Skip to main content

Individual Psychology (Adler)


Adlerian psychology


Developed by Alfred Adler, Individual Psychology is a theory of human behavior and a therapeutic approach that encourages individuals to make positive contributions to society as well as to achieve personal happiness.


Also known as Adlerian Psychology, Individual Psychology is a theory of human behavior that focuses on the basic need of belonging and the importance of engaging in constructive actions (Adler 1956). Alfred Adler, its founder, believed that all behavior is goal oriented and that individuals are motived to seek “belonging” or significance and meaning in their lives by the way they function in social systems (Adler 1956). Adler believed that human beings first learn how to belong and interact with others in their initial social environment, their family. He emphasized the individual’s position in the family system, psychological birth order, family dynamics, and attempt to avoid feelings of inferiority (Carlson et al. 2006)....

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   3,499.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD   4,999.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  • Adler, A. (1956). In H. Ansbacher & R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.), The individual psychology of Alfred Adler (p. 1956). New York: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carlson, J., Watts, R., & Maniacci, M. (2006). Adlerian therapy: Theory and practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Further Reading

  • Dinkmeyer, D., & Sperry, L. (2000). Counseling and psychotherapy: An integrated individual psychology approach (3rd ed.). Columbus: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dreikurs, R. (1998). The challenge of marriage. Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis Group.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mosak, H. H., & Di Pietro, R. (2006). Early recollections: Interpretative method and application. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Orgler, H. (1963). Alfred Adler: The man and his work. New York: Capricorn Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sperry, L., Carlson, J., Duba, J., & Sperry, J. (Eds.). (2014). Psychopathology and psychotherapy: DSM-5 diagnosis, case conceptualization, and treatment (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jon Sperry .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Section Editor information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this entry

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this entry

Sperry, J., Sperry, L. (2020). Individual Psychology (Adler). In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

Download citation