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TYPES OF COUNSELLING.

It can sometimes be complicated or difficult to describe the different types of orientations/therapy that is used, which can be really confusing. Many therapists are trained in several different styles and will tailor their approach for you. In this case they might also use words such as integrative when they describe how they work.

This is a brief run down of some common terms you might come across:

PSYCHODYNAMIC COUNSELLING

This is based on the idea that past experiences have a bearing on experiences and feelings in the present, and that important relationships, perhaps from early childhood, may be replayed with other people later in life. It translates the principles and insights of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy into once-a-week counselling.

The counsellor usually aims to be as neutral a figure as possible, giving little information about him or herself, making it more likely that important relationships (past or present) will be reflected in the relationship between the client and the counsellor. This relationship is therefore an important source of insight for both parties and helps the client to ‘work through’ their difficulties. Developing a trusting and reliable relationship with the counsellor is essential for this work.

COGNATIVE BEHAVIOURAL COUNSELLING (CBT)

This model is concerned with the way people’s beliefs about themselves shape how they interpret experiences. The objective is to change self-defeating or irrational beliefs and behaviours by altering negative ways of thinking.

Clients learn to monitor their emotional upsets and what triggers them, to identify self-defeating thoughts, to see the connections between their beliefs, feelings and behaviour, to look at the evidence for and against these thoughts and beliefs, and to think in a way that is more realistic and less negative.

The counsellor usually gives the client tasks or homework to do between sessions. This could mean recording thoughts and feelings or doing something that tests out a basic assumption about themselves. This might mean, for instance, going to the shops when their fear is that they may panic. 

INTEGRATIVE APPROACH

Interpersonal therapy is a form of therapy that helps an individual understand the dynamics of communication and interpersonal relationships. Interpersonal therapy targets communication and interpersonal behaviour to help the patient understand how he contributes to the struggles and emotional issues he faces. The premise of interpersonal therapy is if you can improve interpersonal behaviour and communication, you will receive more support and acceptance from others and from yourself, which will help improve overall mood and reduce emotional issues.

HUMANISTIC

Humanistic therapy is a client-centered approach that emphasizes unconditional acceptance from the therapist and the free expression of the patient. With humanistic therapy, the patient is encouraged to openly express what is affecting him as he works with the therapist to find meaning, self-actualization, and understanding of his emotions. Two common humanistic therapeutic techniques are client-centered therapy and Gestalt therapy. Many counsellors utilize the client-centered approach's emphasis on unconditional positive regard or acceptance regardless of other theories they may apply with patients.

GESTALT

Gestalt therapy is a phenomenological-existential therapy founded by Frederick (Fritz) and Laura Perls in the 1940s. It teaches therapists and patients the phenomenological method of awareness, in which perceiving, feeling, and acting are distinguished from interpreting and reshuffling pre-existing attitudes. Explanations and interpretations are considered less reliable than what is directly perceived and felt. Patients and therapists in Gestalt therapy dialogue, that is, communicate their phenomenological perspectives. Differences in perspectives become the focus of experimentation and continued dialogue. The goal is for clients to become aware of what they are doing, how they are doing it, and how they can change themselves, and at the same time, to learn to accept and value themselves.

Gestalt therapy focuses more on process (what is happening) than content (what is being discussed). The emphasis is on what is being done, thought and felt at the moment rather than on what was, might be, could be, or should be.

PLAY THERAPY

Play therapy responds to the unique developmental needs of young children, who often express themselves better through play activities than through verbal communication. The therapist uses play and other creative activities to communicate with the child and observe how the child uses these activities to express thoughts and feelings that are not expressed in words. There are two approaches to play therapy:

  1. Nondirective play therapy is based on the principle that children can resolve their own issues given the right conditions and the freedom to play with limited instruction and supervision.

  2. Directive play therapy uses more input from the therapist to help speed up results. Play therapists use both approaches, depending on the circumstances.