Gemeinschaftsgefühl: Community Engagement

In the summer of 2013, The Adler School of Professional Psychology, now Adler University, published a magazine for alumni and friends of the school called Gemeinschaftsgefühl. You may be thinking that’s a typo, but it’s not.  Gemeinschaftsgefühl means “community engagement” or “social interest.” This Adlerian terminology describes how connected and interested one is in the wellness of others. This also augments one’s psychological health is used to describe one’s connectedness and interest in the well-being of others that enhances or pre-conditions psychological health. The magazine also states that Gemeinschaftsgefühl is “The revolutionary notion that Alfred Adler proposed in turn-of-the-century Vienna that drives the groundbreaking and far-reaching curricula and commitment to community engagement at the Adler School.” This term was basically the mantra on which Adler based many of his teachings. Adlerian psychology stresses the need that humans have to create positive social change and the ability to impact it. His core values are equality, civil rights, mutual respect, and the advancement of democracy. Basically, healthy people approach life looking for ways to help, give, and be of service.  They care about others.  There is also psychology behind volunteering, specifically.


In another article by Winerman, (2006), she listed five psychological bases for why people tend to volunteer:

  1. Values: volunteering to satisfy personal values or humanitarian concerns. For some people this can have a religious component.
  2. Community concern: volunteering to help a particular community, such as a neighborhood or ethnic group, to which you feel attached.
  3. Esteem enhancement: volunteering to feel better about yourself or escape other pressures.
  4. Understanding: volunteering to gain a better understanding of other people, cultures or places.
  5. Personal development: volunteering to challenge yourself, meet new people and make new friends, or further your career.

These principles are not limited to volunteering to give back to one’s community. They can be applied to donating and helping others in general as well. As human beings, we are one of the only species that will voluntarily put our selves in situations involving sacrifice for the betterment of others we may never meet. No act of civil service is too small. On top of doing good for your community, you are also doing something good for yourself. Being part of something that helps others can bring people together. You can meet new people and challenge yourself while helping your community.

If you’re having trouble thinking of a way that you can give back to your community, donating is always a great way to start! Here at Olive Branch Counseling Associates, during the month of November and early December staff members and clients came together to help a community agency prepare area families for Christmas.  Together We Cope, a food pantry and resale shop asked for donations of new children’s toys and pajamas.  Olive Branch responded!  Check out the photo and see what wonderfully healthy and generous people we have grace us with their presence at Olive Branch!

If the holidays bring anxiety, sadness or loneliness that is difficult to deal with and you’re near us, please feel free to give us a call to schedule an appointment.   Olive Branch is located at 6819 W. 167th Street, Tinley Park, IL 60477. We can be reached at (708) 633-8000.  If you’re not near us, you can find licensed providers on line through the American Counseling Association.

Winerman, L. (2006) Helping others, helping ourselves. Monitor on Psychology, 37(11), 38.

Click to access 2013_Gemein_LowRes.pdf



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