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Counselors can use these when they are trying to find solutions for a client's problem or to help a client find a solution - they can use these in order to guide them in their hypothesizing.

Why Theory is important

important for helping a counselor formulate an approach & framework for client's needs/situations. It helps explain what happens in a counseling relationship and assists the counselor in predicting, evaluating and improving results.

How do we know a Theory is good?

it is good when it makes sense/ is clear, includes a broad enough spectrum/comprehensive, generates more research, gives a way to achieve goals, helps the people it is meant to help.


when a counselor uses various theories and techniques to match their client's needs with an average of 4.4 theories making up their therapeutic work.

Sigmund Freud

A Viennese psychiatrist, he is the person primarily associated with psychoanalysis, especially the classical school of thought.

Anna Freud

further elaborated the theory of psychoanalysis, especially as it relates to children and development of defense mechanisms.


comprised of amoral basic instincts and which operates according to the pleasure principle


the conscious, decision-making "executive of the mind", which operates according to the reality principle


the conscience of the mind that contains the values of parental figures and that operates according to the moral principle.

psychosexual developmental stages

oral, anal (delight from withholding or eliminating), phallic stage (chief zone of pleasure is the sex organs), latency (energy is focused on peers, cog. learning, physical skills), genital stage (where each gender takes interest in the other and "normal" heterosexual patterns of interaction appear.

Defense Mechanisms

Ways of coping with anxiety on the unconscious level by denying or distorting reality ie. repression,

Adlerian Psychology

this theory emphasizes the holistic and indivisible nature of people - differs from psychoanalytic focus on biological drives and stresses importance of subjective feelings and social interest. Birth order and family environment are also important to this theory.

Alfred Adler

founder of Adlerian approach to counseling, contemporary of Sigmund Freud - his theory is more hopeful.

Inferiority Complex

Each person initially feels inferior to others. If this feeling is not overcome, the person develops this and if not changed, becomes the basis by which one's personality is defined.

Superiority Complex

a person who overcompensates for feelings of inferiority develops this, otherwise known as a neurotic fiction that is unproductive.


focuses on the potential of individuals to actively choose and purposefully decide about matters related to themselves and their environments.


Freud, Erikson, Jung

psychoanalytic theory

reconstruct the personality rather than solve immediate problems; focus on the past and analyze the aspects of the unconscious that are manifested in present behavior


the result of failing to meet some critical developmental task or becoming fixated at somem early level of development

stages of psychosexual development

oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital

neurotic personality development

incomplete resolution of one of the stages of psychosexual development

free association

(psychoanalytic) permitting the client to say whatever come to mind in order to reveal the unconscious

strengths and contributions of Freud's theory

benefits are first theory/framework for exploring a person's history, resolving resistance to therapy

analysis and interpretation resistance or transference

(psychoanalytic) therapist interprets to the client the significance of resistance or transference

limitations to Freud's theory

prolonged training, lengthy period of therapy, importance of action is not realized, not measurable, does not take into account social, cultural, and interpersonal variables, cannot be used in crisis counseling


clt is angry and someone and takes it out on the clr

adlerian therapy

this theory focuses on social interests as well as the importance of developing a healthy style of life. Stresses the importance of subjective feelings - more hopeful than psychoanalysis

lifestyle assessment

main tool of adlerian theory, questionnaire about the clt's family, memories, dreams, and self-concepts, explores birth order and interaction

therapist's role in adlerian therapy

a guide, responsibility is placed on the client & a contract may be completed

Strenths and contributions of Adlerian therapy

it's benefits are that cnslr approach clients with an educational orientation and have an optimistic outlook on life. It is versatile over the lifespan and is useful for treatment of a variety of disorders

limitations of Adler's theory

inability to validate concepts, oversimplification of complex human functioning

Behavioral Therapy

Skinner, Pavlov, Bandura,

goals of behavior therapy

eliminate negative learned behavior; goals should be mutually agreed-on, specific, concrete, with specific problems,

role of counslr in behavior theory

Active in sessions, helps clnt learn/unlearn/relearn specif. ways of behaving. Functions as consultant, teacher, advisor, reinforcer, facilitator - operates from broad perspective & involves client in every phase of counseling

techniques that can be used with behavior theory

reinforcement, modeling, assertive training, generalization, extinction, punishment etc.

