This chapter serves as an introduction to theories of counseling and psychotherapy. Theories of counseling and psychotherapy are foundational to the practice of mental health professions. Professional counseling or psychotherapy is the process whereby a trained professional uses his or her knowledge of biology, psychology, personality, relationships, and social systems to change behaviors and to solve client problems. Counselors are highly educated professionals who are directed by ethical codes to help people in need. Psychotherapists, no matter what their professional affiliations, are bound by the ethical principles of beneficence and non-maleficence. Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. The American Psychiatric Association published its highly used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM- 5), which provides a listing of mental disorders and the criteria used to diagnose them. It is a typology of mental disorder-mental illnesses viewed as within the person.
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This chapter introduces an approach that is unique to counseling theory, based on its focus on solutions rather than problems. It gives an example of a model that is based on social constructivism philosophy. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) represents a significant break with the underlying philosophy at the core of traditional psychologically oriented psychotherapy approaches. It also represents a unique philosophy that extends beyond that of classic social systems theory, which is at the base of the classic family therapy approaches. The goal of SFBT is the replacement of symptomatic or problem behaviors with functional and wanted healthy behaviors. SFBT can be accomplished as an individual psychotherapy, as couple counseling, or as family therapy. Research is beginning to show that SFBT has great potential and is a viable, efficient, and effective approach to treating mental health issues.
This chapter introduces a systemic-relational therapy that focuses on family structure. It provides a biographical summary of Salvador Minuchin, the founder and proponent of Structural Family Therapy. The chapter outlines the basic theory of the structural approach and provides guidance on application of the theory. Structural family therapy is unique among the systemic-relational therapies because of its emphasis on the structure of families as a focus of study and as a target of intervention. Minuchin worked from the assumption that individuals are not bound by mentality into set ways of reacting; rather, he views the individual as an “acting and reacting member of social groups”. Minuchin believed that the therapist must take a leadership role as he or she joins the family in therapy. Minuchin’s Structural Family Therapy has emerged as a major player among the predominant family counseling theories.
This chapter provides a biographical sketch of Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy. It outlines the underlying philosophy and basic principles that guide the Gestalt therapist. The beginning of Gestalt Therapy is identified best by the writing of Perls’s classic work, Ego, Hunger, and Aggression, which was originally viewed as a revision of Freud’s Psychoanalysis. The target of Gestalt Therapy is the individual perceiver as he or she lives (flows through) life. The Gestalt therapist places more value in action than in words, in experience than in thoughts, in the living process of therapeutic interaction and the inner change resulting thereby than in influencing beliefs. Case management is the process of maintaining contact with the client while facilitating the interpersonal relationship consistent with Gestalt therapy principles. The interpersonal nature of Gestalt Therapy is a strength, from a practical, therapeutic standpoint, but it is also a theoretical weakness.
This chapter provides a biographical sketch of Carl Rogers, the creator of Person- Centered Therapy (PCT). The “self” and the “self- concept” are foundational constructs that reflect Rogers’s early ontology, the self as an identifiable aspect of individuality. Rogers’s exposition of the “necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic personality change” in 1957 is perhaps the best summary of his foundational theory of change. According to Rogers, the difference that one person makes in interaction with another person does not necessarily have to be consciously recognized, it can be subceived. The basic theory of person-centered therapy is that if the therapist is successful in conveying genuineness, unconditional positive regard, and empathy, then the client will respond with constructive changes in personality organization. The Client-Centered Therapist is basically viewed as a facilitator of growth and movement toward the process of full functioning.
This chapter provides an overview of Jay Haley’s approach, which has been called “strategic therapy” and also “problem-solving therapy”. Jay Haley is the founder of Strategic Problem Solving Therapy and a leader of the systemic-relational movement. Problem Solving Therapy focuses on counseling families of triads or larger system structures. The issue of dyadic relational structures was dealt with in his earlier work, entitled Strategies of Psychotherapy. The strategic therapist must be directive, tactical, relationally neutral, and be able to negotiate the terms of therapy so that problems become the evident focus of treatment. The ideal outcome of Strategic Problem Solving Therapy is problem resolution. The therapist, then, must be the consummate interpersonal technician. Assessment occurs throughout strategic therapy, as the therapist continually reassesses whether clients are responding to directives or not. Haley’s approach has become very popular and is regarded as one of the leading therapies among systemic-relational paradigm adherents.
This chapter presents the intricate work of Marsha Linehan that has shown much efficacy in treating a specific population of clients, as well as others. It lists basic tenets of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and the basic concepts used in conceptualizing and addressing a client’s concerns. DBT is a skills-based approach first targeted toward and found through extensive research to be highly effective with those experiencing extreme emotional dysregulation patterns, suicidal ideation, and non-suicidal self-injury consistent with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). DBT is derived from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with modifications specifically added for treating emotional dysregulation and related behaviors. The DBT therapist is highly flexible and uses a dialectical approach. There are four procedures for eliciting change in DBT clients: contingency procedures, exposure-based procedures, cognitive modification, and the didactic strategy of skills training itself.