Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler (1870-1937). Contemporary with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.
Part of the founding Viennese-based psychoanalytic movement.

In its simplest sense, being an Adlerian-oriented* therapist means that both conscious and unconscious processes are considered as being part of what makes an individual 'tick'.

* I use the term ‘Adlerian-oriented’ and not simply ‘Alderian’ because I am in the process of obtaining my Adlerian certification (CAC)—typically an undertaking done over a handful of years, and now interrupted by the Covid-19 situation.

Unlike Adler’s colleague Sigmund Freud, however, Alfred Adler posited that our unconscious internal forces are not necessarily deterministic, and that they may be, through psychotherapeutic interventions (i.e. ‘talk therapy’, counselling / psychotherapy) illuminated and modified. Adler developed his own theoretical orientation that he termed Individual Psychology, and which emphasizes the entire individual. It is holistic and person-centered, and at its core is positive and encouraging.

Bringing the above paragraph home to roost so to speak, most of us can say that at times our behaviours and feelings seem to be overly influenced by the behaviours of other people, or by particular situations—we are negatively ‘triggered’, we have ‘knee-jerk’ reactions. Disappointed in ourselves we wonder if we are ever going to change, and are left with unpleasant feeling about ourselves. We become discouraged.

Being in counselling with an Adlerian oriented therapist means that we will look to the present (the conscious self) and to the past (the conscious past as well as the presently unconscious past) for answers, for new ways of understanding. A technique called ‘Early Recollections’ is one particular Adlerian way of illuminating these unconscious processes.

Additional information on Adlerian orientation may be found under the For Therapists page.

“The wounds to our ego are our teachers and must be welcomed. They must be paid attention to, not litigated.” (The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr).