Review the Psychoanalytic Case Conceptualization Example found in this week’s Learning Resources and use this document to prepare your initial Discussion post.
Select one of the case studies presented in this week’s Learning Resources, and answer the following points as if you were a person-centered counselor. Use your Learning Resources and the notes you took on language and technique from the person-centered expressive arts therapy video to support your conceptualization and integrate examples from the case to support your post. Include the following:
Presenting Problem
Treatment Goals
Identification and explanation of at least two techniques and interventions
Expected Outcome

Here is a YouTube link to a part of the video (Producer). (2008c). Person-centered expressive arts therapy

COUN 6722/6301S: Theories of Counseling Case Studies

Dale is a 52-year-old White man who works as a prison guard in Arizona and was referred to counseling because he has had multiple verbal and physical altercations at work with inmates. In the past month, Dale has been involved in two physical altercations with prisoners, both of which were caused by Dale calling prisoners by racist names. Based on his work behavior, his supervisor referred him to counseling as a condition of his continued employment. Dale does not want to be in counseling, as he does not think that he needs to change anything, but he has attended the first session in order to maintain his employment.
Dale was a police officer for 18 years and was terminated from the police force due to racial profiling and his inability to work collaboratively with his minority colleagues. After termination, he served as a bouncer at a local bar for 4 years but quit to pursue a job with higher income and medical benefits for his painful rheumatoid arthritis. Dale has worked in the prison system for 2½ years.
Dale has been married twice. He was married to his first wife for 6 years and had one son from that marriage who is currently 21 years old. His son was raised primarily by his ex-wife, and Dale saw him on holidays and for 2 weeks during the summer. Dale no longer has contact with his son. Dale broke contact after his son brought home a Latina girlfriend; Dale states that the “Mexicans and Blacks are taking over his country but won’t take over his family.” Dale describes his ex-wife as a “lying whore” who he believes had multiple affairs during the marriage while he worked long hours as a police officer. He says she denies these accusations, but Dale says that “you can’t really trust women.” He also thinks she did a “terrible job” raising their son, and he described his son as a “big baby.”
Dale has been married to his second wife, Anne, for 3 years. Anne works as a clerk at a grocery store in their small town. Anne does not have any children. Dale describes Anne as politically and socially “ignorant” and “very religious.” He says he trusts Anne because of her religious beliefs and that she is afraid to go to hell for sinning. Dale states that it is Anne’s religious beliefs that allow him to trust her not to be like most women who have affairs, spend their husband’s money, and lie a lot. He states she “knows her place” as his “property” and doesn’t disagree with him. Dale was raised by his mother in a rural community where he was the eldest of four children; his views mirror those of his father, a man who worked as a laborer to support his family.
Dale states that he seeks out people who oppose his views so that he can try to convince them that the U.S.A. is a country for White, English speaking people only. When asked about this view, Dale shares that he grew up in extreme poverty and that “the lazy Blacks and Mexicans” got services and support while he had to “pull myself up by the bootstraps” to get to the middle class. Dale did not adopt extreme anger about these views until he started working in the prison, where many of the inmates are Black Americans and/or Hispanic Americans.
Mike is a 14-year-old Asian American male who lives in Virginia with his parents and two sisters (Abby, 18, and Leesa, 20), who are now attending a nearby university. Mike’s family immigrated to the US when Mike was 9 years old so that his dad could better support their family as a working engineer. Mike’s mother works from home as a part-time booking agent and takes great pride in caring for their household. Mike’s math teacher referred him to counseling services because Mike is withdrawn and his grades are falling.
Mike presents as meek and quiet-spoken. He rarely speaks unless spoken to and his responses are concise yet thorough. Mike reports that he is close with his mother and sisters, as they are gentle and supportive. Mike states that his dad pressures him to earn As and is angry with Mike for adopting a “lazy American teenager attitude” and not appreciating the efforts his family has made to ensure Mike’s success. Mike reports that his father is often verbally abusive toward him, so Mike spends most of his time alone in his bedroom to avoid his dad’s angry lectures. Mike’s dad accuses his wife of promoting Mike’s “lazy American attitude” and threatens to kick Mike out of the house if he does not bring home stronger grades. Mike feels responsible for the tension in their house, and he is glad to come to counseling if it will help his family.
Mike is an average student, with a 3.0 GPA. Mike’s classmates often tease him, call him derogatory names, and push him when teachers are not looking. Mike reports that he is often fearful and anxious in school and does not really have friends there, but he does have a 17-year-old male friend who works on cars with Mike, and the two of them talk about opening an automotive shop together. Mike’s car buddy dropped out of high school, and Mike’s dad disapproves of this relationship, thinking it is leading Mike away from his family and cultural values. Mike states that he wants to honor his family but has no interest in the professions his dad wants him to pursue, and he struggles with the classes that lead in those directions. Thus, Mike feels inadequate much of the time.
Deidre is a 21-year-old African American and Latina female who is currently a college sophomore, working part-time as a barista in a coffee shop to help pay her way. She is the only child of an African American father (now deceased) and her Latina mother. Deidre lives in a dormitory on campus about three hours away from her mother near New York City. Recently, due to having chronic headaches and feeling “lost and alone,” Deidre sought help from a medical doctor who observed her to be tired, anxious, and tense, and referred her to counselor because he could find no physical cause for her headaches.
