The acquisition of counseling and psychotherapy philosophy and framework starts is usually dependent on the personality of the counseling student and familiarity with the existing major approaches or techniques to therapeutic practice. The theoretical perspective, philosophy, and framework determine what therapists look for and what they see after making initial contact with clients. Personal philosophy and framework of therapy determines the therapist's focus and course of action while affecting his/her choice of therapeutic strategies and processes (Corey, 2012, p.4). Therefore, a counseling student should carefully consider his/her own basic assumptions when developing his/her therapy practice. This is an increasingly involving process that goes beyond mere acceptance of the tenets of a specific theory or combination of theories. Generally, an individual's theoretical approach and therapy framework is a reflection and expression of his/her experiences in life.
Approaches to Counseling and Psychotherapy:
Counseling and psychotherapy is a process that involves the engagement between two individuals who are expected to change through the therapeutic experience. This process is usually collaborative since the therapist and client engage in developing solutions to issues or concerns. The theories that have been developed in the field of counseling and psychotherapy are mainly geared towards explaining the collaborative nature of the psychotherapy practice. Notably, counselors or therapists use the different theories to develop their personal philosophy and framework for the practice.
According to Corey (2009), therapists are not engaged in the work of changing clients, giving them quick advice, or solving their problems on their behalf. These professionals basically promote and facilitate healing through a procedure that is mainly based on genuine dialogue (p.6). Therefore, the most significant factor that affects the client and promotes the needed change is the type of person the therapist is. This implies that counselors should explore their personal beliefs, attitudes, and values in depth and work towards enhancing their own awareness. This will help them to avoid sounding like technicians by possessing wide theoretical and practical knowledge but lack human qualities like honesty, compassion, sensitivity and good faith (Corey, 2009, p.6).
The process of increasing personal awareness requires the therapist to remain open to his/her growth and to deal with any personal problems. Actually, clients require therapists to have a better sense of personal awareness and deal with any problems in order to believe in the therapist and the psychotherapy process. In essence, therapists should identify ways with which they personally relate to the various approaches or theories in counseling and psychotherapy.
One of the most important steps towards developing a personal philosophy and framework for therapy is to familiarize oneself with the current major approaches to therapeutic practice. In the counseling field, these therapeutic approaches are mainly described through various theories that have been developed to guide and explain the practices of therapists. Consequently, there are various approaches to counseling and psychotherapy with distinct concepts and useful dimensions.
Some of the major common theories to counseling and psychotherapy are psychoanalytic therapy, Gestalt therapy, Jungian therapy, reality therapy, existential therapy, Adlerian therapy, behavior therapy, person-centered therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and marital and family therapy (Tan, 2011). These theories or approaches differ based on the techniques or procedures developed by their founders and practitioners and have been used to help in the development of personal philosophy and framework in therapy.
The development of the various theories to counseling and psychotherapy has been influenced by the four forces of psychotherapy i.e. psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, existential-humanistic, and emerging theories (Thomson, 2003). In addition to being the most complex set of psychological theories, psychodynamic aspects of personality and psychotherapy are the first major forces in counseling and psychotherapy. These theories originated from Sigmund Freud's work or psychoanalysis and suggest that a person's present and future is strongly influenced by the past. In contrast, cognitive-behavioral forces are the second forces in psychotherapy that are divided into cognitive and behavioral foundations. Existential-humanistic theories are the third force some significant concepts of the counseling procedures like listening skills and empathy originate from. This force is based on the assumption that it's important to be authentic to an individual's self in body, mind, experience, and environment. The emerging theories force highlights the significance of treating each client as a person, being sensitive to his/her spirituality and culture, and changing therapeutic techniques to accommodate his/her unique needs.
Developing a Personal Philosophy and Framework for Therapy:
As previously mentioned, developing a personal philosophy and framework for therapy is an increasingly engaging process rather than simply accepting the principles of a specific theory or combination of theories. This is primarily because a therapist theoretical approach to the psychotherapy practice is an expression of his/her unique experiences in life. Therefore, the first part of this process is to carefully consider or pay attention to personal basic assumptions. The second step is to examine personality and relationship with clients because the therapeutic techniques are not separate from the two. Third, a therapist should examine his/her personal growth and deal with any personal problems that may affect the therapeutic process. The other important step in developing personal philosophy and framework for therapy is to examine the major theories in counseling and therapy. Actually, it's impossible to develop a personal philosophy and framework for therapy without an evaluation of the current major theories. Moreover, a comprehensive technique to counseling not only involves focusing on internal dynamics but also dealing with the environmental realities that affect people.
Personal Philosophy and Framework for Therapy:
A personal philosophy and framework therapy may involve ratifying an existing theory, combining various theories, or introducing a personal model through modifying current theories or critiquing the limitations of a specific theory. From a personal perspective, my philosophy of therapy is based on the belief that people have internal and external resources to draw upon when developing solutions to their problems (Corey, 2009, p.6). The personal philosophy of therapy is strongly influenced by the humanistic-existential approach that focuses on being genuine to the client's experience, environment, body, and mind.
The use of the humanistic-existential approach in developing my personal philosophical orientation is based on the fact that it does not stipulate a set of procedures and techniques. Through this approach, the philosophical orientation focuses on recognizing the significance of enhancing the insight and awareness of clients and incorporating everyday life into practice. Notably, this philosophical orientation is also influenced by other theories like psychoanalytic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, feminist theory, and family therapy.
As part of helping to understand a person's experiences, the psychoanalytic therapy plays a crucial role in showing the impact of the individual's past in shaping the existing personality and behavior. Exploration of the client's past is useful when seeking to understand the extent that his/her past life continues to affect current emotional and behavioral challenges or issues. In contrast, the cognitive behavioral therapy is an essential approach to my philosophical orientation in relation to understanding the client's mind. In this case, the therapy helps in showing how thinking patterns affect an individual's feelings and behaviors. Even though thinking and feelings are vital dimensions, the cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on current behavior.
The feminist therapy is crucial to my personal philosophical orientation with regards to understanding the client's environment. The approach is vital in understanding how environmental conditions lead to problems of men and women and the effect of gender-role socialization on lack of gender equality. On the contrary, family therapy contributes to an understanding of the individual apart from the context of his/her system. The last two approaches help in understanding the inter-personal dimensions and socio-cultural context instead of emphasizing only on the intrapsychic spheres.
My personal philosophy for therapy is the basis for adopting an integrative framework for psychotherapy, which is based on human experience. The integrative framework for therapy incorporates the intrapsychic and interpersonal focuses i.e. structure and function and relational aspects respectively. One of the main reasons for adopting the integrative framework is that it enables the practitioner to follow personal proclivities in focusing various aspects and integrating several theories and techniques. As an inclusive model, the integrative framework does not necessitate the evaluation of every single aspect once a change occurs in one part of a system and affects the whole (Lapworth & Sills, 2009, p.55).
The integrative framework uses the integrative theory in counseling where many therapists combine four or more different approaches in their practice. In addition to recognizing the different aspects of each theory, the therapists look for the common elements within each theory. The use of the integrative framework is also based on the fact that there is no therapeutic theory that is better than others. According to the findings of research, there is minimal therapeutic difference between the theories in counseling and psychotherapy since each are equally effective (Haley, 2004). While many practitioners tend to do the same things despite of the theory, the integrative framework seems to be effective because there are various ways for achieving wellness.
The application of the integrative framework during…