A nonprofit educational organization founded in 1975, the Puget Sound Adlerian Society offers information, referrals, workshops, lectures, courses, and other resources and support to parents, parent educators, teachers, counselors, social workers, workplace managers, and other people who are interested in mutually respectful, cooperative relationships—community-building—in families, classrooms, workplaces, and everywhere else.
Parent education has been an important focus for many years. We help parents choose attitudes and actions of respect for their children and themselves—attitudes and actions that strengthen a child’s sense of belonging and improve family relationships. Kids don’t come with instructions: it is all too easy to put children, family relations, and marriages at risk when parents just need some new skills and positive expectations.
What Is Adlerian Psychology?
Alfred Adler, M.D. (1870-1937), a Viennese physician and psychiatrist, was the first in his field to note the relevance of social relationships to mental and physical health, and to emphasize the crucial importance of nurturing our innate ability to cooperate as equal human beings and to encourage one another and ourselves. Adler came to believe that “Gemeinschaftsgefühl”—caring for the cares of others—could help transform people and the world. Lecturing and teaching in Europe and America, he worked hard to help parents, teachers, students, and his clients develop a more democratic mindset and a stronger sense of community. He called his approach “Individual Psychology,” “individual” meaning “holistic” in the German sense of the word. He wrote:
Individual Psychology instructs in self-understanding, the understanding of others, independence, and encouragement. . . . Its foremost task is to establish among the broad masses of the people a firm basis for a sound, optimistic view and conduct of life, promoting the welfare of all. Born from good common sense, it returns to the people in purified and practically applicable form what it has received from them. It feels at one with the noblest striving and the most sublime peaceful ideals of humanity freed from hatred. . . . We have the firm conviction that along our way a happier future for humanity can be found.
Choosing mutual respect, cooperation, and contribution is a choice for healthy families and healthy communities and is relevant to all cultures with democratic values. Many of the world’s religions express this same sense of mutual respect in some form of the Golden Rule.
Improving Family Relationships
In culture after culture around the globe, authoritarian methods in overnments are fading and being replaced by more democratic governments. In this country, the democratic evolution has reached women and is reaching children. More and more families want to help children to live responsibly in a democratic, not authoritarian or permissive, setting—for the sake of our families and for the sake of living our lives as caring and effective citizens in the broader community. Democratic parents are authoritative and set clear, nonnegotiable limits in matters of safety, health, and morality (for example, requiring your young child to hold your hand while crossing a street, or requiring your middleschooler to let you know where he/she is). For other matters, we work out guidelines, choices, and solutions, often together in family meetings.
We chose to encourage children and help them learn to solve problems rather than to order, reward, and punish them as in authoritarian models. Barbara Coloroso, author of Kids Are Worth It!, calls this “giving your child the gift of inner discipline,” or helping our children learn how to think, not what to think. Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting, calls this “working with,” rather than “doing to,” children. Some parents have revolted against authoritarian methods and have chosen permissiveness, which leaves children unclear about what behavior is acceptable (respectful) and what is not, thereby jeopardizing the children’s sense of belonging and contributing. Adlerian parenting offers effective, family-building choices that also engender peaceful communities.
We believe that the kind and firm attitudes and actions of mutual respect are teachable and learnable. Adlerian parenting courses for parents of young children address everyday challenges such as getting the kids off to school in the morning, homework, chores, fighting, bedtime, and finding time together—without ourselves yelling and fighting or being otherwise disrespectful. Children and youth may still make some poor choices (we are all fallible human beings), but if we parent our children with respectful guidance while they are young, they are less likely to be at risk in their youth.
A Stanford University study shows that youth raised in democratic families do better in school. University of New Brunswick researchers say that how you bring up your children affects their future more than how much money you earn. They recommend providing a warm and caring environment and encouraging independence. The ACE Study (noted on p. 1) and a great deal of other research suggest there are immense health and mental-health benefits from raising children who feel cared for and respected.
Adlerian-Based Parenting Courses
Adler’s colleague Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, and several other teachers and counselors have developed parenting courses based on Adlerian Psychology. Millions of parents of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds in this country and elsewhere have taken these courses through schools, churches, family centers, the military, community colleges, and other providers. This calendar shows current Adlerian-based courses in shaded boxes, like this. Many other parenting programs have been influenced by Adlerian Psychology.