Deidre’s parents divorced when she was 11 and she lived primarily with her mother after the divorce. Deidre has had a contentious relationship with her mother, who has diabetes, is “moody,” emotionally unpredictable, and tends to complain endlessly to Deidre about how poorly her life has turned out. Deidre stated that she believes her mother “drove her father away” with her negative moods and that she is concerned about her own moods and is worried about becoming like her mother. Deidre spent most of her childhood and teen years in her room, where she felt protected from her mother’s unpredictable moods.
Deidre’s father died suddenly from a heart attack when she was 15. She described her father as being very quiet and relaxed. When her parents were married, Deidre remembers her father sitting in a chair reading and not reacting to her mother’s moods. When Deidre spent summers with her father, she reported feeling close to him even though they did not talk much, but she appreciated how “calm” his house was.
Although an above average student in high school, Deidre was quiet and withdrawn with very few close friends and was not involved in any extracurricular activities at all. She credits her high school counselor with helping her work through her grief after losing her father and encouraging her to go on to college after earning scholarships and loans.
During her intake session, Deidre reported that she has not made many friends at college, misses her father’s presence in her life, and is confused about choosing a major or any clear career path. She somewhat hesitated when relating that, at 18, after becoming pregnant during a party at a friend’s house and not knowing who the father was, she chose to have an abortion. Now she admits that she often has dreams about who her child might have been and how “different—in a good way” her life might be if she had carried the child to term and had become a mother.
She expresses that she would like help sorting out her many issues and wonders if there is any hope for her to have a good life.
Jason is a 38-year-old Jewish Caucasian male. He grew up on the east coast, and his entire family still lives there. He owns a successful law practice and specializes in commercial real estate property law. Jason came to counseling reporting that he has been “feeling severely depressed.” In the first session, he shared feelings of loneliness, despair, and isolation, and he frequently cried. During the session, he shared that he works 60–80 hours a week, as work keeps him sane.
Jason responded to questions about his social support system by saying he feels “respected in the Jewish community” and finds the weekly religious services to be “comforting and consoling.” After further inquiry about his close relationships and the possibility of intimacy in his life, Jason replied he had been in several romantic relationships before, however now he’s not in “any kind of committed relationship.”
In the second session, Jason presented as pale, sweaty, and repeatedly bounced his leg. He started the session by speaking quickly and sharing that he has been romantically involved for a year with Kevin, a 36-year-old who identifies as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (previously nicknamed “Mormons”). Jason reported that they have gone to great lengths to keep the relationship a secret, as its disclosure would have a “devastating” effect on his and Kevin’s professional, religious, and social statuses. Jason fears he would be rejected by his community, his peers, and his clients if his relationship was discovered. He indicated that his Rabbi “should never hear about it.”
Jason stated that he found out yesterday that Kevin “betrayed him.” He stated that Kevin has been spending time on the Internet, accessing porn sites, and participating in sexually explicit chats. Jason also reported that there has been a lack of affection between the two of them over the past few months, which “drove” Jason to his depression. According to Jason, Kevin’s “online affairs” have driven them apart.
Jason shared that his relationship with Kevin gave his life meaning and purpose. Jason stated that he doesn’t want to “lose Kevin, but I don’t know how or even if we can work through all our issues.” Jason reported having nightmares about finding Kevin in bed with another man and being forced to wear a pink triangle on his sleeve while his family, friends, and colleagues pointed and yelled slurs at him. Jason reported that his work is suffering and that he wants to cry “all the time.” Jason asks his counselor to help “take away the pain.”
Olivia is 15 years old and lives with her father, Luis (age 40), her younger sisters, Catrina (7) and Elena (9), and her brother Sancho (11). Olivia’s mother, an Irish American woman, and her father met and married after Luis moved from Honduras to the US mainland, but their marriage ended when Luis’s wife, Sinead, chose to pursue a new romantic relationship and abandoned the family. Olivia’s mother has had little contact with her children since she left when Olivia was 9 and a year after Catrina was born. Sinead sends birthday and Christmas cards from different places where she is living and working as a traveling nurse. Although she makes good money, she pays no child support, nor does she pay spousal support although she makes twice as much money as Luis.
Olivia’s father, Luis, works two jobs to make ends meet. He is a full-time truck driver on weekdays (having to leave for work before his children are awake) and does maintenance for a retirement center on weekends to support his family. The family rents an apartment, and Luis struggles to manage his family’s living expenses due to rising costs. Olivia assumes much of the responsibility for housework and caring for her siblings because her father is often working away from home. Luis is proud that Olivia can manage so many household duties and tells Olivia she is fulfilling a vital role now and in her future as a wife and mother.
Olivia has been referred to you due to her failing grades and school attendance issues. Olivia has begun to struggle in her classes at school and has missed many days because she is often tired and unfocused. When in school, Olivia is very quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t have many friends. When asked about her performance, she tells her teachers that she worries constantly about her siblings and tries to help them with their homework and learning while keeping up with cooking, cleaning and laundry duties at home. She says that she feels like a disappointment to her teachers and is sad about this. Olivia says she would like to become a veterinarian but does not see how she will ever be able to attend college because of her father’s expectations for her both in the home and the future. Olivia enjoys reading about the animals of the world in the evenings when her chores are done. Olivia shares that she misses her mother, and she has not seen or talked to here since she left 6 years ago. Although she is proud to be able to help her family, she wishes she had more friends her own age at school and feels as though she has taken her mother’s place at home. She says she does not dare to dream about her future because it seems so bleak.

