Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington

General Resources

Featured Content:
  * New Book, CADP Volume IV:
      Child & Family Therapy

  * Journal of Individual Psychology
      Special Issue on CADP

Materials to Purchase
    Theme Packs
    Video Interviews

Basic Principles:
    Personality Theory
    Philosophy of Living
    Striving For Significance
    Feeling of Community
    Style of Life
    Birth Order
    Theory of Psychopathology
    Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
    Miscellaneous Topics
    Parent & Teacher Education

Biographies & Photos
    Alfred Adler Biography
    Alfred Adler - Photos
    Other Classical Adlerians

Video Clips
    About Adler, Sicher, & Mueller

Mailing List:
    Join Mailing List

* A Psychology for Democratic Living *

Alfred Adler (1870-1937) developed the first and only psychology for democratic living, based on the unity of the individual, the goal orientation of all behavior, and interest in the welfare of others as the foundation of mental health. His holistic, humanistic philosophy permeates all of his constructs and treatment strategies, reflecting his core beliefs in social equality and the importance of the feeling of community.

* Unique Training Program *

We offer professional, post-graduate, distance-training leading to certification in Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy, through:
        * A mentor relationship with weekly study and Skype/telelphone conversations.
        * The study of the original writings of Alfred Adler and unpublished materials by other Classical Adlerians.
        * The study of unpublished case discussions with Sophia de Vries (1901-1999), a student of Adler's.
        * A personal study-analysis.
        * Annual, three-day, experiential workshops

Basic Principles of Classical Adlerian Psychology

Unity of the Individual
We can understand thinking, feeling, emotion, and behavior only as subordinated to our consistent pattern of dealing with people and tasks, our "style of life." We are not internally divided or the battleground of conflicting forces; each aspect of the personality points in the same direction.

Goal Orientation
One central personality dynamic originates from the growth and forward movement of life. It is a future-oriented striving toward significance or success. In mental health, it is a realistic goal of socially useful significance or overcoming difficulties. In mental disorder, it is an unrealistic goal of superiority over others or impossibly high position. The early childhood, natural feeling of inferiority, for which we aim to compensate, leads to the creation of a fictional final goal, which subjectively seems to promise future security and success. The depth of the inferiority feeling usually determines the height of the "goal", which then becomes the "final cause" of behavior patterns.

Self-Determination and Uniqueness
The goal may be influenced by hereditary and cultural factors, but it ultimately springs from the creative power of the individual, and is consequently unique. Usually, individuals are not fully aware of their goal. Through the analysis of birth order, repeated coping patterns, and earliest memories, the psychotherapist infers the goal as a working hypothesis.

The Feeling of Community
Each human being has the capacity for learning to live in harmony with society. This innate potential for social connectedness has to be consciously developed. Social interest and feeling imply "social improvement," quite different from conformity, leaving room for social innovation even through cultural resistance or rebellion. The feeling of genuine security is rooted in a deep sense of belonging and embeddedness within the stream of social evolution.

Social Context
As an indivisible whole, a system, the human being is also a part of larger wholes or systems--the family, the community, all of humanity, our planet, the cosmos. In these contexts, we meet the three important life tasks: occupation, love and sex, and friendship--all social challenges. Our way of responding to our first social system, the family constellation, may become the prototype of our world view and attitude toward life.

Mental Health
A feeling of human connectedness and a willingness to develop ourselves fully through contribution to the welfare of others are the main criteria of mental health. When these qualities are underdeveloped, feelings of inferiority may haunt us, often compensated by an attitude of superiority which antagonizes others. Consequently, the unconscious, fictional final goal will be self-centered and emotionally or materially exploitative. When the feeling of connectedness and the willingness to contribute are stronger, a sense of equality emerges and the goal will be self-transcending and beneficial to others.

Classical Adlerian individual, brief, couple, and family therapy follow parallel paths. Using the patient, incremental art of encouragement, we help clients overcome their feelings of insecurity, development their sense of connectedness, and redirect their striving for significance into more socially beneficial directions. Through respectful, Socratic dialogue, we challenge them to correct mistaken behaviors, assumptions, and attitudes about themselves and the world. Their increased courage, confidence, and gratification lead to a greater desire and ability to cooperate. The objective of CADP is to replace exaggerated self-protection, self-enhancement, and self-indulgence with courageous contribution to the lives of others.

