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Scientific Basis

Ethical Fundamentals

Principles of Acting



Individual Psychology – Strengths and Distinctions  

The Individual Psychology founded by Alfred Adler is a social psychology with a humanistic and systemic orientation. Human beings are seen in a holistic way as a unity of mind and body. They are part of the social community from which they cannot be divided. Special attention is paid to the social conditions and relations which influence the forming of the personality.

Thus the anthropological mind-set of the Individual Psychology is founded on holistic, systemic and social dynamic relations. Every human being wants to be part of a community and contribute to it. This fundamental interest, called “Gemeinschaftsgefühl” by Alfred Adler and translated as community feeling, social feeling or social interest, has actually two elements. One is the feeling of belonging to a community and the other is accepting a responsibility for the community out of interest or empathy for not just oneself.

The social interest is not to be understood as a normative but as an analytic category. Human behaviour should be understood, explained and described hermeneutically “as it is” without moral valuation from outside (non judgemental). This analytical approach makes it possible to distinguish between the “doer and the deeds”, to understand a discouraged person and to appreciate her/his uniqueness and personal values as well as an encouraged person with strong social relations.

Human acting is not just understood on the basis of “why” somebody is doing something but rather on the basis of “what for”; instead of taking a (mono-) causalistic approach which looks for reasons, the focus is laid on the motives or the purpose/goal of somebody’s acting or non-acting (finalistic or teleologic approach).

This comprises so called short term goals of human behaviour as well as the fictional goal (guiding fiction) in the sense of individual guiding lines. According to Alfred Adler, every person strives to be socially connected while remaining unique. This is achieved by compensating (or over-compensating) a feeling (or complex) of inferiority which has been developed in early childhood.

These psychological dynamics have to be understood finalisticaly (teleologicaly), resulting from the evolutionary goal of the individual to develop and grow. The human being is striving from “minus to plus”, from deficit to completeness, from “insecurity (inferiority) to a feeling of boosted personality (superiority).

Mental diseases, personality development, social conflicts as well as human abilities, strengths and cultural achievements have to be seen on the basis of this fundamental dynamic. The aspects of social feeling and the goal oriented behaviour (finality) are expressed in everybody’s acting, thinking and feeling, although the person is not aware of it, as these aspects lie in the unconscious, or un-understood.

Compensating and over-compensating striving which are innate to human beings, can be developed in two opposing directions, towards the socially useful side, seeing fellow men as partners or  -  as a consequence of discouraging social experiences- to the socially harmful side away from community, away from other people into a subjective dead end street, seeing fellow men as adversaries and enemies.

Every person creates his/her own life and social contacts in the sense of this polarity. Thus, these analytical aspects offer an excellent possibility for a holistic understanding and for an encouragement regarding human relations in private and professional life.

The outstanding difference between the Individual Psychology and other psychological schools of thought lies in it’s emphasis on a goal oriented/finalistic interpretation of human acting, which always leads to a broader perception.

Broader approach in thinking and understanding    

The member institutes of the ViBD also look at, interpret or apply other psychological schools of thought, the theories of which are close to the Individual Psychology 

  •             Person centered communication,  Rogers / Tausch / Kelly

  •             Constructivism, Watzlawick

  •             Systems theory

  •             Gestalt therapy

  •             Theory of communication, Schulz von Thun

  •             Cognitive behavioural theory, Ellis and others

  •             Existential analysis, Boss / Heidegger

Today, the importance of moods and feelings is highlighted in general and this is a necessary enhancement of Alfred Adler’s theories. The counsellors and psychotherapists in the ViBD distance themselves from simple methodical schools and manipulative approaches, where the use of a method is decisive for the “correctness” of the psychological findings (variants of behaviourism and positivism). Simple methodical schools do not reach far enough, as they do not come up to the complexity of men as described above. We consider such practises to be useless for counselling (and psychotherapy)  as we are convinced, that the decisive factor in person centred work are the analysis of and care about relationship on the one hand and the holistic/phenomenological understanding of men on the other hand. We furthermore see no use in taking people apart in the sense of separate unrelated elements, as, e.g., in layer models of the dogmatic psychoanalysis. We are convinced that a change in human behaviour is only possible, when counselling or psychotherapy go beyond cognitive understanding and recognize men as self responsible beings.


Stand II/ 2007


Stand: 08.12.2010


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