Case Conceptualization
Theory/Theorist: Name your theory (Adlerian, Person-Centered, Gestalt, Family systems, etc.—-pick one according to the directions in class)
Presenting Problem: Describe the client (name, age, gender, ethnicity, family, etc.) and the client’s issues in terms of how you perceive problems/issues (e.g., client exhibited symptoms of anxiety – pressured speech, tense features, agitated or restless). Be sure to include contributing factors.
Hypothesis: Explain why the client is experiencing these problems. If you see client as socially disconnected (indicating low social interest) from an Adlerian view, explain the evidence for this from the details in the case study. If you are posting for person-centered, provide evidence from the case that suggests the client is living incongruently. Be sure to always relate how you see the client to the features of the theory.
Goal: Explain your goal for your client in terms of the theory you are using. In other words, what would an Adlerian counselor want to see happen for the client and why? Be sure to cite your reference(s). For example, an Adlerian counselor might want to encourage the client to engage in a lifestyle that meets their social needs; whereas a person-centered counselor might want to see clients live congruently.
Interventions: List a minimum of two intervention from the approach you have chosen (outlined in readings), explain each intervention and why it might be useful in meeting goals.
• Intervention 1: Explain your method (and cite your source) and why it would be useful for your client in meeting goals

• Intervention 2: Explain your method (and cite your source) and why it would be useful for your client in meeting goals

Expected Outcome: The goal of xxxxx therapy is . . .. . Explain what outcome(s) you hope to achieve for your client using the interventions above. Support your thoughts with citations from our textbook and/or other resources.
References: List your references here. See Doc Sharing on proper citing and referencing. Remember you must cite and reference the chapter author(s) NOT the editors of our textbook.
Copy and paste your conceptualization into the Discussion Board. Do not use a title page and do not attach the document. Your post must be able to be easily seen in the Discussion Board. Delete these instructions. Thank you.

Case Conceptualization
Case of Deidre – Psychoanalytic Theory
Presenting Problem: Deidre, a 21-year-old college sophomore of mixed African American and Latina heritage, was referred by her medical doctor for symptoms of anxiety. She has no siblings. Her parents divorced when she was 11 and she reported a stormy relationship with her “moody” mother. Her father was a calming presence in her life but died suddenly 6 years ago of a heart attack. Deidre reported that she has not made many friends at college, misses her father’s presence in her life, and is confused about choosing a major or any clear career path. At 18, she became pregnant during a party at a friend’s house and not knowing who the father was, she chose to have an abortion. She now often has dreams about this and wonders how different her life might have been if she had become a mother. She worries if she can have a good future.
Hypothesis: Deidre’s anxiety is rooted in her early childhood experiences, her lack of secure attachment to her mother, the sudden death of her father, and her abortion. Much of her distress comes from unconscious struggles as her ego tries to balance her instinctual drives (her id) and her superego (Johnson & Zazzarino, 2022). Deidre’s defense mechanisms of repression, avoidance, and rationalization help cope with questions about her decision when she was 18. This is an unconscious attempt to bolster her fragile ego, likely linked to her early childhood experiences, her father’s death, her guilty feelings, and fear of her uncertain future.
Goals: The primary goal for Deidre is to increase awareness of unconscious drives and past experiences (Johnson & Zazzarino, 2022) as related to her anxiety, feelings of guilt, and worry about her future. Bringing deeply buried feelings and thoughts into consciousness will allow them to be examined and worked through helping Deidre build insight.
Free Association: Deidre will be encouraged to state any thoughts or feelings that come to mind in response to a word prompt, without having these censored. The goal is not to uncover specific memories but uncover patterns of thought. Then, she will be assisted to analyze the underlying unconscious feelings associated with these disclosures (Johnson & Zazzarino, 2022).
Analysis of Resistance: When Deidre unconsciously reacts to keep unpleasant or perceived negative experiences hidden by changing the topic, refusing to respond, or giving up on counseling, her resistance will be analyzed (Johnson & Zazzarino, 2022). These behaviors indicate that she is unconsciously trying to avoid threatening thoughts or feelings. These acts interfere with the ability to accept changes that could lead to a more satisfying life. Deidre will be encouraged to consider what these thoughts and feelings might be as well as how they are an important influence on the client’s mental health (Psychoanalytic theory and approaches, n.d.).
One example of Deidre’s resistance is isolating herself as a way of coping with her anxiety.
Expected Outcomes: Deidre’s anxiety will diminish because of her increased insight into her unconscious drives. She will be empowered to make decisions based on the insight she has gained. Her id, ego and superego will be more balanced and healthier.


Johnson, A. L. & Zazzarino, A. (2022). Psychodynamic theory. In D. Capuzzi & M. D. Stauffer (Eds.), Counseling and psychotherapy: Theories and interventions (7th ed., pp. 53-72). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Psychoanalytic theory and approaches. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2018 from

Theories of Counseling
1. Introduction
Theories in counseling work to research and explain how clients are affected by the services provided by a counselor. Theories address the purpose of counseling, the role of the counselor, and the concepts the theories define and the suggestions they make in the real world. It can be said that the theories provide the basis for understanding the underlying issues of clients and providing effective therapies. Over the years, a number of theories have been propounded which provide a comprehensive understanding of counseling. The introduction is expected to provide a brief background on counseling theories and the purpose of the research, as well as develop some treatments in this area of study. This paper will seek to expound on various theories used in counseling processes with a detailed analysis of each theory, discussing key concepts and possible strategies that can be applied through such theory. The paper also examines different expert opinions about counseling theories and, for the purpose of satisfactory research, tries to establish a link between the importance of counseling research and professional excellence in the area of counseling. In general, it is hoped that the introduction will develop readers’ interest in the importance of theories in counseling practices and the significance of this field of study. The paper will provide essential counseling theories that have significantly affected learning in this area and analyze the differences in principles and techniques from each theory in the field of study. The paper also provides research on how to apply counseling theories to clients. Moreover, the critiques of counseling theories and the future development of counseling research are well discussed, highlighting the need for this kind of studies in the field of counseling. It can be concluded that currently, there are professional licenses being taught in the area of counseling, which include both theoretical and applied content for counselor education. Theoretical studies in counseling involve students in the critical examination of the many theories of human and personal development and the counseling process. On the other hand, the work that is done in the form of internships through field experience or one’s in-service is considered applied counseling research.
