Adlerian Psychotherapy

Rather than using a model of identifying symptoms, Adlerian therapy takes a holistic and positive approach, assuming that people have an inherent sense of inferiority, which is the source of human striving. In the Adlerian approach, mal-adaptive behaviour is seen to stem from an inability to compensate for inferiority feelings, and can be traced to discouraging or disappointing feelings experienced as a child. The shaping of ones personality and how one relates to other people is influenced by one’s birth order, by parenting styles and by the cultural context in which one has grown up.

The goal of Adlerian therapy is to encourage the client, and to help them feel that changing perceptions and behaviours is possible. The therapist strives to create an atmosphere of mutual respect, as well as offering psychoeducation.

Therapy is carried out through four phases: establishing and maintaining a good client–therapist relationship; uncovering the different aspects of the client’s life, perceptions, and goals; developing interpretations that contribute to client insight; and reorienting the client by providing encouragement in their redirecting their goals and in facing challenges.


Jones-Smith, E. (2011).Theories of Counselling and Psychotherapy: An Integrative Approach. (pp. 77-108). SAGE Publications.