Theoretical Orientation and Practice of Nz Counsellors and Psychotherapists

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During the 20th century, counselling and psychotherapy approaches saw an evolution in theories and techniques from the use of one main perspective, toward perspectives that are integrative and eclectic in practice. This proposal will commence with an outline of theoretical trends within counselling over time, from psychoanalytic theory in the 19th century to the plethora of theories available to practitioners today. Integration and eclecticism is defined and studies are presented that offer contrary views on the efficacy of integrative and eclectic practice. One of two studies by Henry H. Hollanders & John McLeod (1999) will be highlighted. Their Practitioners¡¦ Theoretical Orientation Questionnaire (PTOQ) established the extent of integrative and eclectic practice among counsellors and other practitioners of psychological therapies in Britain. This research proposal is a partial replication of the first study. The aim of this proposal is to establish the extent of theoretical integration and eclectic practice by New Zealand counsellors and psychotherapists, taking into consideration the cultural nature of our society.

Prior to 1940 the main theoretical approach was psychodynamic, which included the theories of Adler (individual psychology), Jung (analytical psychology), and Erickson (psychosocial); but the most widely known approach was Freud¡¦s psychoanalytic perspective (Corey, 2001).

Post World War II to the late 1970¡¦s saw the rise to prominence of several main theoretical perspectives that rivaled and eventually overtook the psychodynamic approach. These perspectives were the behavioural and cognitive schools of thought. During this time, between 100 and 250 systems of counselling and psychotherapy were developed (Corsini, 1981; Parloff, 1979 cited in Hollanders & McLeod, 1999). These systems for the most part, were founded upon the three main schools of thought; the psychoanalytic, behavioural and humanistic viewpoints (Young, 1993).

By the 1980¡¦s, coinciding with the rise of the phenomenological perspective, counselling practitioners were faced with a wide array of both theories and therapeutic techniques from which to choose.

The movement toward eclecticism has been supported in various studies conducted within the United States. (Kelly, 1961; Garfield & Hurtz, 1974; Beitman, Norcross & Prochaska, 1982; Jayaratne, 1982; Goldfried & Norcross, 1984; Norcross, Prochaska & Gallagher, 1989; Jensen, Bergin & Greaves, 1990 as cited in Hollanders & McLeod, 1999). Research has shown that between 27% and 70% of American practitioners indicated eclecticism as their preferred mode of practice (Lazarus, Beutler & Norcross, 1992, cited in Hollanders & McLeod, 1999).

However, few studies have been conducted in Britain (Dryden, 1984; Norcross, in Dryden, 1991; Hollanders & McLeod, 1999). Despite this, research has found that eclecticism was the most frequently reported mode of practice in Britain (O¡¦Sullivan & Dryden, 1990; and Norcross, Dryden & Brust, 1992). These findings were supported by a further survey of the membership of the British Association for Counselling (BAC, 1993) which found that 74% of counsellors may be utilizing an eclectic perspective in their practice (Hollanders & McLeod, 1999).

¡§Increasingly, however, ¡¥eclecticism¡¦ is being applied to the use of diverse techniques without regard to their origins within a particular theoretical orientation; while ¡¥integration¡¦ is being used to refer to attempts at combining diverse theoretical concepts into a coherent new theory¡¨ (Hollanders, 1997, p.483).

The recognition of the use of integrative and eclectic practices has led to researchers developing more definitive descriptions of what these two terms mean.

Nuttall (2002) identified three types of...
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