1.1 Background of Counseling Theories
The roots of rehabilitation counseling are in both vocational guidance and social work. Frank Parsons, a proponent of vocational guidance, is often recognized as the individual who originated the counseling movement with the foundation of the Vocation Bureau in Boston in 1908. The Bureau was established as a means for collecting and providing occupational materials and helping individuals make a vocational selection with the idea of finding a life work to which they are best adapted (Hoyt, 1981, p. 175). However, vocational rehabilitation counseling did not become more widely recognized until the 1930s with the creation of the Social Security Act and the subsequent federal grants to states for vocational rehabilitation services. This allowed increased numbers of individuals seeking vocational rehabilitation services to be served as well as giving credibility to the discipline. Around this same time, there were two key books published which greatly influenced the counseling profession. Jesse B. Davis’ “Vocational and Moral Guidance” and Clifford W. Beers’ “A Mind That Found Itself” both emphasized the client and the individuality of the counselor-client relationship, marking the beginning of the end of the dominance of the “clinical” theory of human services over more humanistic models (Isaacs & Luft, 1983, p. 16) and served to further the idea of counseling theory as having both a psychological and social emphasis. Even with these advancements, the counseling movement as it is known today did not truly gain momentum until after WWII. Returning veterans with both physical and psychological disabilities prompted the establishment of “specialized national rehabilitation programs” (Isaacs & Luft, 1983, p. 332) and allowed functional guidance clinics to begin appearing. These vocational counseling clinics greatly contributed to the professionalization of the field and rehabilitation counseling and today’s clinics, known as the “growth center of rehabilitation” (Isaacs & Luft, 1983, p. 332), have been formed as a continuation of this movement.
1.2 Purpose of the Research Paper
Since “Theories of Counseling” is a research about the different theoretical approaches used in counseling, the main purpose of this research is to find out what the different theoretical approaches are and why and how counselors today are using such theoretical approaches in their practices. There are five major theoretical approaches covered in this research. They are Psychodynamic Theory, Cognitive Behavioral Theory, Humanistic Theory, Existential Theory, and Eclectic Integration. Each of the theories will be explained in detail, and this aids in fulfilling the second objective, which is to critically discuss and compare the features of different counseling theoretical models. As it is important for each counseling session, the counselor requires an understanding of the purpose of counseling and what is expected in his or her clinical work. The later part of the research will focus on how counseling practices have been influenced by the big five theoretical approaches. It will also apply in practice, and any ethical considerations will be highlighted. It is hopeful that after this research, readers can have a clear picture in understanding how these theories come about and how these theories have been integrated into clinical practices. Also, readers can gain insights in understanding the commonalities and differences among these theoretical models. This can further develop readers’ critical thinking ability because readers will be able to think from different perspectives. Last but not least, it is hopeful that readers can apply how a counseling theory comes to inform a counselor’s clinical understandings and practices.
2. Major Theoretical Approaches
As one of the oldest theoretical approaches, the psychodynamic theory is the most comprehensive in approach. This theory is based on the assumption that an individual is aware of, or can be made aware of, the internal processes. It is believed that the root of a person’s internal forces, the way in which a person moves through life, and the reasons a person runs into conflict can be traced back in the childhood or through life experience. Psychologists also use this theory to help the patients understand how their problems were founded and brought throughout their life periods. The primary foundation of psychodynamic theory is that psychological phenomenon and the mental well-being is a reflection of inner conflict. In addition, the cognitive-behavioral theory has been widely used by the counseling psychologist because it observes the human’s behavior with the premises of observability, measurability and frequency. It is based on the assumption that our behaviors are caused by the way we think, what we feel, and by the way we feel that is what we want compared to the situational events and environment. Well, this theory is used by the counseling psychologists to observe the patient’s behavior. An example of how this theory can be employed is when looking at the spread of depression symptoms as we age. This study investigated how the symptoms of depression occurring between age 15 to 39 would likely influence the chances of the individuals showing symptoms again through the subsequent years. A sample study on elderly individual was used to examine the spread of symptom which was found to support the cognitive-behavioral theory. This is because its result showed that a higher level of equilibrium or movement toward the depressive or the mania poles was predicted as the age progressed and such experiences will have much longer period in accumulating symptoms of depression. Later years would have more factors that reinforce thought like fatigue, chronic illnesses, isolation, or other stressors. However, the largest support was found in theories that are applied in counseling settings such as individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, and school counseling is also examined. Furthermore, the paper presents critiques of counseling theories and discusses their limitations. Overall, “Theories of Counseling” provides an overview of different theoretical approaches, their applications, and potential criticisms and limitations.
