Home Concepts Schools of Coaching Adlerian Alfred Adler and the Future of Coaching: Ethics, Equality, and Eternity

Alfred Adler and the Future of Coaching: Ethics, Equality, and Eternity

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By Linda J. Page and Camille Labelle, Adler Graduate Professional School, Toronto, Canada

 Abstract: Alfred Adler influenced not only the profession of clinical psychology but also the development of professional coaching in the 20th century, resulting in his being recognized as a “grandfather of coaching” by non-Adlerians as well as by Adlerians. Adler’s humanistic and integrative concept of “social interest” is currently finding expression in coaching’s concerns regarding oppression and privilege. Adlerian assumptions not yet taken up by coaching present three challenges for the future of the field, under the headings of ethics, equality, and eternity.


The claim that “Adler is the grandfather of coaching” was made not by stalwarts in the Adlerian community, but rather by professional coaches who had little familiarity with Individual Psychology before 1998, when we at Adler Graduate Professional School (AGPS) asked them to design a coach training program. Not being familiar with Alfred Adler, faculty members wondered whether coaching would be a “fit” at a school with Adler in the name.

Following the suggestion by Mosak, Maniacci, and Maniacci (1999) that assumptions define “the rules of the game” of any endeavor, the AGPS Coaching Founding Faculty[1] compared coaching assumptions with those of Alfred Adler to see whether there is a fit. Coaching assumptions were drawn from International Coach Federation (ICF) competencies (2019), influential coaching literature (Page, 2003; Rock and Page, 2009), and the faculty members’ own training in various coaching schools. Adlerian assumptions were based on selected Adlerian authors (Page, 2003); lectures and reading from co-author Page’s studies for the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology at Adler University (1978-1989); and her teaching as part of the Doctoral Faculty at that institution (1991-1999). Seeing the extent of overlap, the AGPS Faculty declared a “fit” and further that “Alfred Adler is the grandfather of coaching.” Director Melinda Sinclair and co-author Page reported on this conclusion in 2006.

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