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Philosophy of Living
Striving For Significance
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Theory of Psychopathology
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
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Child & Family Therapy
Group & Marathon Therapy
Substance Abuse Treatment
Education for Prevention
Biographies & Photos
Alfred Adler Biography
Alfred Adler - Photos
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About Adler, Sicher, & Mueller
Dr. Stein's Blog
of Classical Adlerian Psychology
Alfred Adler (1870-1937) developed the first holistic theory of personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy that was intimately connected to a humanistic philosophy of living. His lectures and books for the general public are characterized by a crystal clear common sense. His clinical books and journal articles reveal an uncommon understanding of mental disorder, a deep insight into the art of healing, and a great inspiration for encouraging optimal human development. Adler's essential principles are as follows.
Unity of the Individual
Thinking, feeling, emotion, and behavior can only be understood as subordinated to the individual's style of life, or consistent pattern of dealing with life. The individual is not internally divided or the battleground of conflicting forces. Each aspect of the personality points in the same direction.
There is one central personality dynamic derived from the growth and forward movement of life itself. It is a future-oriented striving toward a goal of significance, superiority, or success. In mental health, it is a realistic goal of socially useful significance or superiority over general difficulties; in mental disorder, it is an unrealistic goal of exaggerated significance or superiority over others. The early childhood feeling of inferiority, for which one aims to compensate, leads to the creation of a fictional final goal which subjectively seems to promise future security and success. The depth of the inferiority feeling usually determines the height of the goal which then becomes the "final cause" of behavior patterns.
Self-Determination and Uniqueness
The goal may be influenced by hereditary and cultural factors, but it ultimately springs from the creative power of the individual, and is consequently unique. Usually, individuals are not fully aware of their goal. Through the analysis of birth order, repeated coping patterns, and earliest memories, the psychotherapist infers the goal as a working hypothesis.
As an indivisible whole, a system, the human being is also a part of larger wholes or systems--the family, the community, all of humanity, our planet, the cosmos. In these contexts, we meet the three important life tasks: occupation, love and sex, and our relationship with other people--all social challenges. Our way of responding to our first social system, the family constellation, may become the prototype of our world view and attitude toward life.
The Feeling of Community
Each human being has the capacity for learning to live in harmony with society. This is an innate potential for social connectedness which has to be consciously developed. Social interest and feeling imply "social improvement," quite different from conformity, leaving room for social innovation even through cultural resistance or rebellion. The feeling of genuine security is rooted in a deep sense of belonging and embeddedness within the stream of social evolution.
A feeling of human connectedness, and a willingness to develop oneself fully and contribute to the welfare of others, are the main criteria of mental health. When these qualities are underdeveloped, feelings of inferiority may haunt an individual, or an attitude of superiority may antagonize others. Consequently, the unconscious fictional goal will be self-centered and emotionally or materially exploitive of other people. When the feeling of connectedness and the willingness to contribute are stronger, a feeling of equality emerges, and the individual's goal will be self-transcending and beneficial to others.
Adlerian individual psychotherapy, brief therapy, couple therapy, and family therapy follow parallel paths. Clients are encouraged to overcome their feelings of insecurity, develop deeper feelings of connectedness, and to redirect their striving for significance into more socially beneficial directions. Through a respectful Socratic dialogue, they are challenged to correct mistaken assumptions, attitudes, behaviors and feelings about themselves and the world. Constant encouragement stimulates clients to attempt what was previously felt as impossible. The growth of confidence, pride, and gratification leads to a greater desire and ability to cooperate. The objective of therapy is to replace exaggerated self-protection, self-enhancement, and self-indulgence with courageous social contribution.
of Classical Adlerian Psychology
A Socially Responsible Psychology for Today
Most psychologies were designed to relieve distress and promote psychological well-being; Alfred Adler went even further. Stressing our essential interdependence, he believed that psychology could be used to improve the quality of life for everyone, and that true happiness and security are the results of useful contribution to others. Adler's philosophy of living, pedagogy, and psychotherapy form a coherent approach to socially responsible therapeutic improvement. His core belief in social equality provides a solid foundation for democratic living.
Discover a Deeper Understanding of Each Individual
Grasping the uniqueness of each individual cannot be achieved with elaborate symptom descriptions and categorizations, or with simplistic typologies. Adler created a palette of psychological constructs that can yield an artistic, revealing portrait of each individual, as well as a blueprint for healing and growth. He made it possible to relieve and heal hidden inferiority feelings; uncover and dissolve an unconscious, fictional goal; clarify and correct dichotomized thinking; convert private logic to common sense; and overcome chronic discouragement. Most psychologies give some general insight and encouragement; Adler offers unique depth and precision.
