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Adler School of Professional Psychology


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Since 1952, a singular idea has consistently driven our curricula, training, and community work. That key guiding idea is Alfred Adler's groundbreaking concept of social interest or gemeinschaftsgefühl – the idea that our health resides in our community live and connections. Today's idea is more necessary than ever to drive the work and change most needed in challenged communities around the world.
In 1952, Rudolf Dreikurs and his colleagues established our institution as the Alfred Adler Institute in Chicago—to train practitioners to apply Adler's idea of social interest or gemeinschaftsgefühl. Adler was the first to focus on wellness in the community context. He advanced the revolutionary idea that responsible practitioners must advocate changing the social conditions that affect population health and well-being.
Today, Adler University continues this work to graduate students as socially responsible practitioners—educated to be effective personal and social change agents in the pursuit of justice. Across multiple disciplines and fields that impact population well-being, our alumni are changing the world. Our students come to us to learn how.
Our faculty are practitioners, scholars, activists, and mentors who bring a range of experiences and perspectives on social justice and expertise to the classroom—through our Chicago, Vancouver, and Online Campuses. They regularly rethink and improve our pedagogy as the University builds new academic programs to meet emerging social needs.
Programs such as our first-of-its-kind Doctor of Couple and Family Therapy, preparing expert practitioners in a field of growing demand, and our online Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management, focused on leading organizations for sustainable social impact. Our Master in Counselling Psychology: Art Therapy in Vancouver is British Columbia's only such program, preparing counselors to guide individuals and communities to greater well-being through art as social action.
Our faculty and students—along with our Institute and Centers—are pursuing and producing fantastic work on social issues, including immigration and detention, social exclusion, the social determinants of mental health, LGBTQ mental health, and parenting. More than 600 agencies—and counting—are partnering with the Adler University as community practica and internship sites for our students, enabling our specialized preparation for work with underserved and marginalized populations.
Adler University continues the pioneering work of the first community psychologist Alfred Adler by graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities, and advancing social justice. Alfred Adler began community psychology by articulating the constructs of gemeinschaftsgefühl (social interest or the connection between individual and community well being) and systemic/structural community intervention (such as preventative public health measures).
The three outcomes of the Mission are interconnected conceptually as well as through the organization of Adler University. The University's education and training prepare students to be socially responsible practitioners who engage communities and advance social justice during their course of study and their later professional lives. The University directly engages communities – through over 500 community partnerships including the direct service contracts of Adler Community Health Services and the training relationships which support the delivery of students' Community Service Practica – in order to provide students with experience training in socially responsible practice and to advance social justice within those communities. The University's Institutes for Social Change bring attention to social justice within the University through stimulating changes in the curricula and through specific didactic and experiential activities for students and faculty – as well as promote social justice beyond the boundaries of the University through engaging communities in a variety of programming.
The leading academic institution advancing socially responsible practice, healthy communities, and more just society. The Vision is for Adler University to be the "leading" or premier higher education organization addressing socially responsible practice and its concomitants – locally, regionally, and globally – a unique resource for broadening consistent practice, effecting social justice, understanding policy, initiating advocacy, promoting academic reflection, and producing social action and change.
The three external outcomes of the Vision are aligned with the three outcomes of the Mission. Socially responsible practice is central to Adler University's Mission and Vision. It is the extension of Alfred Adler's original ideas regarding the need for a more equal, cooperative, and just society, as well as his revolutionary ideas regarding the potential for activism among health professionals to address social challenges. The University's faculty defined and operationalized the competency of socially responsible practice, with expected knowledge, attitudes, and skills acquired through specific curricular experiences and evaluated through milestones, for graduate programs in clinical psychology, counseling, family therapy, organizational consultation, art therapy, police psychology, and many related disciplines and applications of psychology.
Adler University is named for Alfred Adler (1870-1937), a physician, psychotherapist, and founder of Adlerian psychology sometimes called individual psychology. He is considered the first community psychologist because his work pioneered attention to community life, prevention, and population health. Adlerian psychology emphasizes the human need and the ability to create positive social change and impact. Adler held equality, civil rights, mutual respect, and the advancement of democracy as core values. He was one of the first practitioners to provide family and group counseling and use public education to address community health. He was among the first to write about the social determinants of health and mental health. Adler's values and concepts drive the Mission, work, and values at the Adler University today.

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