Strengths & contributions of behavior theory

techniques are based on empirical research, treatment is based on the assessment of ind. needs, effective on short-term, focus on here and now, saves time and money

limitations of behavior theory

success depends upon the ability to control environmental factors, danger of imposing conforming behaviors, does not address philosophical problems, cnslr could direct towards own personal goals, past history may not be considered important

founder of rational-emotive behavioral therapy (REBT)

Albert Ellis

cognitive-behavior therapy

clients explore reasons for their behavior and seek to understand the ramifications of such behavior

cogntivie-behavior therapists

Ellis, Beck, Meichenbaum

REBT view of human nature

irrational beliefs - people are inherently rational and irrational - sensible and crazy. People have means to control thoughts/feelings/actions but must first realize SELF TALK which requires personal, conscious awareness.


the approach that serves as the basis for REBT:
Actual event, Belief system, Consequences, Dispute irrational thoughts, Effective new philosophies

Limitations of REBT

cannot be used effectively with individuals who have mental problems (Schizophrenics), may be too closely related to founder Albert Ellis, too direct, emphasis on changing thinking may not be simplest way to help clients

Strengths and Contributions of REBT

clear, easily learned, can easily be combined with other behavioral techniques , short term, lots of literature and research based on REBT

founder of Reality Theory (CBT)


Reality Theory assumes

assumes that we are in charge of our lives, we choose our forms of behavior, and that behavior is directed towards increasing self-esteem, increasing belonging, power, freedom, and fun. About CONSCIOUSNESS

(Reality theory) 4 needs that drive us

belonging, power, freedom, and fun

cbt is used for

depression, anxiety, and phobic behavior

Role of Counsellor in Reality Therapy (CBT)

is one of concern, support, warmth, involved with clt in positive way, not accepting excuses for inappropriate behavior, and continuosly prodding and pushing to help the clt accept the reality and responsibility for her actions

goals of Reality Therapy (CBT)

1) help client become psychologically strong, rational, realize they have choices 2) help clients clarify what they want in life - vital for persons to be aware of life goals if they are to act responsibly 3) make a plan.... also focus on behavior and the present.

model of reality-therapy (cbt)

WDEP model


(reality) wants, direction, evaluation, planning and commitment

limitations of Reality therapy

consideration not given to feelings, unconscious, and past, influence of culture and environment not taken into account, origins of behavior not considered, lack of research to establish effectiveness

Strengths and contributions of Reality Therapy

benefits are clt is responsible in evaluating behavior, change that behavior, and determine the types of behavior to be changed, clt is the catalyst in making specific plans, forming contracts for action and evaluating success of the actions, emphasis is accountablility, structure to evaluate the degree and nature of the changes effected, short-term clear and simply understood therapy that is applicable to different situations and all clients

strengths & contributions of cbt

benefits are that clg is brief, practice is emphasized, clts ability to control destiny, dialogue helps clt to change behavior, clts accept responsibility, good for crisis situations

limitations of cbt

reason for irrational beliefs is not explored, clt of low intelligence might not understand dialogue, clr could impose personal views, emotional issues are nto explored

existential therapy

Created by V. Frankl people as the author of their lives, experiential and philosophical, focuses on freedom, isolation, death, choices, and meaninglessness

assumption of existential therapy

we are free and therefore responsible for our actions and the results of those actions and choices, authors of our lives not the victims of circumstances

goals of existential therapy

help clts become aware they are free to expand this awareness to increase options on the basis of their freedom to choose other options, accept responsibility of those choices to recognize the factors that hinder their freedom to choose, and become all they are capable of being