We would be happy to refer you to Adlerian instructors if your organization wishes to sponsor parenting courses. Below are some Adlerian-based books for parenting courses. (Spanish-language courses and books are shown in red throughout the calendar.) We usually have grant funding to co-sponsor Positive Discipline and Disciplina Positiva courses with other nonprofit organizations—call us!
- Active Parenting 4th Edition, Padres Activos de Hoy, Active Parenting of Teens 3rd Edition, Paternidad Activa de Adolescentes, 1,2,3,4 Parents,1,2,3,4, ¡Padres!, and Padres a Bordo, a video-based program by Michael Popkin, PhD, and others, www.activeparenting.com.
- Developing Capable Young People, by H. Stephen Glenn, PhD, CapabilitiesInc.com.
- Positive Discipline for Parenting in Recovery, by Jane Nelsen, EdD, PositiveDiscipline.com.
- Positive Discipline, Disciplina Positiva, Positive Discipline for Teenagers, and other books in the Positive Discipline series by Jane Nelsen, EdD, and others, PositiveDiscipline.com. An online version is also available–Positive Discipline: Creating Respectful Relationships in Homes & Schools, onlineclass.PositiveDiscipline.com. (P, $99 for 1-year access, $69 special)
- The STEP series: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (school-age STEP), Guia para los padres, Parenting Teenagers (STEP/Teen), and Parenting Young Children (early childhood STEP), STEPpublishers.com.
First Friday Forums. Members and friends are welcome to our free First Friday Forums (usually the first Friday of the month, 7:30-9:30 p.m.), with presentations and discussions on various topics including parenting and counseling. For dates and topics, please see psasadler.org/education.pdf, or call 206-527-2566.
The Parenting Calendar. Four times a year, PSAS posts its grant-funded Parenting Calendar online at psasadler.org/calendar.pdf. The 50-some-page calendar lists all the parenting courses, lectures, workshops, conferences, parent coaches and mentors, support groups, and facilitator trainings that we know of in the central Puget Sound area. We update each quarterly issue as new information becomes available. If you teach parenting, let us know and we’ll list your courses.
Parenting Courses and Facilitator Training. For 30 years PSAS co-sponsored the award-winning Sanity Circus lecture courses with PTAs, schools, family centers, and churches, and now we offer the experiential courses Positive Discipline and Disciplina Positiva, co-sponsoring them with other nonprofit organizations. We co-sponsor Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way with Sound Discipline and the Positive Discipline Association.
Continuing Education for Mental-Health Professionals. Our Certificate Program for Professional Studies in the Psychology of Alfred Adler, offered for many years, is no longer being offered because of the passing of Robert Powers, one of the presenters. Our First Friday Forums provide CE hours for mental-health professionals.
Continuing Education for Educators. PSAS co-sponsors the course Positive Discipline in the Classroom (also with Sound Discipline and the Positive Discipline Association).
Library. The PSAS library has a good collection of books on parenting, teaching, counseling, and theory. Library books are available without charge other than mailing. Videos and DVDs may be rented for a small fee. Please call ahead to visit (206-527-2566). See LibraryThing.com/catalog/PSASlibrary.
Bookstore. We also offer parenting books, tapes/CDs, and videos/DVDs for sale. Please see psasadler.org/booklist.pdf. A discount on quantity purchases (usually 15%) is available to schools and libraries and also to course instructors for course books.
Membership. Please call or email us for a copy of the PSAS brochure and other membership information. See psasadler.org/membership.pdf for the membership application form. Members receive a 20% discount on most book, tape/CD, and video/DVD purchases for personal use. Members are welcome at PSAS Board meetings, our winter holiday dinner, and our annual meeting and dinner in the spring.
Referrals. Please call PSAS, 206-527-2566, for referrals to Adlerian counselors, therapists, parenting instructors, and parent coaches.
Event Notices. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to add you to our “Friends” email list.
Donations. Donations are most welcome. They can be earmarked for our Pay-It-Forward Fund for parenting courses if you wish.