Counseling Theories

Psychology aims at understanding the mental functioning of the brain, behavior of humans and the relationship between the brain function and human conduct. Counseling, on the other hand, is considered a form of therapy that is mainly focused on assisting in solving psychological troubles. Similarly to psychology, therapy also has an approach of sharing the psychological troubles with a therapist or a practitioner supporting the victim. These troubles are mainly shared verbally with a professional. In this discussion, the paper will focus on developing a comprehensive comparison and contrast between some therapy theories commonly used by psychologists. The discussion will evaluate; the psychodynamic, person-centered and cognitive behavior theories of psychotherapy. The analysis of these theories will assist in evaluating the various means of helping psychologically-troubled victims. Selection of these theories was based on personal interest, and is a means of understanding the impact of counseling psychology. In counseling, the client is given a growth climate and thereafter they are free to develop on their own. The existing characteristics of most sessions are active hearing, positive regard, empathy and being genuine.


Brief Analysis of the Therapy Theories

Person-centered therapy can be examined as one of the pioneers in the psychological field that affected the rise of new theories and techniques in the psychotherapy and counseling fields. Contemporary practice of the therapy uses a collaborative, involving and a time-based approach. This theory features a supportive approach on the way of being natural, and accounts for societal setting and a full position considering the counseling of individuals. The therapeutic theory used by many therapists has a strong focus on the belief that individuals have equal chances to experience psychological growth. It lays a condition that the psychological growth only happens if some underlying conditions allow the individuals to grow. The theory has a supportive attitude and develops a comprehensive approach towards the underlying factors that gear people towards treating others as their own. According to another point of view, this theory is based on core aspects of congruence and empathy. 

Cognitive behavior therapy is the mostly used clinical approach. It is originated from the rearrangement of the rational emotive behavior therapy, as stated by Albert Ellis. Important principles in this therapy are known to have come from Aaron Beck’s work. It brings together cognitive and behavioral theories. Therapists here work with their clients collectively to help them identify and replace twisted thoughts and ideology, eventually changing the related habitual response to them. It is based on the current analysis aimed at solving the problem. In addition, the theory focuses on the extent to which individual’s thoughts and perceptions towards situations in life affect their emotions and behaviors. In terms of generalized evaluation, the theory stipulates that individual behaviors and emotions are influenced by a variety of external stimuli. These stimuli have a responsibility of conditioning and learning. Both positive and negative patterns attribute to learning and life conditioning experiences that gear learning thus affecting individual feelings and behaviors while interacting with others in the society. 

Psychodynamics is considered to be based on the psychoanalytic theory. Psychoanalytic theory has four major divisions. These are ego psychology, Freudian, self-psychology, object relations and ego psychology. According to the Freudian model, the human psyche comprises of the inner nature, the super-ego and the ego and humans are inherently aggressive and sexually driven. The four categories offer distinct theories of psychopathology formation, personality formation and change; approaches of conducting therapy. This therapy is conducted over a shorter period of time. Therapists here work with clients with substance-abuse problems. In other words, this theory, unlike the other highlighted theories, focuses on individual’s unconscious thoughts and behaviors developed and learnt from childhood experiences. More so, this theory takes a step further developing possible effects of these experiences on individual’s current behaviors and perception towards others and the society. An assumption made by this theory is based on the fact that individuals are prone to emanate from their unconscious thoughts and repeat this behavior pattern in their lives. During therapy, the professional mostly uses free association, analysis of individual resistance and acceptance of change and as well evaluating individual dreams and interpretations. 

Similarities of the Therapy Theories

While evaluating the similarities between these therapeutic theories, the main aim will be on the assumptions made by the psychologists and also the application of these theories to the understanding of different behavior patterns observed in individuals. Similarly, the analysis will be focused on the interventions applied by therapists while aiding their victims to cope with the psychological troubles. In this section, the discussion will focus on the similarities between the highlighted therapeutic theories. 

