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EVALUATION

Overview

The supporting research for Adler's theory and the challenges and limitations of assessing Adlerian concepts and techniques are described in this section. There are two major areas of limitations noted. A summary chart is provided. Finally, a case study is offered using Adlerian therapy.

Supporting Research

Adler's theory is one of the most simplistic and application-oriented theories available. As suggested by Adler (1964), the practical evidence of his theory is based on his case studies; many of his writings included excerpts from these studies. Milliren et al. (2007) noted that there were a limited number of empirical studies in the past that were based on either experimental designs of Adler's case studies or studies of individual psychology conducted by researchers who were not Adlerian practitioners. Empirical research of Adlerian theory began to evolve in the 1970s, as described in a 1983 summary report by Watkins (cited in Milliren et al., 2007) on 75 research studies published between 1970 to 1981 and Watkins's follow-up study in 1992 on 103 studies completed from 1982 to 1990. During both of these periods, Watkins noted that while there was an increase in empirical research on Adler's theory, clinical trials were still very limited.

Although there has been an increase in research based on Adler's theory, there are still various viewpoints on the effectiveness of that research, specifically, criticism on how it was conducted or the many confounding variables present in the studies (Milliren et al., 2007). Extensive literature reviews have examined Adlerian studies on birth order, such as the review by Ernst and Angst (1983) on research published between 1946 and 1980 as well as Sulloway's (1995) meta-analytic review. More recent studies include Beck, Burnet, and Vosper (2006) on birth order and extraversion and Laird and Shelton (2008) on birth order and binge drinking. In addition to the empirical research, several assessment instruments have been developed to measure various Adlerian constructs, including Crandall's Social Interest Scale, Eckstein's Lifestyle Self-Assessment, and Rule's Early Recollections Questionnaire. Also, there are various national and international organizations that promote Adler's research; one such source is the Adler School of Professional Psychology, which can be found online at adler.edu.

 
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