Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

pp 1-5

Date: Latest Version

Adlerian Family Therapy

  • Erin J. SchuylerAffiliated withAdler Institute Email author 
  • , Paul RasmussenAffiliated withAdler Institute


Alfred Adler (1870–1937) was one of the first psychiatrists to use a systemic approach in psychotherapy (Carich and Willingham 1987). Adler pioneered a holistic approach to therapy highlighting the complexities of family dynamics and the nature of goal-oriented behavior. Adler’s work also underscores the importance of community feeling and the necessity of a cooperative attitude among community members. He recognized that individuals are socially embedded organisms each striving to enhance quality of life while overcoming states of burden and unpleasantness (Adler 1935). Adler recognized the importance of early childhood experiences in setting the foundation of the individual’s style of life, including the establishment of personal convictions, beliefs, feelings, and values.

Adler, along with his students and colleagues, established over thirty Child Guidance Clinics throughout the area of Vienna, Austria, during the early decades of the twentieth century (Dreikurs 1958). He ...

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