Strengths and Limitations of Adlerian Theory

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  • 0:04 Adlerian Theory Summary
  • 1:21 Adlerian Therapy's Strengths
  • 2:50 Adlerian Therapy Limitations
  • 3:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Seeing people as individuals and members of a greater community and society in general makes Adlerian therapy an interesting approach to psychotherapy. This lesson reviews the strengths and weaknesses of therapy based on Adler's theory.

Adlerian Theory Summary

Alfred Adler is the namesake and creator of the Adlerian approach to psychotherapy, an approach that is both holistic and goal-oriented. The main goal of Adlerian therapy is to help people feel comfortable and confident in their own communities and society in general.

To this end, Adlerian therapy focuses on a person's feelings of anxiety and inferiority to examine that person's sense of belonging. While the therapy is centered on the person, the idea that each individual is part of a collective whole and humans are all interconnected is also important.

There are four basic stages to all Adlerian therapies:

  1. Engagement- the patient and the therapist cultivate a trusting relationship
  2. Assessment of personal history - focuses on early childhood memories and family history
  3. Insight- the therapist offers a new perspective on issues brought to therapy by the patient
  4. Reorientation - with an emphasis on continued growth, the patient is able to return to general society and community life using new insight to actively alter past responses and perspectives

As with any therapy, there are strengths and weaknesses associated with the Adlerian therapy style. This lesson reviews these strengths and weakness. So, let's get into these, so you can have a firmer grasp of what they entail.

Adlerian Therapy's Strengths

The greatest strength of the Adlerian therapy style is its focus on a holistic return to community. By keeping healthy reorientation into society as a goal for personal and individual improvement, Adlerian theory allows for a realistic approach to therapy. This is not performed in a vacuum, assuming the person will only deal with themselves after therapy. It maintains a strong focus on how the individuals receiving therapy can alter their perceptions and grow their personal strengths to better fit into their own communities. It is this desire to support the individual person's innate sense of belonging that is its main strength.

Another important strength of this therapy is its use of encouragement and empowerment. The person undergoing the therapy is empowered through positive encouragement to become a successful member of his or her community. The idea is that in changing the way you look at and responds to the community, you can become a part of that same community and fulfill a deep-seated need to belong.

Adlerian therapy is flexible. It highlights feelings of anxiety and inferiority which can be explored through many different styles of therapy, such as play, art, and talk therapies. It can also be used in group and couple's therapy scenarios. This, in turn, makes Adlerian therapy appropriate for any age group.

Its goals are sustainable in that they encourage insight and personal growth even after therapy has finished. This promotes confidence and self-worth, which leads a person to interact naturally in society and build interactive, healthy relationships within his or her own community.

Adlerian Therapy Limitations

While it is definitely a strong and even effective form of therapy for a lot of people, Adlerian therapy does have its limitations. One such limitation is its emphasis on early childhood memories and events. If a person is resistant to exploring these memories, Adlerian therapy cannot be successful.

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