Counselling theory

Table of Content

In this essay I will describe key elements of Psychodynamic theory, Person-Centred theory and Cognitive-Behavioural theory. I will also identify the key differences between the above theories. I shall also describe how counselling theory underpins the use of counselling skills in practise. I will then end with my conclusion.

1.1 Key elements of psychodynamic theory
Dr Sigmud Freud (1856-1939), is the founder of the psychodynamic approach. Dr Sigmud Freud believed that childhood experiences and unconscious thoughts had an effect on people’s behaviour. Psychodynamic counselling refers to the inner most deepest unconscious traumas and conflicts of the person’s mind. According to Jacobs, 2010, p.4

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

“Psychodynamic counselling has more variations then many people realise.” Psychodynamic counselling was developed from psychoanalytic theory. Its main purpose is the client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behaviour. As a way of freud understanding people’s thoughts and motivations he introduced the idea of distinct psychosexual stages. The psychosexual stages are oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. Dr Sidmud Freud saw human behaviour as a result of give and take between three parts of the psyche (personality). The three parts are the id which is pleasure, too much of everything and instance gratification. The ego is the sensible side of us and try’s to find ways of satisfying the id in a way that the super ego will agree with, and that is also in line with reality. The super ego is the moral part of the psyche; its punitive comes from our parents, teachers and society. It uses anxiety and guilt to prevent us from acting on the id’s impulses. According to Jacobs, 2010, p.8

“Freud used the terms Id, Ego and Super-ego to illustrate his ‘map’ of the
internal relations within the psyche.” In the psychodynamic approach clients are encouraged to ‘transfer’ feelings they have toward important figures they have in their lives. Onto what they call the analyst in a process called ‘transference’. Success of this approach often depends on both the counsellor and client and how well they work together.

1.2 Describe key elements of person centred theory
Carl Ranson Rodgers (1902-1987), was the founder of the humanistic approach. Most counselling courses use Rodgers as their bases. The core conditions are the frame work of Rodger’s work. The first key element of person centred counselling is empathy. Empathy means to understand and share the feelings of another. According to Mearns and Thorne, 2007, p.64

“A state of profound contact and engagement between two people, in which each person is fully real with the other, and able to understand and value the other’s experiences at a high level”. The second key element of person centred counselling is congruence. Congruence means to be genuine and transparent for the counsellor to be themselves within a counselling relationship without putting up fronts that prevent them revealing their true self. The third key element of person centred counselling is unconditional positive regard, including prizing. This means the counsellor accepts the clients unconditionally and non-judgementally. Within the frame work of the person centred approach to counselling, the client is given the knowledge of the power and tools they already possess to take responsibility for their own lives and health. Great emphasis is placed upon the importance of the relationship between the counsellor and the client and firmly disregards the concept of the counsellor as an expert who knows all the answers to the client’s issues in life. Carl Rodgers has taught us that given the right conditions, anyone and everyone are more than capable of fulfilling their true potential, this is called self-actualising. According to Mearns and Thorne, 2007, p.49

“Empathy should not be confused with sympathy.”

1.3 Describe key elements of cognitive-behavioural theory
Aaron Temkin Beck, M.D (1921-present), developed his approach called cognitive therapy in the 1960’s. Cognitive-behavioural theory (CBT) is a kind of psychotherapeutic treatment that enables patients to comprehend the thoughts and feelings that control their behaviours. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is more frequently used to treat an extensive range of disorders such as depression and anxiety. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is widely short-term and concentrates on enabling clients to deal with very particular problems. Often six weeks to six months sessions of course depending upon the problem it is pacifically goal directed and places great weight upon self-help as a long term coping tool that the client can take away with them and successfully use. Cognitive-behavioural therapy believes that clients can learn the wrong ways of developing and making sense of information during their cognitive development. This can often lead to distortions in the way they identify reality, it’s the job of the therapist to enable them to work this out. According to Dryden, 2007, p.299

“Cognitive therapy first came to the attention of British psychologists and psychiatrists through the pioneering work of the British researchers who sought to evaluate the efficacy of Beck’s treatment for depression.” Cognitive-behavioural theory can be used on a one to one basis or in a group setting. It is said that in order for cognitive-behavioural therapy to be effective, the client needs to be ready and willing to devote time and effort analysing their thoughts and feelings.

