Explanation of theoretical approaches

Both Counsellors and Psychotherapists work from a variety of Theoretical Approaches with their clients.Research has found that the ‘relationship’ that develops with the counsellor is as important as any specific approach used.

Integrative Therapy

This is when several distinct models of counselling and psychotherapy are used together. Many of the therapies outlined below are used in the integrative approach.

Humanistic Therapy

Coming from the “personal growth movement” this approach encourages people to think about their feelings and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions.  Emphasis is on self-development and achieving highest potential. “Client-Centred” or “Non-Directive” approach is often used and the therapy can be described as “holistic” or looking at person as a whole. 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a specific way of intentionally paying attention. One negative thought can lead to a chain reaction of negative thoughts.  This approach encourages people to be aware of each thought, enabling the first negative thought to be ‘caught’ so that is seen as just a ‘thought’ and not a fact. This breaks the chain reaction of negative thoughts giving a mental ‘space’ in which the person can re-centre themselves in the present. Mindfulness is likely to appeal to therapists who have developed a long-term meditation practice. 

Person-Centred Therapy

Devised by Carl Rogers and also called “Client-Centred” or “Rogerian”  counselling, this approach enables the client to come to terms with negative feelings, which may have caused emotional problems, and develop inner resources. The objective is for the client to become able to see himself as a person, with the power and freedom to change, rather than as an object.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy/Counselling

This approach stresses the importance of the unconscious and past experience in shaping current behaviour.  The client is encouraged to talk about childhood relationships with parents and other significant people and the therapist focuses on the client/therapist relationship (the dynamics) and in particular on the transference. Transference is when the client projects onto the therapist feelings experienced in previous significant relationships. The Psychodynamic approach is derived from Psychoanalysis but usually provides a quicker solution to emotional problems.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

This combines Cognitive and Behavioural techniques.  Clients are taught ways to change thoughts and expectations and relaxation techniques are used.  It has been effective for stress-related ailments, phobias, obsessions, eating disorders and (at the same time as drug treatment) major depression.

Gestalt Therapy

This therapy focuses on the whole of the client’s experience, including feelings, thoughts and actions.  The client gains self-awareness in the `here and now’ by analysing behaviour and body language and talking about bottled up feelings.