2.1 Psychodynamic Theory
Freud believed that dreams were part of the patients’ unconscious mind and important in the process of revealing some of the repressed motives. Counselors who use psychodynamic theory interpret the manifest content of a patient’s dream as the actual contents of the dream while the latent content is the hidden contents of the dream. Some of the techniques used in psychodynamic therapy include free association, interpretation of dreams, and analysis of resistance as well as transference. Free association involves the patient talking freely about themselves and their feelings, allowing the unconscious mind to let out repressed feelings. Interpretation of dreams involves the process of identifying the latent content of a patient’s dreams and this would give some clues to the patient’s repressed motives. Patients on psychoanalytic counseling are made to go through all the stages, instead of just turning up for some advice. Freud claimed that if a patient doesn’t go through all the stages of therapy, then their psychotic problems would worsen. He proposed a set of stages a patient should pass and called this “development theory”. Freud believed that adult behaviors are rooted in childhood experiences and actions are as a result of the automatic dispatch of psychic energy yet the impact of early life experiences and motivation may be unknown to the individual but could be revealed in the relationships with other significant people in the present day. He also believed that the mind continuously tries to reduce psychic tension and this may generate some kind of hidden feelings which people are unaware of in their mind.
Psychodynamic theory also assumes that every human being has some level of psychic energy that is invested in different activities including work, play, and rest. Freud proposed that this energy is generated by the basic drives. In counseling, psychodynamic therapy involves the process of exploring the patient’s past experiences and their unconscious mind in order to reveal the underlying causes of the patient’s current behaviors. The counselor will create an environment where the patient can feel free to release any negative, harmful feelings. Patients are encouraged to talk about their past experiences including their childhood life as well as their feelings. The main aim of the therapy is to uncover the patient’s unconscious motives so that they can understand and control their behaviors.
Psychodynamic theory, also known as psychoanalytic counseling, is one of the major theoretical approaches in counseling. Psychodynamic theory was first developed by Sigmund Freud, a famous neurologist from Austria. According to the theory, human behaviors and feelings are immensely affected by unconscious motives. Counselors who use psychodynamic theory are able to interpret a patient’s unconscious life in order to reveal the motives which lie behind their behaviors.
2.2 Cognitive-Behavioral Theory
The founder of cognitive behavioral theory is Aaron T. Beck. Unlike experimental psychology, cognitive therapists are more concerned with individual thoughts and emotions. Beck developed his cognitive theory by working with patients with a diagnosis of depression. Depressed patients are in a state Beck referred to as “automatic thoughts”. These automatic thoughts are negative and destructive. They are found just below the surface of everyday normal emotions. They are constantly present in our minds just waiting to be activated. Beck believed that these thoughts can pick up instantly at any time, however over a period of time the brain starts thinking negatively automatically. Beck identified 11 cognitive characteristics of patients with depression. These were used to diagnose the severity of the patient’s illness. This list has been classified as the “Beck Depression Inventory”. Cognitive Behavioral Theory explains how people can use cognitive processes to help them change their behavior. Beck’s cognitive triad can be used to explain how an individual can start to feel depressed. It explains that someone has negative thoughts about themselves, their world, and their future. These negative thoughts can then affect the way an individual feels and behaves towards themselves and anyone around them. Beck states that the cognitive theory was partly influenced by two old ideas. Firstly, that repeated behaviors can become automatic and secondly, the Stoic philosophers’ idea that people are disturbed by their view of the world, not the actual world itself. Beck believed that his patients were sick as a result of their perceptual reality. That is, the problem lies in witnessing their environment. Therefore, changing this environment will then change the way people have to get better.
2.3 Humanistic Theory
The counseling that adopts this approach is known as “person centered counseling” and it is important to note that the two are not the same. Person centered counseling is usually considered the best example of the humanistic approach in action.
The humanistic theory is a very positive and optimistic approach to counseling. However, it does not account for all aspects of human behavior and this is where it receives its main criticisms. Firstly, humanistic theory is very subjective as it can be based on individual opinions. Therefore, it is difficult to critically compare and contrast theories and empirical evidence as the reported data may simply be based upon personal assumptions and bias. Secondly, the humanistic approach is not scientific. It is often described as the “third force” in psychology emerging after psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Nevertheless, most psychologists do not consider the humanistic approach as a science in regard to the other theories. This is because the data collected is based on the subjective opinion or observations of individuals.
The role of the humanistic counselor is to help the client achieve a state of congruence or a complete realization of their sense of self. This involves an open and honest relationship between the counselor and the client, known as genuineness. The counselor must also demonstrate a non-judgmental acceptance and understanding of the client’s feelings, known as unconditional positive regard. The final component of the humanistic relationship is that the counselor must show empathy for the client’s experiences and feelings. Through the use of these three elements, self-exploration and self-acceptance can be achieved.
In order for a person to achieve their goals and desires, they must have a positive self-concept and feel that they are fundamentally good and worthwhile. A key concept within humanistic theory is that of the “fully functioning person”. This term is used to describe a person who is in touch with their deepest and innermost feelings and desires. He or she is able to recognize and understand their true potential and is comfortable with their level of existence.
Humanistic psychology, which is associated with theorists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, rose to prominence in the mid-20th century in response to the limitations of the psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral theories. According to humanistic theory, people have free will and are capable of making active and positive choices in their lives. This is referred to as the actualizing tendency. Humanistic theory emphasizes the importance of self-actualization, which is the process of a person striving to reach their fullest potential.