1.4 Identify the key differences between the above theories
Cognitive-behavioural theory’s main purpose is on the awareness cause for negative behaviours has and transforming them through a course of self-help. This treatment is a brief course. Person-centred theory observes that because the clients had not been given the opportunity to experience the right conditions during development to be able to self-actualise, the clients problem branch from this. The person-centred counsellor endeavours to recreate these core conditions within a safe therapeutic relationship. This type of therapy usually lasts for a few years. One huge difference between humanistic counsellors and other therapist is that they refer to those in therapy as “clients” not patients. Psychodynamic theory is based on the concept of the relationship between the three different fabrics of the psyche “personality”, psychodynamic therapy is long term. It draws attention to the unconscious and seeks to advance the clients conscious power over their lives. The three theories have their differences for instances cognitive-behavioural therapy is a short-term therapy is usually given to clients free on the NHS and is one of the cheapest hence the reason the NHS provide it. Person-centred therapy is in the middle it cost a lot more then cognitive-behavioural therapy and the timescale for the therapy is considerably longer. Psychodynamic therapy takes a number of years and is the most expensive of the three. According to Dryden, 2010, p.78

“The therapist is confined to listening and interpreting the material brought by the client.”

2.1 How counselling theory underpins counselling skills
The backbone of counselling theory is developing a good rapport with your client. Theory gives the counsellor the professional frame work, guidance and knowledge to be able to enable their clients. This in turn gives the client the reassurance and confidence to build an effective therapeutic relationship (working alliance) with their counsellor. It ensures that a professional frame work is in place to enable the client the freedom to explore very traumatic and disturbing experiences ethically and safely. When a counsellor has a good understanding of the theory they can better provide the therapy their client deserves. They can understand their clients and their experiences comprehend why a client may behave in a certain way or feel the way they do. Having this knowledge better helps the counsellor to know what direction they should take with the material provided by the client. The task of undergoing counselling training teaches a counsellor extensive but vital significant skills for instances by using unconditional positive regard (U.P.R), you are accepting the client for who they are no matter what they may have done or said in their lives.

Accepting the client as they are good and bad traits. This is exercised by the counsellor to enable the client to establish self-regard, self-worth. Also part of the counsellors frame work is it is absolutely compulsory to take their material from their session to their supervisor. The supervisor will enable the counsellor to gain a better understanding and knowledge of their sessions and also work through any transference the counsellor maybe experiencing. Also the supervisor ensures the counsellor is able to counsel as of course the counsellor is human and maybe experiencing difficulties in their personal lives. The supervisor will ask about the theory used following the questions used at this point the counsellor is able to reflect upon their skills and theory. A counsellor will be able to understand what they are doing and able to explain their methods if they have a good concept of theory. According to Dryden, 2010, p.530

“Theory and techniques specific to the therapy approach being learned. In most types of training this is a major component but, as has been proposed, the well-educated therapist needs to consider the range of approaches.”

In my essay I have considered the three different theories. There are vital differences between the three theories but equally there are also comparability’s. The main frame work of all the theories are to enable people to change so they can understand and appreciate themselves and ultimately have power over their lives, behaviours, feeling and attitudes in all the therapies it is said that this can be accomplished through talking and self-analysing. Through writing this essay I have learnt that I would like a mix of the person-centred and psychodynamic therapy. All three theories have their worth and value and I found it fascinating learning about them more intensely. While most people would say that the issues such as finance and time would be a factor, I believe one of the main issues would also be the willingness of the client for change and self-growth.

Cite this page

Counselling theory. (2016, Jul 13). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront