Adlerian counselling

Adlerian counselling

AlfredAdler one of Freud’s followers developed opposing views and rejected many of Freud’s controversial concepts in favour of social interest. Adler was the first analyst to reject Freud’ ideas

View of Human Nature

Adler’s view of human nature is much more positive than Freud’s. Rather  than being motivated by instinctual drives, Adler thought that humans are primarily motivated by social and interpersonal factors. His theory holds that conscious aspects of behaviour, rather than the unconscious are central to the development of personality.The important concepts ofAdlerian counselling are family constellation and environment, striving for superiority and social interest and life style.

Role of the Counsellors

Adlerian counsellors function primarily as diagnosticians, teachers, and models in the equalitarian relationships they establish with their clients. They try to assess why clients are oriented to a certain way of thinking and behaving. The counsellor makes an assessment by gathering information on the family constellation and a client’s earliest memories. The counsellor then shares interpretations, impressions, opinions, and feelings with the client and concentrates on promoting the therapeutic relationship. The client is encouraged to examine and change a faulty life-style by developing social interests.

Goals of Adlerian counselling

The goals of Adlerian counselling revolve around helping people develop healthy life styles as well as helping them overcome feelings of inferiority.
One of the major goals of Adlerian counselling is to encourage clients to cultivate social interests. Adlerian counsellors stress three goals of the therapeutic process:
 Establishment and maintenance of an egalitarian counselling relationship.
 Interpretation of client’s life style in a way that promotes insight.
 Reorientation and re-education of the client with accompanying behaviour change.

Techniques of Adlerian counselling

To accomplish behavioural change, the counsellor uses specific techniques:


The counsellor challenges clients to consider their own private logic. When clients examine this logic, they often realize they can change it and thus, their behaviour.

Asking the question

The counsellor asks, “What would be different if you were well?”

Counsellors encourage their clients by stating their belief that behaviour change is possible. Encouragement is the key to making productive life-style choices.

Acting “as if”

Clients are instructed to act “as if” they are the persons they want to be – for instance, the ideal persons they see in their dreams.

Task setting

Clients initially set short range, attainable goals and eventually work up to long-term, realistic objectives.

Push Button

Clients are encouraged to realize that they have choices about what stimuli in their lives they pay attention to. The technique is like pushing a button because clients can choose to remember negative or positive experiences.

Strengths of Adlerian Counselling

 The approach fosters an equalitarian atmosphere through the positive techniques that counsellors promote.
 The approach is versatile. Adlerian theorists have developed counselling models for working with children, adolescents, parents, entire families, teacher groups, and other segments of society.

 The approach is useful in the treatment of a variety of DSM-IV disorders including conduct disorders, antisocial disorders, anxiety disorders of childhood and adolescence, some affective disorders, and personality disorders.
 The approach contributes to other helping theories and to the public’s knowledge.
 Adlerian terms such as inferiority complex have also become part of the public’s vocabulary.

Limitations of Adlerian Counselling

 The approach lacks firm, supportive research base. There are relatively few empirical studies that clearly outline the effectiveness of Adlerian counselling.
 The approach is vague in regard to some of its terms and concepts like social interest, fictional finalism, etc…
 The approach may be too optimistic about human nature. Adler, who called his theory “Individual Psychology”, stressed social cooperation and interest.
 It does not consider other important life dimensions like power and unconscious.

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