According to Adlerian psychology, early recollections represent an assessment technique useful in uncovering themes or patterns in an individual’s life based on analyzing early memories. Alfred Adler believed that people only have memories of events that are congruent with their views of themselves and the world around them, thus recalling and identifying themes (which are linked to core beliefs) among the memories was an effective way of exposing information about the individual personality and functioning.
In this technique, the therapist asks the person to recall their earliest memories and proceeds to ask relevant follow-up questions to identify the early recollections’ common themes. This process aims to uncover the individual’s interpretation of the memories and how that might relate to present maladaptive behaviors and beliefs, thereby promoting self-awareness and behavioral change. Conflict, a sense of betrayal or disappointment, abandonment and a view of others as dangerous are some examples of themes that are commonly identified in early memories.