A good summary is a beautiful thing. But summaries are always unfair and limited representations of that which is bigger. Nevertheless, below, I’ve tried to summarize the primary listening focus and the primary change mechanisms for each of 13 theoretical orientations included in our textbook, Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice (John Wiley & Sons, 2018). In addition, yesterday I filmed myself using a memory-palace strategy while describing all 13 perspectives below. You can read the summary below and/or watch me try to pull off this 15 minute theories overview on YouTube: https://youtu.be/VJFK6cCHCU8
|Theory||What to Listen For. . .||Change Mechanisms|
|Psychoanalytic Psychodynamic||Old maladaptive intrapersonal conflicts and repetitive, unconscious, and dysfunctional interpersonal patterns.||Make unconscious conscious, catharsis, and working through new intra- and interpersonal dynamics.|
|Adlerian||Basic mistakes imbedded in the style of life, including excess self-interest and inferiority/superiority.||Awareness, insight, and encouragement (courage) to face the tasks of life.|
|Existential||Anxiety over and avoidance of core existential life dynamics like death, isolation, meaninglessness, and freedom.||Feedback and confrontation to help clients gain awareness and face life’s ultimate existential demands.|
|Person-Centered||Emotional distress, incongruence (discrepancies between real and ideal selves), and conditions of worth.||A relationship characterized by congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathic understanding.|
|Gestalt||Unfinished emotional and behavioral baggage from the past that blocks awareness or disturbs self-other boundaries.||Guidance on using here-and-now experiments to deal with unfinished emotional and behavioral experiences.|
|Behavioral||Disturbing emotions (e.g., anxiety), maladaptive behavior patterns, and environmental contingencies.||New learning or re-learning via operant, classical, and social processes.|
|CBT||Disturbing emotions (e.g., anxiety, anger), maladaptive thinking, maladaptive behaviors, and triggers/contingencies||Collaborative and empirical tasks that modify maladaptive or distorted cognitive information processing.|
|Choice Theory/Reality Therapy||What clients want, what they’re doing, whether that’s working, and planning.||Commit to and enact adaptive plans that are aligned with quality world goals.|
|Feminist||Where is the client experiencing anger or dissatisfaction due to gender-based limits or oppressive situations?||Relational connection and empowerment to actively seek personal goals and mutually empathic emotional relationships.|
|Constructive||Where clients are stuck and how existing client strengths, exceptions, and solutions can fuel change.||Re-shaping, reframing, and reconsolidating old narratives and problem-based patterns through solutions and sparkling moments.|
|Family Systems||Family dynamics, transactions, hierarchy, roles, and boundaries that contribute to personal or systemic dysfunction.||Shift family dynamics and transactions via in-session and outside session assignments.|
|Multicultural||Where is the client experiencing distress due to limiting or oppressive socio-political factors?||Cultural acceptance, empowerment, and culturally-based rituals.|
|Integrative||What are the client’s unique problems, strengths, and consistent ways of thinking, acting, and feeling?||Match a therapeutic process to the client’s unique problems and strengths.|
5 thoughts on “Essential Information about Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories”
Your mind works in nice, clear tables sometimes :).
Why thank you Dr. Rita!!
I liked the framing of the su,mary as essential differentiations and thought the separation into what you listen for and mechanisms of change a great idea. I’ll use this with my theories class. Thank you.
Thanks Dr. Mark. I’m glad you liked the framing and found it useful. Be well!
Thanks for sharing such a helpful and informative article.