2.4 Existential Theory
Existential theory highlights the limitations of human existence and accentuates the isolation and forlornness an individual might experience in his life. According to this theory, existence is greater than what can be material in known reality. Hence, the primary purpose of human existence is exactly that – real existence that transcends theoretical and physical realms. Practically, existentialist thinkers sight what we have created, what we want, and what our dreams are compared to the practical position of something. The focus of therapy is on the self-discovery of the patient and the responsibility for self-decision making, leading to a true and honest way of living. The therapist, in turn, explores and raises the awareness of the patient in his/her freedom of choice and opportunities, as well as dangers, in the decision-making process. Existential therapy does not converge solely on the diminishment of symptoms, as do many other kinds of therapy, but ardently focuses its attention on the patient’s journey of ‘facing choice’ and acquiring a better understanding of his/her uniqueness in living. For anybody that needs to experience the unnecessary suffering in life, he/she could seek meaning, be it the only thing that he could definitively obtain in his life. The key features of existential therapy discussed above form the theoretical assumptions and practical approach in the therapeutic process. The therapy is not a ‘quick-fix’ option and mainly it is related to a self-help orientation; that is, to make life better, we have to take the challenge upon ourselves and not just relying on medical or therapeutic support. Rather than a problem of what to do if fully defeated by a mental illness, in existentialism, we consider what is right and morally good in the process of making choices of intervention.
3. Application of Counseling Theories
Counselors apply the theories of counseling through a series of activities that are designed to help clients learn to express themselves and understand the world around them. Counseling is a method of teaching that helps students to learn the strengths and limitations that appear in the theory by using them in practical situations. Theories can give counselors some indication of why people do what they do, as well as how best to help them. However, there is no guarantee that a theory-based approach will actually help people to make positive changes in their lives. “It’s important to remember that no theory is 100% correct,” explains Robert Todd, a licensed counselor in Nebraska. “Theories are not ‘truth’–they are the best guess at the time as to what supports the most logical explanation for why and how people function as they do. As a counselor,” Todd believes that it’s important to always test the theory against real-world experiences and be willing to adjust and learn. In individual counseling, many counselors will practice what is called integrated eclecticism, which is the use of techniques from different theoretical backgrounds, based on what the counselor feels will work best for the client. For example, a counselor might draw successfully from both person-centered counseling and cognitive-behavioral counseling, as each provides a valuable emphasis on the individual’s feelings and the need to be self-aware and the importance of changing the cognitive processes and what that might lead to in behavior changes. The reality, however, is that most of the time one theory will generally be the dominant approach and it is likely to be in line with the counselor’s own beliefs and training. Unlike individual counselors, group counselors will apply counseling theories that promote the development of a cohesive group that is focused on the best interests of all members. This approach draws heavily from the beliefs established by such theorists as Alfred Adler, who promoted the idea that healthy individuals and healthy families are best nurtured when they are in a community. The overall objective in group counseling is to give members the opportunity to enhance and learn from their experiences by sharing with others in the group. This ties in well with a counseling theory that is known as the common factors approach. This dictates that the structure and makeup of the therapy group itself is the main healing component. However, it’s also accepted that members gain the most benefit from the help that they give to each other, the positive help that is given by the group counselor, and the climate of trust and support that is allowed to grow within the group. Research shows that counseling has positive effects on the individual and is an effective way to help each person through the process of change. This is true for group as well as individual counseling because theory-based practice can only function effectively if there is research to show that approaches are more than just believed to be effective. However, research must evolve to include more and more studies that examine how differences between people influence the counseling process and its outcomes, as no two people are ever going to be the same.
3.1 Individual Counseling
Each counseling session is unique because the client’s needs are unique. However, within the wide array of individual counseling, many counselors choose to focus their work around one of the main theoretical approaches, even if they do not know all the specific detailed theory. The overarching theory will dictate the focus of the session and the expected aims of the counseling. Often individual counseling is referred to as humanistic counseling, as this is the main theory that many person centered counselors will use. This is because the theory focuses on independent and free willed clients and looks at what the individual wants out of the counseling. Although individual counseling is not specifically linked to the fields of career or mental health, amongst the other areas covered in class, the theory behind the counseling can be related to them and they often overlap. For example, career counseling can be either individual or in a group and can use a variety of different theories ranging from humanistic to behavioral. On the other hand, counseling for stress could also be, similarly, individual or in a group but would use a totally different set of theories such as psychodynamic or possibly cognitive behavioral. Clients will usually attend individual counseling to resolve a problem that is preventing them from being able to live their life to the full or a problem that is causing them emotional distress. Issues such as stress, family worries, abuse, work problems or self-esteem issues are common problems that might be tackled in a session of counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy, otherwise commonly known as CBT, is a very practical and personal form of counseling that is an effective treatment for many different emotional problems and for many people. CBT is focused on helping people to acquire and utilize coping skills in order to understand and manage their problems. It aims to identify and change negative thinking patterns and to help sufferers take control of issues in their lives. Interventions are usually tailor made to individuals and will focus on the specific problem. It is suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds and can be used effectively in both a counseling and a therapy environment. This is the most current, widely used and empirically supported form of scientifically based psychotherapy. CBT is found to be effective with a wide range of difficulties such as mood, anxiety, personality, eating and psychotic disorders. It also sees the role of genetics and predisposed biological factors as an important part in dictating a person’s personality. However, it recognizes the modern day stresses and pressures, particularly in western capitalist societies, and the impact that has on an individual’s mental wellbeing.
