Adlerian Theory



AlfredAdler was inspired by the Freudian psychoanalysis to develop thetheory of psychotherapy. Adler’s theory is based on the concept ofmaladjustment, which holds that people have mistaken opinions ofthemselves as well as the opinion of the world (Hunter, 2015).Consequently, people who engage in abnormal behavior do so withintentions of protecting their opinions, especially when they arethreatened with insecurity or failure. Adler’s theory is applied inaddressing different psychological challenges. The core goal ofAdlerian therapy is to establish a sustainable relationship betweenthe community and the client, which helps in addressing the client’sunrealistic and unhealthy thoughts and replacing their self-defeatingbehaviors (Hersen &amp Sledge, 2002).

Thecore goal of Adlerian therapy is achieved using four majorstrategies. The first strategy is known as encouragement, whichinvolves building a rapport between the client and the therapist(Hunter, 2015). Encouragement is the most critical strategy used tostimulate courage, self-confidence, and give clients the power to actdifferently. The relationship established between the clients thetherapist gives the counselor the opportunity to explore differentpsychological dynamics that operate within the client’s assessment.This gives the therapist an opportunity to motivate the developmentof courage and self-understanding, which is then converted into apurpose. The strategy of encouragement culminates in a completeredemption of the client and the development of the ability to makethe right choices.

Thesecond technique involves showing the clients the negative side oftheir perceptions and behavior. This technique is commonly referredto as “spitting in the patient’s soup” because it requires thetherapists to make some behaviors appear less attractive to thepatient (Hunter, 2015). Counselors who select to use this techniqueaim at making certain behaviors repulsive, which in turn reduce theirchances of recurring. This technique is achieved by questioning theclient with the objective of identifying the existence of certainpsychological challenges through the use of questions that aredeliberately constructed by the counselor. The therapist presumesthat the root of the psychological problem is to avoid the challengethat is connected by the patient if the client managed to establishthe link between the question and the answer (Hunter, 2015). Thetherapist then assigns some homework in order to help the client tocontinue addressing the psychological challenges outside thepsychotherapy sessions.

Theother two techniques are less common and are often used jointly withthe major techniques. The interpretation technique involves theexpression of insights that relate to the goals of the client. Theinterpretation technique is mainly used when addressing psychologicalchallenges that relate to social interests and family constellation(Prieto, 2015). A therapist using this technique aims at helping theclient interpret social relationships in a positive way and changetheir awareness as well as the attitude of being part of thecommunity. The last strategy is known as immediacy and involves thecommunication of the therapist’s experience to the client. Thetherapists using this technique utilize their personal experience tomotivate their clients by showing them that they have the capacity toovercome their present psychological challenges.

Inconclusion, Adlerian therapists aim at overcoming unhealthy thoughtshelp by the client, which is achieved by establishing sustainablerelationships between community and clients. Most importantly,Adlerian therapists achieve the therapeutic goals by encouragingtheir clients and empowering them to solve their psychologicalchallenges on their own, even at the end of the therapy sessions.


Hersen,M. &amp Sledge, W. (2002). Encyclopediaof psychotherapy.San Diego: Academic Press.

Hunter,C. (2015). Adlerian therapy from a Christian perspective.Christiehunter.Retrieved September 4, 2014, from

Prieto,A. (2015). Adlerian theory. SlideShare.Retrieved September 4, 2015, from