What is Adlerian therapy?
Adlerian therapy tends to focus on exploring both faulty assumptions and mistaken goals and then helping clients to relearn, be provided with more information, and to be guided and encouraged (when needed) to move forward with new and more constructive goals.
It was developed by Alfred Adler (1870 – 1937) who believed that it was imperative to understand the entire person in order to provide the best therapy. This included: birth order, lifestyle, your relationship with your parents, your personality, etc. A one-time student of Freud, he was very interested on individual’s feelings of inferiority and how people felt they fit into society as a whole.
How does Adlerian therapy work?
Adlerian therapists tend to stress the unity of personality, with a main focus on people being able to be purposeful in their behavior. They believe that events and experiences in your early life leads you to choose behaviours and coping mechanisms that affect you well into adulthood. If you understand why you may behave the way you do, then you will gain self confidence, empowering you to move forward and change that negative or destructive behaviour. Typically Adlerian therapists do not see clients as generally sick and needing to be cured, but that they need to be provided with more information, and need to be shown and offered encouragement.
There are 4 stages of Adlerian therapy:
Engagement speaks to the relationship between you and your therapist and the commitment to work on the presenting issue/s.
After listening to you talk about your history, your family dynamics, memories, and feelings, your therapist will look for patterns and circumstances that may have caused your behaviour patterns and coping mechanisms.
During therapy you will gain insight about yourself and learn healthy and effective new ways of thinking and coping.
Then you can put into practice what you’ve learned and live your life with your newfound personal insight.
When is Adlerian therapy used?
Adlerian therapy can be used for individuals, couples, and families. It can be a more time-consuming style of therapy as there is much to unpack and this can take longer than other treatment methods. The goal of this therapy is better self-awareness and knowledge, as well as learning new and better ways to cope as a result of this understanding.
Adlerian therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies (such as play therapy or art therapy) to help people who are experiencing a wide variety of events including:
- Anxiety disorders such as OCD, or generalized anxiety disorder
- Self esteem issues
- Mental health disorders
- Developmental disorders
- Eating disorders
This type of therapy may be used to treat other conditions and concerns in addition to those listed above. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.