Action Research

Topics: Alfred Adler, Psychotherapy, Psychology Pages: 11 (3538 words) Published: June 20, 2013
A Reaction Paper on Seminar on Adlerian Theory
Presented to the Graduate School of Arts, Sciences and Education

I. Introduction
Alfred Adler: Theory and Application
Alfred Adler (1870-1937), world renowned philosopher and psychiatrist, stressed the need to understand individuals within their social context. During the early 1900's, Adler began addressing such crucial and contemporary issues as equality, parent education, the influence of birth order, life style, and the holism of individuals. Adler believed that we all have one basic desire and goal: to belong and to feel significant. Adler developed the first holistic theory of personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy that was intimately connected to a humanistic philosophy of living. His lectures and books for the general public are characterized by a crystal clear common sense. His clinical books and journal articles reveal an uncommon understanding of mental disorders, a deep insight into the art of healing, and a great inspiration for encouraging optimal human development. According to Adler, when we feel encouraged, we feel capable and appreciated and will generally act in a connected and cooperative way. When we are discouraged, we may act in unhealthy ways by competing, withdrawing, or giving up. It is in finding ways of expressing and accepting encouragement, respect, and social interest that help us feel fulfilled and optimistic. Adlerian theory and practice have proven especially productive as applied to the growth and development of children. Adlerians believe that "a misbehaving child is a discouraged child" and that helping children to feel valued, significant, and competent is often the most effective strategy in coping with difficult child behaviors. Adlerian Psychology focuses on people's efforts to compensate for their self-perceived inferiority to others. These feelings of inferiority may derive from one's position in the family constellation, particularly if early experiences of humiliation occurred; a specific physical condition or defect existed; or a general lack of social feeling for others was present. Adlerians are concerned with understanding the unique and private beliefs and strategies (one's life style) that each individual creates in childhood. This cognitive schema and life style serve as the individual's reference for attitudes, behaviors, and one's private view of self, others, and the world. It is when we have looked at our early life experiences, examined the patterns of behavior that repeat themselves in our lives, and the methods by which we go about trying to gain significance and belonging that healing, growth, and change occur.


Alfred Adler went on to study medicine at the University of Vienna. He entered private practice as an ophthalmologist, and later shifted to general medicine. He eventually specialized in neurology and psychiatry, and he had a keen interest in incurable childhood diseases. Adler had a passionate concern for common person and he was outspoken about child-rearing practices, school reforms, and prejudices that resulted in conflict. Adler wrote spoke and wrote in simple, non-technical languages so that the public could understand and apply the principles of his Individual Psychology. (Adler’s (1959) Understanding Human Nature was the first major psychology book to sell hundreds of thousands of copies in the United States. Adler created 32 child guidance clinics in the Vienna public schools and began training teachers, social workers, physicians, and other professional. He pioneered the practice of teaching professional through live demonstrations with parents and children before large audiences. The clinics he founded grew in numbers and in popularity, and he was indefatigable in lecturing and demonstrating his work. In the mid 1920s he began lecturing in the United States. He ignored the warning of his friends to slow down and on May 28, 1937, while taking...
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