Correcting Common Misconceptions About Adlerian Theory and Practice
Although Adler achieved world-wide recognition during his lifetime, after his death in 1937 an accurate influence of his ideas in the United States diminished, largely due to the limited number of his translated clinical works; misrepresentations of his theory, philosophy, and therapeutic style in academic texts; and authors who attempted to simplify and systematize his teachings. Many clinicians have read Adler's popular writings, but few have studied his clinical works. Some have attempted to lift pieces of Adler's theory and fit them into an eclectic framework, which defeats the purpose of his integrated vision. Adler's style of treatment was warm, gentle, and creative, not cool, aggressive, and systematic. The therapist's personality and attitude must be fully congruent with Adler's philosophy. Clinicians, instructors, and authors who deviate really promote their own approach.
Why Do We Use the Term "Classical Adlerian"?
Dilutions and deviations by other authors have misled students into believing that there are a number of equally valid varieties of "Adlerian" approaches. The Classical Adlerian approach is rooted in Adler's original teachings and style of treatment. Our work is also influenced by other early Adlerians who remained faithful to Adler's teachings and therapeutic style: Lydia Sicher, Alexander Mueller, Sophia de Vries, and Anthony Bruck. To retain Adler's rich legacy, we have edited and published a 12-volume set of The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler; offer mentor-oriented distance training in Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy; and have maintained a web site, discussion forum, and mailing list since 1996. Back in the mid-1950's, Alexander Mueller predicted that "Adler will have to be re-discovered, from the roots up, by a future generation." We have accepted this challenge.
Adler & Maslow: Partners in Self-Actualization
Alfred Adler and Abraham Maslow were devoted to optimal human development. Similar to Adler, Maslow articulated the common attributes of self-actualizing individuals. He emphasized the pre-requisites of hard work, dedication to a worthy cause, and overcoming psychological limitations. Some of his ideas drifted into a business community hungry for greater productivity. Although Maslow's vision of self-actualization does not fit most approaches to psychotherapy, it complements Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy. Adler and Maslow inspire us with their rare, optimistic vision of what each of us can become.
Full Range of Therapeutic & Educational Interventions
The Classical Adlerian approach provides a fully integrated range of treatment modes: Individual, Adult, Depth Psychotherapy; Couple Therapy; Child and Family Therapy; Brief Therapy; Substance Abuse Treatment; Career Assessment & Guidance; and Organizational Consulting. Parent and Teacher Education Workshops, taught by trained therapists, provide effective educational strategies for prevention.
Distance Training & Certification
We offer professional training leading to certification, featuring a one-to-one, mentor relationship with weekly study and telephone discussions. In addition to a vigorous study of theory and practice, the program includes a personal study-analysis with a senior Classical Adlerian training analyst and individual case supervision. Fully certified Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapists are currently located in Bellingham, Washington; San Francisco, Berkeley, Redwood City, and Oroville, California; Valley Stream and New York City, New York; Clearfield, Utah; Elizabethtown, and Ottawa, Canada; Feldberg, Germany; and Taipei, Taiwan. In 2012, Certified Psychotherapists will be also available in Switzerland and Italy.
New Online e-Books - Adlerian Classics: Four Volumes by Alfred Adler
Understanding Human Nature, The Science of Living, What Life Should Mean to You,
& Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind.
New Book - "A Clinician's Guide to The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler"
(Also, A Complete Online Version for Subscribers)
A new resource containing summaries of 12 books, 28 lectures, & 172 articles.
Questions and Answers About Classical Adlerian Psychology
Henry Stein Answers 112 Questions From Discussion Forums and E-mails
New Online Video - "Remembrances of Adler, Freud, Jung,
& Other Pioneers in Psychology"
Sophia de Vries discusses her recollections of leading figures in psychology.
New Online Video - "Training of a Classical Adlerian Psychotherapist"
Sophia de Vries (trained by Adler) discusses essential training issues with Henry Stein.
New Online Video - "Birth Order: Sense and Nonsense - An Adlerian View"
The most comprehensive evaluation of Alfred Adler's birth order theory.
* Certification in CADP:
* Certification in CASAT:
Substance Abuse Treatment
* Advanced Certification as
a Training Analyst:
Study & Research
* The Collected Clinical
Works of Alfred Adler
* Online Book:
"A Clinician's Guide to
The Collected Clinical
Works of Alfred Adler"
* Video Demonstration &
Discussion of Classical
Adlerian Brief Therapy"
* Video & Audio Clips of
Adler, Sicher, & Bruck
* Theme Packs (15 Topics)
* Graphics Illustrating
* Transcribed Demonstrations
* Unpublished Articles
* Complete Online Books
by Alfred Adler
Your subscription will help fund the ongoing Classical Adlerian Translation Project, dedicated to publishing the works of Classical Adlerians.