Adlerian Theory


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Alfred Adler

The father of Adlerian Psychology, Alfred Adler, M.D., stressed the need to understand individuals within their social context. In 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. His then-revolutionary observations triggered a life of research dedicated to understanding people that he called Individual Psychology.

Adler’s comprehensive theory of human behavior has resulted in models of practice that have had broad impact on the fields of education, social sciences, family life, psychology, and psychotherapy.

He pioneered ideas and techniques that have become the basis for most contemporary work including:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • Reality Therapy
  • Solution-Focused Therapy
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
  • Existential Therapy
  • Holistic Psychology
  • Family Therapy


Theorists as diverse as Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, Viktor Frankl, Abraham Maslow, Albert Ellis, and Aaron T. Beck credit Adler’s work as an important basis for their own contributions.

Adler was one of the earliest theorists to utilize a short-term, active, focused, and solution-oriented approach to psychotherapy. Adler’s work is fundamental to the professions and practices of school psychology, school counseling, the community mental health movement, and parent education. As a dynamic and vital view of human development, Individual Psychology continues to grow and thrive in a changing world.

Some Tenets of Adler’s Theory

  • Focus on strengths
  • Holistic view of the individual
  • Democratic principals
  • Sense of community
  • Personal freedom and responsibility
  • Social context of behavior
  • Goal oriented movement
  • Purpose and meaning of behavior
  • Individual view of life
  • Encouragement
  • Mutual respect
  • Importance of Contribution


For more, visit: NASAP: the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology

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