Adlerian Therapy: An Introduction
Humans are motivated by social interest, by striving toward goals, and by dealing with the tasks of life. Emphasis is on the individuals’ positive capacities to live in society cooperatively. People have the capacity to interpret, influence, and create events. Each person at an early age creates a unique style of life, which tends to remain relatively constant throughout life. Key Concepts
Adlerian therapy stresses the unity of personality, the need to view people from their subjective perspective, and the importance of life goals that give direction to behavior (Ferguson, 1984, p.6). People are motivated by social interest and by finding goals to give life meaning. Other key concepts include striving for significance and superiority, developing a unique lifestyle, and understanding the family constellation. Therapy is a matter of providing encouragement and assisting clients in changing their cognitive perspective. Goals of Therapy
The goal of Adlerian therapy is to challenge the client’s basic premises and life goals, to offer encouragement so individuals can develop socially, and to develop the client’s sense of belonging.
Adlerian therapy focuses on challenging clients’ mistaken notions and faulty assumptions, which helps them to learn to live more fully. Working cooperatively with clients, the Adlerian therapist tries to provide encouragement so that clients can develop socially useful goals (Corey & Corey, 2007, p. 130). Some specific goals include fostering social interest, helping clients overcome feelings of discouragement, changing faulty motivation, changing mistaken assumptions, and helping clients to feel a sense of social equality.
The client/therapist relationship is based on mutual respect and equality (Ferguson, 1984, p.29). Both the therapist and client are active. The focus is on examining the client’s lifestyle, which is expressed in everything that the person does. Therapists often interpret this lifestyle by finding a connection between the past, the present, and the person’s future. Contributions
Adlerian therapy was one of the first approaches to therapy that was humanistic unified, holistic, and goal oriented and that put an emphasis on social and psychological factors (Ferguson, 1984, p. 29). Adlerian concepts have been instrumental to other theoretical systems, including the integration of these concepts into various contemporary therapies. Therapist’s Role
The role of the therapist is to help the client identify faulty goals, and to help the client eliminate self-centeredness, egotism, and isolation, and to develop positive, meaningful interpersonal relationships. Therapeutic Relationship
The emphasis is on joint responsibility, on mutually determining goals, on mutual trust and respect, and on equality. A cooperative relationship is manifested by a therapeutic contract. Focus is on identifying, exploring and disclosing mistaken goals and faulty assumptions within the person’s lifestyle. Adlerian therapy Techniques
Adlerians employ a variety of techniques to encourage individuals to move forward and bring change. Most of the techniques are action-oriented, focusing on facilitating life-style changes while working to help the individual learn to counteract discouragement, enhancing self-efficacy and increasing self-esteem (Corey & Corey, 2007, p. 162). Some of the techniques include: A) Verbal Techniques
1) Giving advice while taking care to discourage dependency
2) Frequent use of encouragement and support
Encouragement is a major aspect of Adlerian therapy. The loss of courage, or discouragement, is understood by Individual Psychology to be the basis of mistaken and dysfunctional behavior. The discouraged person has the same goal as the person with courage: to belong, to be valued, to have the respect of others, etc. However, he...