Adlerian therapy focuses on the feelings of self that arise from interactions and conflicts. This sense of self can also be called ones ego. The ego is the central core of personality; it is what makes someone an individual. Adlerian therapy is a therapy of teaching, informing and encouraging the client, in order to help the client fix basic mistakes in their personal logic, and the therapeutic relationship is a collaborative one. His idea of individual psychology is based on the unique motivations of individuals and the importance of each individuals perceived niche in society.
He believes that human are goal directed by nature, and he feels that social conditions and how one sees themselves in this society can cause disturbances in personality and measures need to be taken to avoid this. Therefore, the therapist should attempt to view the world from their clients subjective frame of reference and that how life in reality is not as important as how an individual perceives it to be. Childhood experiences are not necessarily important – what is important is our perception of these experiences, it is not unconscious instincts and our past that determine behaviour but our present perceptions. Adlers distinctive concept is how an individual feel towards and is aware of being part of a human community. He measures mental health by the degree to which one successfully share with others and is concerned for others welfare. He feels that happiness and success are largely related to social “connectedness.”
Adler feels that birth order is important, and that it motivates later behaviour. The oldest child receives more attention and is spoiled and therefore likes to be the centre of attention. If there is only two children, the second will behave as if they are in a race to the first child, and they will act in opposite ways from the first. The middle child often feels squeezed out. The youngest is the baby, they are more pampered, creative, rebellious, revolutionary and avant-garde. An only child does not learn to share and co-operate with other children and must therefore learn to deal with other adults.
Adler thinks that encouragement is the most powerful method of changing a persons beliefs – it can help build self-confidence and stimulate courage. Therefore, discouragement is that basic condition that prevents people from functioning. Clients of Adlerian therapy are encouraged to recognize that they have the power to choose and act differently.
Adler also feels that people who are not functioning properly in society may be experiencing complexes. Someone with an inferiority complex takes normal feelings of incompetence and exaggerates them so that they feel that it is impossible for them to achieve their goals.
In therapy, assessment is done using lifestyle assessment (identifying targets for therapy and identifying major successes and mistakes in a clients life) and early reflections where one talks about childhood experiences. The client is encouraged to think about their private logic, their concepts about themselves and others and the philosophy that their lifestyle is based on. They are encouraged to discover the purposes of behaviour and symptoms and their basic mistakes associated with coping. The client will learn how to correct their faulty assumptions and conclusions about themselves. This is done using a subjective interview technique and by encouraging self-understanding and insight.
Person Centre Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Family Systems Therapy