Personal Theory of Counseling
Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories
Today, the majority of counselors and therapists operate from an integrative standpoint; that is, they are open to “various ways of integrating diverse theories and techniques” (Corey, 2009b, p. 449). In fact, a survey in Psychotherapy Networker (2007) found that over 95% of respondents proclaimed to practice an integrative approach (cited in Corey, 2009b, p. 449). Corey (2009a; 2009b) explains that no one theory is comprehensive enough to attend to all aspects of the human – thought, feeling, and behavior. Therefore, in order to work with clients on all three of these levels, which Corey (2009b) asserts is necessary for the therapy to be complete, one must use a combination of various approaches that focus on each of these facets of the human psyche (p. 11).
As previously explained, Corey (2010) stresses the importance of an integrative approach. At the beginning of this course, I agreed wholeheartedly with this assertion. However, I have come to believe that the counselor’s theoretical orientation should depend less on the counselor and more on the client. It has been a prevalent theme throughout everything I have read that certain clients and certain issues respond to certain treatments and that theoretical orientation is not as important as the quality of the relationship between the counselor and client (Corey, 2009a; Corey, 2009b). I hope to develop a working knowledge of as many approaches as possible since I believe different people and issues will respond best to different approaches. In my opinion, it is not up to me to decide what is best for the client. Ideally, I will be able to select the theoretical approach from which I work with a client based on that client’s unique culture, personality, and needs.
After coming to this realization, I found that I was leaning toward the practice of technical eclecticism, or, more simply, picking the correct techniques and treatment approaches for each individual client based on the person and the problem (Corey, 2009b). Although Corey (2009b) warns against adopting this approach, it is what makes the most sense to me. To develop my own personal integrative theory of counseling, I will start with a thorough, working knowledge of four approaches: psychodynamic, existential, cognitive-behavioral, and feminist. I will also strive to gain as deep an understanding as possible of all other current theories.
I believe everyone is different. Not only because of how social and cultural factors have impacted development, but also because of how each person’s unique personality has led them to react to those influences. For example, two people that experience the same traumatic childhood event, physical abuse, for example, will likely respond to it in very different ways. One may suffer severe psychological issues throughout life as a result, while the other may go on to thrive and the psychological trauma will be minimal. While reading the diverse theories presented in this course, I could understand where each one was coming from and believe that each theory probably applies to a group of people. For example, some people are very focused on finding the meaning of life and figuring out their purpose while others are more concerned with setting and achieving goals. For an individual like the former example, an existential approach would be appropriate, whereas for the latter, cognitive behavioral therapy would be more suitable. Lazarus asserts that to effectively serve a diverse clientele with a wide range of problems a counselor must be “flexible and versatile” (Corey, 2009b, p. 456). Lazarus also proposes that different people will respond better to different types of counselors (e.g. directive vs. non-directive, warm and accepting vs. confrontational) (p. 458). He even goes further to suggest that clients need the counselor to play different roles and present...
References: Corey, G. (2009a). Case approach to counseling and psychotherapy (7th ed.). Belmont, CA:
Corey, G. (2009b). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA:
Corey, G., & Haynes, R. (2005). Integrative counseling. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Remley, T. P., Jr., & Herlihy, B. (2010). Ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling (3rd
ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Pearson Education.
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