“To see with the eyes of another, to hear with the ears of another, to feel with the heart of another. For the time being, this seems to me an admissible definition of what we call social feeling.”
Adlerian Therapy was created by Alfred Adler in 1912 and focuses on social relatedness as both indicative and facilitative of well-being. Individuals are seen as indivisible from the social and relational contexts in which they exist, and a sense of belonging is integral to well-being. Adlerian therapy suggests that there are three universal “life tasks”: creating connections with others, developing intimate relationships with partners, and contributing to society.
Adlerian therapy views dysfunction not as a personal failing or pathology, but rather as something that results from being discouraged. Oftentimes beliefs are formed early in life that serve to limit and disconnect people as they move through the various life tasks. Core to all life tasks is a sense of connection to others, known as “social feeling”, wherein people strive to further not only their own agendas but those of their community and loved ones. Well-being is viewed in the context of the extent to which one feels connected to others.
Adlerian therapy involves a comprehensive exploration of one’s lifestyle, focusing on strengths the client already possesses as well as potential flaws in their beliefs about self or others, known as their “private logic”. Therapists help clients investigate their core beliefs and fears in hopes of challenging those that are limiting and imbuing clients with the courage to address each of the life tasks – work, friendships and social belonging, and intimate relationships. Another intervention often used in Adlerian therapy is the exploration of early recollections, memories retained from early in life, that serve to inform how one still relates to themselves and others. Faulty logic that may have been learned in early experiences can then be challenged to make way for more adaptive ways of thinking and relating.
References: Adler, A. (1928). The individual psychology of Alfred Adler. New York: Harper Perennial.
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