Theories and Methods in Counseling
This paper will take the reader briefly through the three grand theories of counseling in psychology and then onto the two emergent theories, which are based on observation, biology, sociology or anthropology. From that framework, some methods/therapies will be discussed and then a brief look at legal and ethical concerns will be presented in order to prepare the reader for the author’s Biblical perspective, which highlights the obvious missing element in the development of these theories/therapies. The Biblical references are the author’s personal choices and not the only relevant instances to be found in the Bible for spiritual insight into the theories and methods of psychology. The paper will then conclude with this penman’s personal reflection on this material and how it relates to her future practice of counseling. Keywords: Freud, grand theories, emergent, methods, therapies, ethics, Biblical
Theories and Methods in Counseling
Psychological theories and the therapies that result from them are of great importance to the counselor who is engaged in helping people through difficult times and/or mental illness. The modern western tradition of counseling, and in particular psychoanalysis, began with Sigmund Freud. Very little effort is given here to understand where his ideas originated, but, that does not mean his thoughts were independent of his culture, time period, and personal experiences. For Freud, and in fact everyone after him, individual theories and concepts evolve and in time “new” theories appear as older ideas give way to new-found “truths”. This paper begins with Freud and then onto the two other grand theories, behaviorism and cognitive theory. On this journey, the reader will be traveling from the end of the Enlightenment, through modernism and end up in the post-modern world. Although not directly stated, this can be seen as Freud’s opinion that mankind is just incapable of understanding the sub-conscious progressing onto behaviorism where “reason” should be able to explain all things. Reason failed to solve all the issues that could trouble a person and the pursuit of understanding how people think (cognitive theory) began which lead to new methods and therapies. In parallel, society changed with legal and ethical questions demanding attention. The paper then progresses toward general Biblical concepts ending in the author’s personal reflection concerning counseling.
In the counseling profession, there is support to be eclectic when choosing a therapy and without knowledge of the origins of various therapies and understanding how they are to operate one cannot be effective. Add to this the focus of solving a person’s specific issue with time constraints, demands a counselor who is on firm intellectual and spiritual ground. Grand theories
Psychoanalytic theory is credited to Sigmund Freud whose practice as a physician involved treating people with mental illness. He developed his psychosexual theories after hearing patients relate their dreams and fantasies. Freud posited that development in the first six years is characterized by sexual happiness related to a specific part of the body (Berger, 2008). Birth to one year is the oral stage, one to three years of age represents the anal stage, three to six years is the phallic stage, six to eleven years the latency stage, and the adolescent period is described as the genital stage, continuing into adulthood where it remains dominant. Problems arise in individuals when conflicts in one or more of these stages are unresolved (Berger, 2008). Unresolved conflicts are revealed by the unconscious via dreams, fantasies, slips of the tongue, and the symbolic content of the symptoms, as well as free association, projection, and posthypnotic suggestion symptoms (Corey, 2009). This approach suggests that the unconscious holds the key to resolving...