In understanding the similarities between the individual therapy and psychodynamic therapy, the equivalents and similarities of the two can be seen. The realizing tendency, the structure of self and self-perception of personality from the Freud’s theory reveal a number of similarities. The instinctive force and structure of self are both symbolic of the inner nature that is often taken for granted or hindered. The super-ego and the self-perception, both represent internalized instructions and values. The realizing tendency is similar to the ego because it works to integrate the instinctive force, the super-ego and the realizing tendency.

Another similarity is seen between the cognitive behavioral therapy and the individual therapy. Their likeness of their therapeutic interventions where both implement the important conditions of unconditional positive consideration, empathy and congruence, which are used in cognitive behavioral theory, is the foundation for work alliances. In the two, relationship between therapist and patient is the same with the therapist being congruent and both using the skills of paraphrasing, reflection and summarizing. According to this, the patient is ready for eventual final stage a couple of sessions before the therapy ends. Both would consider awareness approach. There is also similarity in the two theories, when change occurs through the revealing of schemas, and this is similar to creating awareness of unconsciousness and consciousness.

Contrast in Human Experiences

Individual psychotherapy focuses on gender, racial and cultural equality. The societal interest that goes hand in hand with individual psychotherapy and universal issues has made an important contribution to hospital and education institutions, and community programs. Past experience shows willingness to provide treatment for any person varying from personal and group therapy aimed at treating pathologies. The lifestyle analysis applied here may contribute to a sensitive consideration of a person’s values, interactions, family situation, religious and cultural factors of growth. This analysis allows therapists to learn more of the person and may provide a link between cultures. The social nature of individual psychotherapy creates a variety of advantages for humanity and provides a platform to solve multi-cultural problems.

In contrast cognitive behavioral therapy is best equipped to cater for the needs of individuals where difficulties might be faced and subjective distortions are possible. It has been mostly used for various psychiatric disorders alone or together with another type of psychotherapy. In previous years, it focused on a single person basis, while today it deals with groups, couples and families. It is not preferred for complete treatment of persons with serious disorders or when the patient is currently unstable. However, individuals with enough cognitive abilities and sense of reality that are willing to commit to therapy sessions can benefit from this therapy. It can also be used for people of different levels of income, education and origin as it starts with evaluating the person’s values, beliefs and attitudes existing in various settings inclusive of culture.

On the other hand, psychodynamic therapy deals with a person’s unconscious cogitation that comes from infancy experiences changing their current attitude and thoughts. The drive that comes from the unconsciousness drives people to repeat this pattern of action. It includes free corporation, the evaluation of resistance and movement, analyzing and interpreting dreams. It usually takes a longer time. It focuses on making the unconscious conscious for the patient to become wiser.

Contrast in Intervention

Individual psychotherapy differentiates itself by applying a wide variety of treatment methods and approaches. The approach for eliciting previous recollections and style of living is an interview approach that is proactive and forthright. Early recollections give rich information concerning person’s way of living and emotions in this type of therapy. The approach here is universal and idiosyncratic and does not represent an organized set of techniques, or the articulate change methods of the therapy. Traditional individual therapy calls for creativity, encouraging the formation of new plans by therapists to suit person’s uniqueness.

Cognitive behavioral theory differs as it deals with target cognition and restructuring. It has developed and assimilated quite a number of treatment strategies. It works to question the evidence, skills training, reattribution and challenging dysfunctional thoughts. It is objective and aims at a certain goal without focusing on the patient’s history. In terms of psychological therapy, the difference lies in the fact that the patient can over-rely on the client whereas cognitive behavioral gives the client a platform to be autonomous.


In conclusion, it is clear that counseling theories are crucial for understanding individual behaviors and perceptions. Similarly, these theories are vital for professionals aiming at helping individuals with psychological troubles. The aim of the discussion was to compare and contrast the three theories. It is therefore clear that counseling theories are similar in their understanding and approach of individual behaviors. However, they differ in terms of their spheres of application in the process of solving different psychological troubles.

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