “Adlerian therapy has been depicted to be diverse, both in practice and in theory. As such, this flexibility is seen by many as one of its greatest strengths” (Abramson, 2007, p.5). In this regard, the Adlerian theory has proved to be very useful when it comes to problems affecting families, couples and other groups in the society.

Assessment methods

Unlike other types of therapies, the Adlerian therapy entails the use of different assessment methods in order to understand the patient in a better way. One of the commonest methods of assessment is the lifestyle assessment, which is deemed to be systematic and holistic involving the family background and information.

The therapist under Adlerian therapy is mostly concerned with the early recollections by the patient as well as their priorities (Mosak and Fasula, 2011, p.3). Once the therapist has obtained as much information from the patient, the therapist is able to interpret and review the information given by the patient and thus be able to help the patient.

It is from the patient’s assessment that the therapist can understand the patient’s condition and help them realize that they are not sick but rather discouraged (Mosak and Fasula, 2011, p.4). At this point, the therapist takes the initiative of encouraging the patient to appreciate themselves hence achieving the goal of the Adlerian therapy.

Best type of problems treated with this approach

Given its theory, Adler therapy is applicable in various aspects of health education and treatment. For instance, the theory is very much applicable in mental health prevention, dram interpretation, children and adolescents’ psychology, and leadership psychology just to mention but a few.

Nevertheless, Adlerian therapy is of great effectiveness when it comes to the treatment of developmental and behavioral problems in young children.

The main reason behind this is the fact that Adlerian therapy normally focuses on the belief that human beings are born with inferiority complex as well as the belief of goal achievement among humans. As such, it is important the children are treated of these personality disorders which could significantly affect their life.

Clinical success

The clinical success of the Adlerian therapy is highly dependent on the relationship of the patient/client and the therapist in this case the counselor. In order to maximize the clinical success, it is important that the client and the therapist have mutual trust and have great respect for each other.

However, before the therapy session begins, both the client and the counselor/therapist should have similar objectives and goals that they ought to achieve. This way, the therapy session becomes easy for both parties and in the end the client is healed or treated while the therapist achieves the goal of the therapy.

In the event that the goals of the patient do not match up to those of the therapist, it is the duty of the therapist to try to educate the client on the appropriate goals of the therapy.

As such, in order to achieve maximum clinical success in Adlerian therapy, most therapists normally require that the clients sign a contract, which contains the details of the counseling session(s). This has for some reasons worked since both the client and the therapist have similar target goals and objectives to be achieved in the end of the therapy.


From the above discussion, it can be clearly concluded that the Adlerian theory is one of the greatest achievement in world of psychology. This is because of the mere fact that the Adlerian theory has several teachings on the social systems and the families.

In other words, the Adlerian theory significantly supports the development of the community members as well as their interest. “Adlerian family therapy can be supported and enhanced by the inclusion of ideas and methodology from other approaches” (Carlson and Robey, 2011, p.1).

In addition to this, among the major issues discussed in the report is the background of the theory whereby it has been noted that the person behind the theory is Dr. Alfred Adler. Adler’s theory referred to as the Adlerian theory has indeed proved to be of significant help especially in the psychological problems affecting children, adolescents, families, couples and groups in the society just to mention a few.

Nevertheless, just like most of other theories, the Adlerian theory has received much criticism from various groups of people. Most of the people have criticized the theory for lack of depth while others claim that it is not real but rather superficial.

On the other hand, some of the critics have argued that the theory does not have the capacity of dealing with the different types of psychological problems that patients bring to the counseling room.

Reference List

Abramson, Z. (2007). Adlerian Family and Couples Therapy. The Journal of Individual Psychology 63(4), 1-7. Retrieved from, Adlerian Family and Couples Therapy.pdf

Bitter, J., and Main, F. (2011). Adlerian Family Therapy: An Introduction. The Journal of Individual Psychology 67(3), 1-7. Retrieved from, Adlerian Family Therapy.pdf

Carlson, J. and Robey, P. (2011). An integrative Adlerian Approach to Family Counseling. The Journal of Individual Psychology 67(3), 1-14. Retrieved from, An integrative Adlerian Approach to Family Counseling.pdf

Mosak, H., and Fasula, A. (2011). Transference in the Light of Adlerian Psychology. The Journal of Individual Psychology 67(4), 1-7. Retrieved from, Transference in the Light of Adlerian Psychology.pdf

Perkins-Dock, R. (2005). The Application of Adlerian Family Therapy with African American Families. The Journal of Individual Psychology 61(3), 1-18. Retrieved from, Adlerian Therapy and African American Families.pdf

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