Our History

ADLER was formed with the express purpose of offering degrees and other advanced professional education in the mental health and wellbeing professions to students from Ontario and around the world. Adlerian graduate-level professional education has been a presence in Ontario since 1978.  When the Ontario government enacted the Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act, 2000, members of the ADLER community recognized the opportunity, for the first time in Ontario, to establish an independent degree-granting graduate professional institution that could meet the professional needs of Ontario students. Although it is an independent organization, ADLER maintains collegial relations with other Adlerian institutions such as Adler Graduate School in Minnesota and Adler University in Chicago and Vancouver.

ADLER bases its philosophical assumptions, Core Values and Curriculum Guiding Principles on Individual Psychology, a comprehensive science-of-living system originated and developed by the well-known Austrian psychiatrist, Alfred Adler (1870-1937) who promoted basic values of community and social justice. 

Although ADLER’s educational orientation is rooted in Adlerian philosphy, all major approaches and theories that contribute to mental health and wellbeing are represented in ADLER Curricula. Our experience and professional expertise suggests that a firm grounding in a broad based theory, such as Adlerian Philosophy, provides a foundation for developing high level cognitive and emotional capacity for comparing and evaluating other theories. 

Individual Psychology, or Adlerian Psychology, emphasizes the uniqueness of every individual and stresses the individual’s social embeddedness. At the core of the School’s approach to mental health and wellbeing, and to training professionals in these fields, is a philosophical assumption about the dynamics of being human that draws on the work of Adler. We are all caught in a paradoxical tension between being ourselves, the centre and creator of our own phenomenological universe, and fulfilling the demands of a social community without which we cannot survive. On the one hand, we are all unique human beings with a strong need and desire to express ourselves fully in our life and work. On the other hand, we are subjected to pushes and pulls of in a web of relationships as a member of multiple systems, and an irretrievable part of humanity. Our creativity in resolving this seeming paradox between self-expression and embeddedness determines, to a significant extent, our level of success and fulfillment and, according to Adler, our mental health. The key to resolving the paradox lies in using our unique selves to make a contribution to and with others. Adler calls this key, ‘social interest’.

Our goal at ADLER is to develop professionals whose work will be thoroughly grounded in the intention to help clients creatively resolve and transcend this paradox between self-expression and embeddedness - that is, to develop social interest. Even when that work is narrowly focused on a specific issue or area, we believe that operating from such a higher-level intention will enhance both healing and possibilities for growth and development.