Reflection Paper PCN 500 July 26, 2010 Lynn Lunceford, Psy. D. Holly Willis A counseling theory has certain qualities, such as clear operational definitions so that it can be tested further. To be most useful, a counseling theory should be parsimonious yet comprehensive enough to include known related empirical findings. It should stimulate new discoveries and predict events deductively within its purview and preview. A counseling theory also should serve an organizing and explaining function for observed events.
One’s theory should help them to simplify observations and to focus an observer’s attention along specific dimensions. A counseling theory, then, is a collection of assumptions, interpretations, and hypotheses which helps to explain what is happening in counseling and, which gives an observer a framework in which to make his or her future observations, evaluations, and predictions about client behavior. A counseling theory deals with goals and purposes (“ends” theory) as well as with counseling process and techniques (“means” to the theory); hence, philosophical concepts as well as psychological theories are involved.
A counseling therapist is faced with an additional, demanding task of incorporating relevant facts and theories of biology, sociology, and anthropology. Ideally, a counseling theory should generate research and be comprehensive enough to cover known facts about human growth, decision-making, and learning in the complexities of practice. It should also be flexible enough to incorporate new discoveries and mathematical models. A considerable amount of thought is allowed to theorize while counseling points out that theory building in counseling involves more than observation, inference, and interpretation.
This can include hypothesis formulation and prediction. Putting together data from events prior to counseling, a counselor builds a meaningful picture of the unique person before them. Another function of theory is to help a counselor move from the role of a technician who applies scientific techniques to specific problems into an artful yet creative practitioner. This idea is expressed sometimes as focusing on the purpose, the reason, or the “why” rather than on the methods, tools, or the “how” of their work.
Then, I can learn to appreciate, for example, that just “listening” is not enough to accomplish my goals with a client and that under certain circumstances “listening” may work against the mutual interest. We must know why listening is important under certain circumstances. A systematic experience with counseling theory can give a counselor a frame of reference for thinking about their self and their client. Even though I may not learn one theory thoroughly, or even develop a system of my own, I can acquire a vocabulary which I can use to communicate with others while in training.
A study of personality and learning theory, furthermore, should give me as a counselor, new directions and incentives for personal growth through pointing out fresh viewpoints from my observations about counseling. When speaking about counseling theory, this opinion refers to the impressions of variety of personality theories. For counseling theories to work and for me to be nurtured in assessments, I must always focus rather than become specifically delineated in behavioral events, such as cognition traits, and have motivation.
A study of counseling theory can hardly avoid emphasizing different ways of perceiving the same behavior in all clientele. Numerous opportunities present themselves for pointing out what a difference it makes in practice whether one sees the task of counseling as permitting free expression of feelings and promoting insight of a client first and then expecting that a change in behavior will automatically follow. If one sees the task primarily as one of changing behaviors first through management of rewards and then expect changes in outlook further behaviors can take place.
A theoretical position should help to decide which approach to utilize. I will see also how these differences in approaches reflect very basic differences in perceiving the nature of human behaviors and ways of expectations of the clients that I assist. As a counselor I will be able to appreciate distinct points of view between those which hold to the empirical tradition of science for generating their data (such as the learning theorists) as compared to more philosophical and humanistic approaches. For example, a counselor should be equally at home with concepts like reinforcement of schedules and existential encounters.
I should understand the rationale underlying operant conditioning and the process of what I am to a client. I would be able to appreciate also results of such theories of counseling which emphasize lofty goals of a client’s existence. As a counselor, I can see more clearly differing points of focus on the person, process, technique, or the goals of various points of view because each will have their own personality. Different theories of personality are like spotlights focused on the individual from differing directions as if looking at a portrait and studying it to understand all that is observed.
Discussion of issues that center on similarities and differences in using behavior and client-centered approaches in promoting behavior change can help to clarify a cloudy issue in counseling theory for best rapport between client and counselor. It is my view that theories should be taught all through a counselor education program. I believe that I should have exposure in a general psychology and general guidance courses as well with experienced therapists and social workers to better understand human behaviors while in the field to be well versed in my practice.
These disciplines of studies shall combine to reinforce my passion for providing assistance to others in need of therapy to guide my approaches; this in essence allows me to become effective in practice and make ethical decisions in evaluating my client(s). References Campbell, K. E. , ; Jackson, T. T. (1979). The role of and need for replication research in social psychology. Replications in Social Psychology, 1, 3-14. Chaplin, J. P. (1985). The dictionary of psychology (2nd rev. Ed. ). New York: Dell. Cohen, J. (1969). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. New York: Academic Press.