Implications of Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy (CADP)

A Socially Responsible Psychology for Today
Most psychologies were designed to relieve distress and promote psychological well-being. Adler went further. Stressing our essential interdependence and equality, he believed that psychology could be used to improve the quality of life for everyone, and that true happiness and security result only from useful contribution to others. His holistic philosopy, pedagogy, and psychotherapy provide a solid foundation for democratic living.

A Deeper Understanding of the Individual
We cannot grasp the uniqueness of each individual with symptom descriptions, categories, or typologies. Only Adler's psychological constructs can reveal an artistic portrait of each individual, with a customized blueprint for healing and growth. Only with Adler's original approach can we possibly relieve and heal hidden inferiority feelings; uncover and dissolve an unconscious, fictional goal; clarify and correct dichotomized thinking; convert private logic to common sense; and overcome chronic discouragement.

Correcting Common Misconceptions About Adlerian Theory and Practice
Although Adler achieved worldwide recognition during his lifetime, after his death in 1937 an accurate perception of his ideas in the United States diminished, largely because of the limited number of his translated clinical works; misrepresentations of his theory, philosophy, and therapeutic style in academic texts; and authors who attempted to simplify and systematize his approach. Although many clinicians have read his popular writings, few have studied his clinical works. Some have even lifted pieces of Adler's theory and inserted them in an eclectic framework, defeating the purpose of his integrated vision and contradicting his beliefs. His style of treatment was warm, gentle, and creative, not cool, aggressive, and systematic. The therapist's personality and attitude must be fully congruent with Adler's philosophy. Clinicians, instructors, and authors who deviate promote their own approach, not Adler's.

Why Do We Use the Term "Classical" Adlerian?
Simplifications and distortions by other authors have misled students into believing that a number of "Adlerian" approaches are equally valid. Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy (CADP) is rooted in Adler's original teachings and style of treatment. Our work is also influenced by early Adlerians who remained faithful to Adler's ideas and treatment strategies: Sophia de Vries, Alexander Mueller, Anthony Bruck, and Lydia Sicher. To retain Adler's rich legacy, we have translated, edited, and published a twelve-volume set of The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler; offer mentor-oriented distance-training; and have maintained a website, discussion forum and mailing list since l996. In the 1950's, Alexander Mueller predicted that "Adler will have to be re-discovered, from the roots up, by a future generation." We have accepted that challenge.

Adler & Maslow: Partners in Self-Actualization
Alfred Adler and Abraham Maslow were devoted to optimal human development. Similar to Adler, Maslow articulated the common attributes of self-actualizing individuals. He emphasized the pre-requisites of hard work, dedication to a worthy cause, and overcoming psychological limitations. Some of his ideas drifted into a business community hungry for greater productivity. Although Maslow's vision of self-actualization does not fit most approaches to psychotherapy, it complements Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy. Adler and Maslow inspire us with their rare, optimistic vision of what each of us can become.

Full Range of Therapeutic & Educational Interventions
The Classical Adlerian approach provides a fully integrated range of treatment modes: Individual Depth Psychotherapy, Child and Family Therapy, Brief Therapy, Substance Abuse Treatment, Career Assessment & Guidance, and Organizational Consulting. Parent and Teacher Eductation Workshops, taught by trained therapists, feature effective educational strategies for prevention.

Distance Training & Certification
We offer post-graduate, professional training leading to certification, based on a one-to-one mentor relationship with weekly study and telephone/Skype discussions. In addition to a vigorous study of theory and practice, the program includes a personal study-analysis and individual case supervision. Fully certified Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapists are currently located in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, and Taiwan.

Twelve Stages of Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy

For additional information, contact:
Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., Director & Senior Training Analyst
Alfred Adler Institute of Northwestern Washington
2565 Mayflower Lane
Bellingham, WA 98226
TeL: (360) 647-5670     E-mail:

Professional Resources

Distance Training
    * Certification in CADP:
        Classical Adlerian
        Depth Psychotherapy

    * Training Analysts
        Henry T. Stein, Ph.D.
        Dyanne Pienkowski, M.A.
        Erik Mansager, Ph.D.

Study & Research
    * The Collected Clinical
        Works of Alfred Adler

        12-Volume Set

        Review of The CCWAA

Subscription Site
    Video Demonstration &

Video & Audio Clips of
        Adler, Sicher, & Bruck

    Complete Online Books
        by Alfred Adler

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