Counseling Theories

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The text describes the significant features of each therapy.  The three most important aspects that will receive the most attention in class are these:

History or background – How was the theory developed?  What ideas influenced the theoretical development?

Personality theory – How does the theorist explain and view human behavior, thoughts, and/or feelings? How does the theorist understand the client’s problems?

Techniques of psychotherapy and counseling – (This is the most important focus of the course).

What are the goals or purpose of the theory?  How do counselors and others assess or conceptualize behavior, thoughts, or feelings?  Which tests or inventories are used?  What techniques or methods are used to change behavior, thoughts, and/or feelings?

Other areas of the text will be covered to varying degrees in class.  These include:

Applications to psychological disorders – What techniques are used to bring about changes in disorders such as depression, generalized anxiety, and borderline disorders?

Brief psychotherapy – How can the therapy be done more quickly, or more efficiently?

Current trends – How is the theory changing in its techniques and training methods?

Using the theory with other theories – How flexible is the theory?  How can its techniques be combined with those from another theory?  How do integrative therapists use theories?

Research – How well can the effectiveness of therapeutic change be tested?  What types of research have been done and what are their findings? (This will be covered very briefly, and sometimes not at all.)

Gender issues – How does the theory view men and women differently?  How does the therapy address special concerns of women?

Multicultural issues – What cultural values are implicit in the theory?  How does the theory attend to the concerns of individuals from different cultures?

Group counseling – How can the theories and their techniques be applied to group therapy?

Behavioral theory

This theory explains that behaviour is learned and thus determined generally by life experiences. Consequently, treatments and explanations depend on ideologies of learning, or courses by which behaviors adjust in reaction to the surroundings. A key model in behaviorism is training in form of conditioning, which is basically a culture involving rewards and motivations. Sometimes conditioning may result to abnormal or normal behavior. In models, persons learn reactions basically by iterating other persons` behaviours or observing them. Therapy involving behaviour will first identify actions that cause an individual’s complications and then try to substitute them with ideologies of classical conditioning, modeling and operant conditioning (Chan & Thomas, 2015).


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