3.2 Group Counseling
A distinctive element of group therapy is the encouragement of clients to take an active role in the session. According to Corey (2016), a major advantage of group counseling is that clients are able to learn from one another. For example, a person with social anxiety may be able to learn positive coping strategies from a peer who has similar experiences. Additionally, group counseling provides a sense of community and understanding; clients will often be able to recognize parts of themselves in others, which helps to reduce the common loneliness that many mental health sufferers experience. Furthermore, the group format often serves to provide clients with multiple feedback, not just from the counselor but from other members of the group. This can be a hugely powerful tool as personal growth often comes from our ability to receive feedback from others, and it’s because of this that group counseling is typically progressive in nature – members are not just there to receive help, they’re also providing help to their peers. However, it’s important to note that group therapy may not be suitable for everybody; people with specific individual issues such as severe anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, where one-to-one therapy is often used as a method of addressing very personal fears and anxiety, may not be as receptive to group counseling. Sessions should be tailored to the type of group, in terms of size and purpose, while ensuring that the group remains focused and everybody has the opportunity to speak if they wish. There are many different types of group therapy – for example, Corey (2016) makes reference to task groups, which are designed to help people with particular problems, such as social anxiety or addiction, accomplish a specific task. He also mentions that long-term groups, which can consist of up to a year or more of sessions, are aimed at personal growth and behavior change. My sense is that once a client has experienced the benefits of group counseling, they may find that they prefer it to individual therapy; as well as the financial advantages, the feeling of community and shared learning in my opinion appears to be a very positive method of psychological support. Additionally, the counselor may suggest that a client initially undergoes group counseling in tandem with weekly or biweekly individual sessions, in order to help better understand the client’s needs and evaluate progress.
3.3 Family Counseling
Family counseling demonstrates how the family system works and how the members interact with each other. Each of the family members is affected by the problem and may contribute to the conflict. Family counseling is often short term, usually in professional practice not more than twice as the individual therapy, but the frequent appointments to the same clients may be much more. Every member of the family benefits from counseling at the same time. The family counseling interventions may be informed by other theoretical frameworks. For example, a family counseling intervention informed by solution-focused theories could involve family members generating a list of their goals and the steps required to achieve the goal. Also, the members are encouraged to select some small goals that could be implemented even before the counseling process comes to an end. A collaborative approach is at the heart of family counseling. It means that the counselor takes the opportunities to work with the family members both collectively and individually. The relationship and communication skills are established that will be very beneficial and help to minimize future relapse. Every member learns to play a unique part in running the family. The counselor focuses the family members on the various systems within which they function, and in particular on the ‘family’ as a system in itself. So any of the family processes could be analyzed and understood as reflecting on the system; in this way, family counseling not only resolves the specific resent issue but also provides long-term preventive strategies for future conflicts. The counselor should select a method within the broad range of D.H. theory which mobilizes and promises change in the seamless high-stress state of the family, rather than expose the family system to potential regression in a situation of newly reignited or heightened hostilities between its constituent members. He advises that counselors are sensitive to the extent and duration of dissent between family members and always bearing in mind the potential for disagreement to be both a cause and an effect of changes to the power balance of the system, during the telegram and gradual process of change in family therapy. He warns that any one of the family members might be tempted, perhaps unconsciously, to use the therapeutic process as a platform from which to consolidate or extend their present relative favor, however defined, as against their family fellows and they could actually escalate the problem of dissent within the family.
3.4 School Counseling
School counselors are key components to the change element in a student’s life through the application of those theories. With this gifted understanding and open vision, people like us will have a more fulfilling life in the future. It is always worth spending time now on a better and brighter tomorrow.
The major counseling theories that are currently employed to assist children in coping with the demands of a modern and complex world are psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral (also the most popular one), and person-centered. These three major theories have introduced a wide range of techniques and potential success in providing results for the children. Such programs usually get involved with those children who are unable to cope with the demands. Psychodynamic theory focuses on the relationship between a child and the significant adults in the child’s life, and it seeks to trace the roots of the current difficulties to the earlier stage of life, that is, the unconscious mind. When working with children, the emphasis is given to the ‘id’ and ‘ego’ components of the mind, which mean the pleasure-seeking forces and reality forces, whereas cognitive-behavioral theory is a short-term, goal-oriented theory that puts focus on the current state of the client and the change that the client needs, in other words, working on the feedback from the ‘superego’, the moralizing force in the mind. Last but not least, person-centered theory has been found to be very effective in school counseling programs given the inclinations of students to the environment and the concern for their feelings. It looks at the human experience, and the cognitive-behavioral change and the core of someone’s personality. Person to counselor relationship and three core principles, namely, counselor congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy, are targeted in this kind of approach.
All students can benefit from the counseling programs and services. School counseling programs are designed to help students achieve success in school as well as in life. Theories that are applied in school counseling programs can be classified into two main categories, directive and non-directive. Directive theories focus on helping students to make choices for themselves; it also helps influence the students. Non-directive theories, on the other hand, generally rely on the ability of the student to make the right choices for themselves, and the counselor’s role is to help create an environment where the students can find their own ways. In reality, no theory falls solely into one category, and the two types of theories are usually used together in school counseling programs. For example, from the guidance perspective, it is still imperative that the counselor does not give direct advice to the students but nurtures an environment where the students can develop well.
