Adlerian therapy is based on socio-psychological and goal oriented views of human nature. According to Ferguson (2008), Adler dwells more on personality unity; while Ferguson (2007) explains in detail the forceful nature of human behavior, particularly considers the direction individuals strive to go to be more important than where they come from. In other words, Adler’s psychoanalysis theory depicts individuals both as creators and creations of their own lives (Ferguson, 2007).
Ferguson (2007) determines the main focus of Adlerian theory on how individuals look at the past and interpret earlier events as continuing influence. It further postulates that humans are motivated by social relatedness rather than sexual desires as advocated by Freud’s psychoanalysis.
Adlerian Therapeutic Process
Adlerian therapy goals involve overcoming feelings that individuals harbor of inferiority complex, nurturing social interests, identifying mistaken goals, changing unreliable assumptions, and encouraging clients to become resourceful members of society (Ferguson, 2007). According to Ferguson (2007), Adlerian approach also aims at: establishing and maintaining cordial relationships between the therapist and the client; identifying client’s individual lifestyles and personal goals; interpreting an individual’s early history to encourage insight; and reorienting client perceptions, thoughts and feelings.
Based on Adlerian theoretical concepts, the role of therapists is to provide the following: a working relationship that promotes equality between the therapist and the client; communication based on basic trust and respect; help in exploring new insights and encouragement to test new behaviors; and assistance in achieving insight into self-defeating behaviors that prevent effective formulation of achievable goals (Ferguson, 2007).
Applications of Adlerian psychoanalytic Therapy
Major Techniques, and Areas the Approach is Applicable
Adlerian techniques are not limited to any one stage in the therapeutic process and can assist the therapist in the development and growth of group members. These techniques include: modeling of appropriate social skills; showing desire to demonstrate acceptance; employing active listening skills such as reflection, summarization, and restatement; eliciting early recollections to assist in the identification of problematic patterns and feelings that have been carried from childhood into adulthood; and assessing membership goals and translating them into individual lifestyles (Ferguson, 2007).
Adlerian therapy is mostly applied in school guidance and counseling. The therapy in Adlerian approach offers individualized attention to students and group situations in a classroom. The main focus of counseling in individualized attention enhances the level of awareness among students around issues of self respect and belonging. Adlerian therapy is also necessary in class situations especially in the following areas: one, in classroom management to encourage self discipline, responsibility, and belongingness among students; two, foster training to enhance students self esteem and acceptance; three, the therapy encourages the concept of mutual respect and equality. Thus, this prepares students to relate well in a democratic society; and four, encourages use of a classroom as a significant area for therapeutic for knowing group guidance, understanding group dynamics, group discussions, and others (Ferguson, 2007).
Evaluation of Adlerian Psychoanalytic Approach
Contributions and Limitations of Adler’s Psychoanalytic Theory
Ferguson (2008) describes significant contributions of Adlerian group therapy which encourages growth by offering members concrete ways to handle, specific situations that are problematic. This approach encourages democratic participation, important for encouraging openness and dialogue. In addition, Adlerian approach stresses the value of social interest, family constellation importance, and the importance of goal directed behaviors without being limited to a particular technique (Ferguson, 2007).
Limitation in Adlerian theory occurs in the cause of a detailed interview about a family background. Adlerian therapists must be sensitive to the cultures where disclosing family information is divergent and must respect a client’s right to forego disclosure concerning family matters.