Adlerian Group Therapy

According to Glanz and Hayes (1967) Group Counseling and group terapy are almost contradictory concepts to he individual not familiar with the detailed practices present and groups, counceling, and therapy. multiple counseling, group guidance, and the lmost interchangeble use of counseling and psychotherapy have added to the uncertainty of the dimensions and true nature of these new concepts.

Adlerian in Group Counseling

According to Corey (202) Adler was a politically and socially oriented psychiatrist who showed great concern for the common person. Indeed, many of his early clients were working-class people who struggled to make a living, raise and educate their children, and make a difference in society.

Part of Adler’s mission was to bring psychological understanding to the general population and to translate psychological concepts into practical methods for helping a varied population meet the challenges of everyday life. Alfred Adler made signifi cant contributions to contemporary therapeutic practice. Adler believed in the social nature of human beings, and he was interested in working with clients in a group context.

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He established more than 30 child guidance clinics in which he pioneered live demonstrations by interviewing children, adults, teachers, and parents in front of community groups. He was the fi rst psychiatrist to use group methods in a systematic way in child guidance centers in the 1920s in Vienna. To fully appreciate the development of the practice of Adlerian psychology, one must recognize the contributions of Rudolf Dreikurs, who was largely responsible for extending and popularizing Adler’s work and transplanting Adler’s ideas to the United States.

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He did a great deal to translate Adlerian principles into the practice of group psychotherapy, and he used group psychotherapy in his private practice for more than 40 years (see Dreikurs, 1960, 1967, 1997). Dreikurs developed and refi ned Adler’s concepts into a clear-cut, teachable system with practical applications for family life, education, preventive mental health, and, especially, group psychotherapy (Terner & Pew, 1978).

Dreikurs was a key fi gure in developing the Adlerian family education centers in the United States. Work with children and their parents in a group setting paved the way for Dreikurs’s pioneering group psychotherapy.It is believed that Dreikurs was the fi rst person to use group therapy in a private practice. Adlerian interventions have been widely applied to diverse client populations of all ages in many different settings. Adlerian group therapy is an integration of key concepts of Adlerian psychology with socially constructed, systemic, and brief approaches based on the holistic model developed by Dreikurs (Sonstegard & Bitter, 2004).

Objectives of Adlerian Group Therapy

·Establishing and maintaining an emphatic relationship between clients and counselor that is based on mutual trust and respect and in which the client feels understood and accepted by the group. ·Providing a therapeutic climate in which clients can come to understand their basics beliefs and feelings about themselves and discover why those beliefs are faulty. ·helping clients develop insight into their mistaken goals and self-defeating behaviors through a process of confrontatio and interpretation. ·assisting clients in discovering alternatives and encouraging them to make choices that is, put insights into action. ·Group provides a mirror of person’s behavior.

·Group members both recieve and give help.


THE FAMILY CONSTELLATION Adler considered the family of origin as having a central impact on an individual’s personality. Adler suggested that it was through the family constellation that each person forms his or her unique view of self, others, and life. Factors such as cultural and familial values, gender-role expectations, and the nature of interpersonal relationships are all infl uenced by a child’s observation of the interactional patterns within the family. Adlerian assessment relies heavily on an exploration of the client’s family constellation, including the client’s evaluation of conditions that prevailed in the family when the person was a young child (family atmosphere), birth order, parental relationship and family values, and extended family and culture.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS As you will recall, another assessment procedure used by Adlerians is to ask the client to provide his or her earliest memories, including the age of the person at the time of the remembered events and the feelings or reactions associated with the recollections. Early recollections are one-time occurrences pictured by the client in clear detail. Adler reasoned that out of the millions of early memories we might have we select those special memories that project the essential convictions and even the basic mistakes of our lives. Early recollections are a series of small mysteries that can be woven together and provide a tapestry that leads to an understanding of how we view ourselves, how we see the world, what our life goals are, what motivates us, what we value and believe in, and what we anticipate for our future (Clark, 2002; Mosak & Di Pietro, 2006).

BIRTH OEDER AND SIBLING RELATIONSHIP The Adlerian approach is unique in giving special attention to the relationships between siblings and the psychological birth position in one’s family. Adler identified five psychological positions, or vantage points, from which children tend to view life: oldest, second of only two, middle, youngest, and only.

Stages of the Alerian Group Therapy

In the initial stage the emphasis is on establishing a good therapeutic relationship based on cooperation, collaboration, egalitarianism, and mutual respect. By attending to the relationship from the first session, counselors are laying a foundation for cohesive ness and connection. Adlerians hold that the successful outcomes of the other group stages are based on establishing and maintaining a strong therapeutic relationship at the initial stage of counseling (Watts & Eckstein, 2009). Group participants are encouraged to be active in the process because they are responsible for their own participation in the group. The group situation provides sample opportunity to work on trust issues and to strengthen the relationship between member and leader. Also, by witnessing positive changes in peers, participants can see how well the group works.


The aim of the second stage is twofold: understanding one’s lifestyle and seeing how it is affecting one’s current functioning in all the tasks of life (Mosak & Maniacci, 2011). During this assessment stage, emphasis is on the individual in his or her social and cultural context. Adlerians do not try to fi t clients into a preconceived model; rather, they allow salient cultural identity concepts to emerge and attend to a clients’ personal meaning of culture (Carlson & Englar-Carlson, 2008). The leader may begin by exploring how the participants are functioning at work and in social situations and how they feel about themselves and their gender-role identities.


Whereas the classical analytic position is that personality cannot change unless there is insight, the Adlerian view is that insight is a special form of awareness that facilitates a meaningful understanding within the counseling relationship and acts as a foundation for change. Yet this awareness is not, in and of itself, enough to bring about signifi cant change. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. According to Carlson and Englar-Carlson (2008), the Adlerian approach is both insight oriented and action oriented. Although insight into our problems can be useful, it is essential that this awareness leads to constructive movement toward desired goals. It is to be noted that people can make abrupt and signifi cant changes without much insight.


The end product of the group process is reorientation and reeducation. The reorientation stage consists of both the group leaders and the members working together to challenge erroneous beliefs about self, life, and others. The emphasis is on considering alternative beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes. During this stage, members put insight into action, making new choices that are more consistent with their desired goals (Carlson & Englar-Carlson, 2008). There is a change in members’ attitudes toward their current life situation and the problems they need to solve. This reorientation is an educational experience. Adlerian groups are characterized by an attempt to reorient faulty living patterns and teach a better understanding of the principles that result in cooperative interaction (Sonstegard & Bitter, 2004). One of the aims is teaching participants how to become more effective in dealing with the tasks of life. Another aim is challenging and encouraging clients to take risks and make changes.


Corey, G. (2012), Theories And Practice of Group Couneling Eight edition. United States, 2008 Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.

Corey, G. (2009), Theories And Practice of Counseling and Psychoterapy. United States, 2005 Thomson Brooks/Cole.z

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Adlerian Group Therapy. (2017, May 21). Retrieved from

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