What is Adlerian Therapy?

What is Adlerian Therapy and who was Adler? Adlerian Therapy is named after its founder, Alfred Adler, and is one of several therapeutic forms of psychotherapy. Adler is widely considered to be a founding father in psychology, along with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. In the early years of his career, Adler was an important member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, but as time went on, he became disenchanted with Freud’s belief that sex was the root of all psychological problems and along with a small band of supporters, he left the group to pursue his own ideas and research.

So What is Adlerian Therapy?

Adlerian psychotherapy takes the view that we are all in control of our own destiny and not subject to the whims of fate. Adler believed that personal problems stemmed from a feeling of inferiority, which is where the term “inferiority complex” is derived from, and unlike other psychotherapists, Adlerian therapists spurn the traditional therapists couch in favor of two chairs facing one another (this is intended to promote equality between the therapist and patient).

Many psychotherapists base their treatment plans for counselling patients on the methods used by Adler, although the process of translating the theories expounded by Adler into a psychotherapeutic treatment process has led to several different approaches amongst Adlerian practitioners. But irrespective of the differences in approach, all Adlerian Therapy is designed to increase the patient’s interest in social interaction, reduce or modify self-destructive patterns of behavior, and help them to solve their problems in a more positive manner.

A closer look to Adlerian Therapy

In the early stages of treatment, an Adlerian therapist will explore a patient’s lifestyle, childhood, and current family dynamics. This might be done indirectly via questionnaires or asking the patient direct questions. Adlerian therapists also make interpretations from dreams in their attempt to unravel the underlying reasons for the patient’s current dilemmas and issues.

Adlerian therapists use several different techniques when treating their patients and the relationship between patient and therapist must be based on absolute trust at all times. The patient and therapist must also have similar goals for the treatment plan and many therapists ask that a patient sign a contract detailing exactly what the ultimate goal of the counselling sessions is.

Adlerian therapists work in one to one or group sessions and this method of psychotherapeutic counselling is flexible enough to accommodate individuals, groups, and families. In both individual and group contexts the patient is encouraged to understand the importance of family relationships and how these affect us across the different generations. Group Adlerian Therapy sessions often concentrate on developing a cohesive structure to the group in order to give the patients a sense of belonging and community that they are possibly lacking in their current dysfunctional lifestyle.

During Adlerian Therapy sessions, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the early recollections of childhood and the order in which you were born. Partly because of this, although Adlerian Therapy is very flexible, many psychotherapists believe that it is rather limited and superficial in nature and that it lacks true depth as a form of psychotherapeutic counselling.

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