Strengths and contributions of existential therapy

benefits are clt-clr relastionship is based on the humanity of the ind, stresses continued human growth, focuses on issues important to attaining life satisfaction through choices

limitations of existential therapy

lack of systematic procedure, concepts are difficult to comprehend, no scientific research, lower functioning clts, those in crisis, and others may not benefit

existential therapists

Frankl, Yalom, May

founder of person-centered / Humanistic Theories

Carl Rogers

assumption of person-centered therapy

ind have internal resources to work toward wholeness and self-actualization and can move forward constructively on their own

goal of person-centered therapy

center around client as a person, not problem. assist ppl w learning how to cope - help clnt become fully functioning person - no need for defense mechanisms - more open to experience. Client helped to identify, use and integrate their own potential & resources.

clr role in person-centered therapy

create an atmosphere of empathy, acceptance, warmth, and caring, unconditional positive regard, congruence (genuineness)

three characteristics of clr for person-centered therapy

1) genuineness, 2) unconditional positive regard, 3) empathic understanding

contributions of person-centered therapy

clr is not an expert providing advice, relationship-centered rather than technique-centered, clt assumes responsibility for the direcition of the therapy, person needs to account for his inner experience research validated

limitation of person-centered therapy

this approach depends on bright, insightful, hard-working clients for best results. It ignores diagnosis, the unconscious - might be overly optimistic. Only deals with surface issues - doesn't encourage deeper explorations.


(pct) counselor demonstrate true genuineness

humanistic psychology

(pct) movement emphasizing freedom, choice, values, growth, self-actualization, becoming, spontatneity, creativity, play, humor, and psychological health

nondirective counseling

(pct) clt is the one who knows himself and should not be in the passive role, clt leads therapy


(pct) discrepancy between self-concept and ideal self-concept and the experience of anxiety and awareness of the existence of a problem

personal power

clr to be aware his feelings. needs, and values in order to not attempt to control the clt but allow the clt to tap into their own source of self-direction


development of one's potential and the basis of people being trusted to resolve their own problems in a therapeutic relationship

Gestalt Therapy view of human nature

human beings work for wholeness/completeness in life. We have self-actualizing tendency. Centred in the present. Persons are more than the sum of their parts. NOW is what really matters.

gestalt theory says that the most frequent cause of unfinished business is


Goals of gestalt therapy

emphasis on here and now, recognition of IMMEDIACY of experience, helping client resolve past to become integrated. Coming together of emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects and acceptance of polarities within the person

Strengths & contributions of Gestalt therapy

de-emphasizing the intellectualizations of problems, a brief therapy which works with past to recognize past, works with dreams to increase awareness of unconscious, focuses on experiencing rather than just talking about the problems, can be used in groups, schools and classrooms, workshops and in counseling sessions

limitations of Gestalt therapy

little theoretical underpinnings, ignores cognitive factors, clr can direct therapy, lack of research


(gestalt) cnslr points to client's incongruent behaviors and feelings - asking what and how questions

Empty Chair

(gestalt) client talks to various parts of their personality in the empty chair such as the part that is dominant/passive to deal with dichotomies within the self.

projection (gestalt)

disowning the parts of ourselves and blaming them on the environment

Fritz Perls

Founded Gestalt Therapy and popularized it both through his flamboyant personality and his writings.


centred in the present, it is the process of being what one is and not a process of striving to become.

Top Dog (Gestalt)

what one thinks one should do

Underdog (Gestalt)

what one wants to do.

Modelling (Behavioral)

people acquire new knowledge and behavior by observing other people and events without engaging in the behavior themselves and wihtout any direct consequences to themselves - ie. does not require active participation.

Reinforcers (Behavioral)

those events that, when they follow a behavior, increase the probability of the behavior repeating. These may either be positive or negative.

Extinction (Behavioral)

elimination of a behavior because of a withdrawal of its reinforcement. Few individuals will continue doing something that is not rewarding.

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