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Adlerian Theory. Alfred Adler. Theory of personality. Consciousness more important than unconsciousness Ego more important than id. The person is viewed holistically— we are creative, responsible, becoming

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Adlerian Theory

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Adlerian Theory

Alfred Adler

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Theory of personality

  • Consciousness more important than unconsciousness

    • Ego more important than id.

  • The person is viewed holistically— we are creative, responsible, becoming

    • Contrasts with Freud’s more pessimistic view of human nature and portrayal of personality as comprised of parts

  • Social being is emphasized

    • Interpersonal psychology rather than intrapersonal psychology

  • People are not “pushed” by heredity and environment as much as “pulled” by the future…

    • The person’s past and circumstances “frame” and “influence” the individual’s goals

  • Life is a dynamic striving for:

    • Security

    • Self-esteem

    • A place of Significance in the world

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Theory of personality

  • Striving for superiority (Feelings of inferiority)

    • Born helpless and dependent

      • Impetus of personality development – The Style of Life

  • Social Interest

    • Individual’s attitude toward and awareness of

      being a part of the human community

    • Healthy personality related to the degree to which we

      successfully share with others and are concerned with their


      • Happiness and success are largely related to social


    • Three universal life tasks

      • Building friendships

      • Establishing intimacy

      • Contributing to society

    • Birth Order

      • Ordinal position predicts some degree of style of life

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The creative self

  • The concepts involved in the development of the style of life manifest through the CREATIVE SELF

    • Objective facts translated into personally meaningful events

  • The creative self drives the individual to negotiate the BASIC LIFE TASKS

    • Work

    • Opposite sex relationships

    • Being a constructive part of society

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Inferiority and compensation

  • As children search for significance, they draw conclusions about the self>

  • 4 goals of the “discouraged child”





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The discouraged child

  • All of the 4 goals identified by Dreikurs can be portrayed by any child, discouraged or otherwise. It is a matter of degree, frequency, and whether or not the child has an underlying sense of hopefulness, acceptance and significance that determines the health of the child.

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  • Two problems drive psychopathology

    • Exaggerated inferiority feeling

    • Insufficiently developed feeling of


  • Manifest through pathological lifestyles

  • Pampered lifestyle

    • Parental overindulgence

  • Compulsive lifestyle

    • Parental domination

  • Other manifestations

    • Abuse

    • Neglect

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Psychopathology - Basic mistakes






    Thought: This is a short list but a valuable one; many psychological problems that people have can be explained by these 5 “basic mistakes”.

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Goals of Therapy

  • Educate clients about psychological processes

  • Educate clients about “basic mistakes”

  • Release or encourage clients’ social interest

  • Encourage clients to recognize their equality

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Therapeutic Relationship

  • Prototype of social interest

    • Love, faith and hope for the human condition

  • Therapist’s Role

    • Psychoeducator/role-model

    • Cooperative

    • Egalitarian

    • Authentic, caring, and genuine

  • Client

    • Active learner taking social interest within the session

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Adlerian Therapeutic Techniques

  • Analysis

    • Interpretation geared toward increasing the perception of purposive nature of life

  • The Life Style Investigation/Feedback

    • Family constellation

    • Earliest Recollections

  • Catching oneself – Contingency control

  • Acting “As If” – Choosing/reevaluation

  • Push button technique – Precursor to cognitive interventions. Change through choosing

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  • Intrapersonal conflict important, but marked a distinct move toward dealing with interpersonal conflict

  • Moved beyond conflict and into meaning and fulfillment

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Strengths of Adlerian Therapy

  • Brief or time-limited

  • Applicable to community mental health

  • Addresses social equality issues

  • Useful for counseling culturally diverse populations

  • Focus on social context

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  • Not very systemized

    • Which interventions with which patients with which disorders

  • Is inferiority that important

  • Difficult to test the idea of creative self or the primacy of social interest

    • Behavioral explanation is simpler

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Other Ego Psychotherapies

  • More than Adler broke from Freud and focused on the ego as opposed to the Id

    • Object relations

      • Interpersonal focus based on mental representations of self and people (objects).

      • The concept of attachment came for OR theory

      • TR is more open and warm than traditional psychoanalysis

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