Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington

Paths to Becoming an Adlerian

Martha Edwards, New York City

[Martha Edwards photograph]

I am on the faculty and Director of the Early Prevention Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York City. I use Adlerian theory as my core conceptual framework in my therapy practice with individuals, couples, and families, and in the design of a prevention program for parents and infants.

I began serious study of Adlerian psychology with Dr. Adele Davidson, professor at New York University's graduate program of Applied Social Psychology, where I got my Ph.D. The program was an integration of neurophysiology, ego psychology, and social psychology (primarily Kurt Lewin), with a number of supplementary theoretical systems, e.g., role theory, the small group theories of Homans and Bales, the work on personality by Henry Murray, the social interactionists (Mead, Cooley). While these theories described how people behaved, they did not provide a very satisfactory explanation for why people did what they did. Furthermore, many of these theories seemed to hold a view of individuals as weak and egocentric, caught in the throes of internal and external forces. In Adler, I found a theory that acknowledged the power of these internal and external forces by taking into consideration factors on different levels of analysis -- physiological, psychological, social psychological, and cultural. At the same time, however, Adler also acknowledged the tremendous creative power that individuals possessed to make meaning of these forces and to act on this meaning in very unique ways. This fit with what I saw around me. The theory also provided an explicit philosophical framework that was both enlightening and inspiring.

Adele had studied in Los Angeles with Lydia Sicher (see Sicher bio) and was also profoundly personally influenced by her. I learned the fundamentals of Adlerian theory and was fortunate to be able to help Adele with the massive task she had undertaken to edit Sicher's lectures and writings into a book. After Adele left NYU, she moved to North Carolina to work with IBM, and has since retired and is living in California.

In 1989, I attended the annual five-day intensive seminar in Adlerian theory and practice at the Adler Institute of San Francisco, conducted by Dr. Henry Stein. Almost from the beginning, I knew I had found my Adlerian "home." Henry is a brilliant therapist who not only mastered Adlerian theory and practice, but has also integrated this work with that of other Classical Adlerians, his own creative innovations, and the work of relevant non-Adlerians. He and his colleagues at the Alfred Adler Institute of San Francisco have created a supportive and stimulating group that I work with and visit as often as possible.

Private Practice Office:
Martha E. Edwards, Ph.D.
Ackerman Institute for the Family
149 E. 78th St. New York, NY 10021
(212) 879-4900 Ext. 133

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