4. Critiques and Limitations
Moving on to the final section of our research paper, we should address an important issue in the realm of counseling and psychotherapy: critiques and limitations of the counseling theories that we have discussed. Let us first take a look at some of the critiques that have been made against the counseling theories. Critics argue that the psychodynamic theory, particularly Freud’s theory, is not a scientific theory and it is not falsifiable. That means this theory cannot be proven to be incorrect. Because it is not grounded in scientific research, psychodynamic theory has been criticized as being ungeneralizable and mainly has applications to neurosis. The assumption that unconscious forces drive human behavior may not be correct as well. There are also ethical issues stemming from the psychoanalysis. It has been criticized that Freud put too much attention on the sexual motivation. Therefore some therapists may use this focus to shift the session towards sexual topics, which could lead to uncomfortable and unpleasant experiences. And if any patient becomes too open up about some sexual desires, it may cause damages to the therapy results and the clients as well. Also, clients may feel being judged or misunderstood since sexual contents have been over-interpreted. Freud as well put too much emphasis on the past experiences. He believed that unresolved conflicts from childhood will create psychological disorders in adult life. However, according to the cognitive-behavioral theory, maladaptive behaviors are problematic to therapist and it should be focused on the current behavior. Besides, some of the criticisms are about dependability and the cultural limitations. The research findings are inconsistent on whether or not the dependability of the results about counseling inform the psychodynamic model. When the counseling task divides into two conditions, the counselor independence was measured, one option was ‘depend on the pressing analysis’, the other one not. However, there are no standard tests for the dependable genanalysis and cause different counselors to act in different ways. Freud’s theory has been criticized by many of other modern psychologists to be male chauvinistic. Most of his theories are focusing on women’s id weaknesses such as women’s deeply desire to have a penis. There is no evidence for the penis envy. In his theory, Freud only describes the female sexual desire relating to the male body and this can be seen as a form of male domination. Secondly, when Freud discusses the causation of homosexuality, he talks about male homosexuality only through the oedipal experience. This view that a male child normally starts the sexual desire to the mother but cannot fulfill the wish, therefore the child views father as a rival and develops castration. This castration anxiety leads to the male grows more and more of male characteristics. The psychodynamic counseling has been criticized for its long-term nature. Offering the idea that an individual may only suffer from symbolic and unconscious intrapsychic conflict that mainly revealed in the classical symptoms of neurosis, psychodynamic counseling has never been basically validated. Some principles such as transference and resistance are discussed all the time. Opposite to Freud.
4.1 Critiques of Counseling Theories
In addition to the previous critique about the overemphasis of internal processes, too many counseling theories tend to ignore important social and individual factors that lead to the problem. They argue that theories should not just focus on why certain bad psychological conditions arise, but should also include how each condition is being carried out in everyday life. As most theories largely ignore individual and situational factors, and focus mainly on the pathologies of human behaviors, this has led to psychotherapists “blaming the victim” for their own conditions. One good example is depression. In individualistic theories, depression is always caused by some deficits in the individual’s own characteristics and these patients are “generally having low self-esteem and need to make themselves feel better about them”. However, a critical feminist perspective on depression suggests that it is not just an individual psychological state but also a result of systematic social oppression against women. From this example, critics argue that while critical feminist theory is able to provide a more comprehensive understanding of depression by incorporating social and individual factors, most individualistic theories overly simplify conditions into internal pathologies and neglect the importance of considering power dynamics in society. On the other hand, in terms of psychopathology knowledge, human sciences are always progressively advancing, and no theories can be perfectly accurate in understanding conditions due to the complexity and variation of human behaviors. Some thinkers see the main critiques on cognitive theories as their reliance and emphasis on “clinical utility” rather than critical scientific advances. In lay terms, if a theory is seen to have clinical utility, it gives us an immediate understanding or offers something that is usable to a practitioner. This could be through identifying certain symptoms of psychological maladies which, based on the theory, would indicate a particular diagnosis. However, critics argue that too much emphasis on clinical diagnoses and treatments in cognitive theories has alienated them from being innovative and seeking further scientific knowledge in psychopathology. Cognitive theories are now mainly focusing on “These are shared psychiatric classifications and so we can give a specific label” rather than “What does this set of symptoms actually tell us about the mind?” Some suggest that as theories evolve and different aspects of human behaviors are further explored with solid research studies, the current prominence of cognitive theories in psychotherapists should be limited.
4.2 Limitations of Counseling Theories
The traditional therapies focus mainly on the physical health. They tend to ignore the mental and general wellbeing of the person. This leads to limitations in the field of counseling in that, other than focusing on a particular group in society, the theories of counseling tend to be more general. The issues that are considered part of the theories include how to adapt to changes in life, how to change behaviors, and multicultural counseling. The critics of the counseling theories argue that some of the theories tend to focus on a single issue and also tend to ignore some very vital aspects of society. For example, the psychodynamic theory tends to be more general and can be applied to all of society, not just a particular group of people. This is seen as a limitation because there are those people who have been neglected by society. These include lesbians, members of the gay society, people living with disabilities, and women. This is what we call the feminist theory. The feminist theory tends to say that women have been neglected by society. This theory becomes a criticism of the psychodynamic theory and any other theory that tends to focus on the general community. The critics argue that this theory can only be used to help a small section of society, as opposed to the psychodynamic theory, which is a general theory. Another limitation is seen during the research on the effectiveness of the theories. The critics of the counseling theories argue that until the effectiveness of the theories is proven, it calls for improvement in the same. Most of the theories have been criticized for being too general in their view. For example, cognitive-behavior theory and cognitive theory tend to put more emphasis on conscious living and changing behaviors. This is seen as another limitation and criticism of the theories. This is because such theories tend to assume that the person is in a good mental state and does not have any disabilities. Such critics argue that society has been differentiated in terms of class and mental disability.

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