My Personal Theory

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My Personal Theory of Counseling

Kristen Bellows
University of Texas at San Antonio

My Personal Theory of
Counseling

Perhaps nothing is as significant to the success of the therapeutic process and nothing represents the foundation of successful therapy more than one's personal theory of counseling. All individuals in all aspects of life work from some belief system, perspective, or model of how the world works, how things are, and how things interact. Developing a deep understanding of one's own personal theory leads to better decision-making with respect to the therapeutic process, including therapist approach and client interaction. Such an understanding also promotes a greater ability to intervene more effectively with clients whose values are in contrast to one's own. Being aware of one's own personal theory of the world and, subsequently, one's view of counseling, also helps the therapist identify individual strengths and areas for improvement. The personal orientation of the therapist is a sum total of many influences such as interests, self-awareness, experience, values, and compassion for others, among many other things. Such influences have a direct impact on one's personal theory of counseling. For instance, my Christian upbringing, experiences, and beliefs have a significant impact on my personal view of the world and others and, therefore, also on my theory of counseling. My religious beliefs and values coincide with some therapeutic approaches and not others. In this paper I delve into my recent introspective and reflective explorations as well as the experiences and lessons I have learned throughout my life which has led me to embrace and adopt the particular theory of counseling I believe suits me the most at this time.

Of all the theories I have learned for the duration of this class, none has resonated with me as much as Existentialism. While I have a tremendous reverence for psychoanalysis and its focus on examining the causal factors behind one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors i.e. one’s past/childhood, the unconscious, as well as its contribution of key concepts to counseling such as transference and countertransference, I am a bit unsettled by the deterministic and rigid view this approach takes of human nature. I connect much more deeply to the philosophies of existentialism: the emphasis it places on an authentic and genuine encounter with clients, its recognition and respect for the client’s subjective world, trust in the capacity of the client to make positive decisions and the concepts it focuses on in counseling such as meaning, purpose, freedom, responsibility, choice, isolation, death concepts that relate to our mere existing in the world and the larger scheme of life.

I tend to shy away from the theories such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, feminist therapy, and gestalt therapy, which are very technique-oriented, exercise-driven, directive in approach, and simply require too much action on the therapist’s behalf. I feel these theories do not allow much of the client’s pursuits and search for meaning in life to come through or at least, it is not the major focus of therapy. I do recognize that for some clients these other therapies may be useful, which is why I do not discredit nor dislike them; I just feel that they do not mesh with who I am personally and are not as inherent to my way of being as much as the precepts of existentialism are.

Personally, I hope to find out my purpose in life and contribute something meaningful to the world. Over the few months of self-reflection, I realize that I simply get great joy through serving others and helping them in any way I can. I am more concerned with creating a meaningful identity and relationships with others as I recognize the limits to my existence. I know that one day, I, as well as everyone else will die, and I therefore have a longing to make the most of my time on earth and the time spent with others filled with less...
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