All PEP services (classes, workshops, talks) present a practical, proven approach to child rearing based upon the Adlerian philosophy of mutual respect, shared responsibility, developing competence, and winning cooperation. So, what is Adlerian Psychology? Read below for a brief summary.
What IS an Adlerian? Am I one? Should I be one? Do I want to be one? Does taking PEP classes and using these practical ideas make me one?
On the most basic level, an Adlerian is someone who subscribes to the Individual Psychology of the Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870-1937). PEP is an Adlerian organization because Adler's insights and teachings form the basis of PEP's approach to raising families and to parenting education.
Adler's philosophy is humanistic, optimistic and pragmatic. A contemporary of Jung and Freud, Adler is perhaps most famous for identifying the inferiority complex, life tasks and social interest. His contributions are much greater and more comprehensive than that.
In a simplified form, here are some basic Adlerian premises:
- Humans are whole beings, consistent within themselves. In this holistic approach an individual cannot be understood by any single trait or partial group of characteristics, but instead in totality, as a whole, indivisible unit. We are not the battleground of conflicting drives. Nor are we fixed, stagnant entities; each of us is in a continual, on-going process of development.
- All human beings are social beings. We strive to gain a sense of competence and significance and to feel belonging within whatever group we are in -- family, school, workplace, community, humanity, etc. We are dependent on the cooperation of our fellow beings. Since our responses to important problems affect others, individual problems become family problems, which then impact on larger communities.
- We respond to reality, not as it is, but rather as we each perceive it to be. This is our private logic. Each individual develops his or her own personality or style of life which includes a basic self-concept, a world view, and a fundamental mode of dealing with life situations.
- All our behaviors -- however conscious or unconscious, constructive or destructive -- are purposeful and consistent with our style of life. Human beings are goal-directed. Emotions can be viewed as motivators, the fuel to power us towards our goals. Understanding the purpose of a behavior, what one gets or is trying to get from the behavior, enables us to make changes. To understand someone else, we must "put ourselves in their shoes."
- We do not always have control over what happens to us, but we can, and do, decide how to respond to what occurs. We are responsible for our choices and actions. We can change and grow. We may not be aware of making choices or of the consequences of our choices but we are responsible for them. Life deals the cards, we play the hand.
- It matters less what inherited or acquired abilities and deficits we actually possess, than what we choose to do with them. We are motivated by the desire to overcome what we perceive as our own inferiority or helplessness. We strive for a sense of significance, success or superiority.
- Every person has the innate potential for developing social interest, that is, concern for and a sense of connection with humanity. Adler called this "Gemeinschaftsgefühl." Ones level of social interest corresponds to ones degree of mental health.
- Each of us is faced with the same life tasks: love/intimate relationships, friendship/community, work/occupation and spirituality/inner self. We address these challenges in ways that are consistent with our style of life.
- We strive for a sense of personal dignity and equality. We flourish where our relationships with others are based upon cooperation and mutual respect.
Some suggested readings:
Harold H. Mosak and Michael P. Maniacci (1999). A Primer of Adlerian Psychology: The Analytic-Behavioral-Cognitive Psychology of Alfred Adler. New York: Brunner-Routledge
Rudolf R. Dreikurs, MD (1989). The Fundamentals of Adlerian Psychology. Chicago: Adler School of Professional Psychology.
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