Similar to Gestalt therapy, I also did not incorporate existentialist thinking into my theory.
However, similar to Jungian analytical psychology and Gestalt therapy, I view this type of therapy as very philosophical in its' nature and application. Therapy methods that are very philosophical in their application do not appeal to me because they do not seem to adequately address the "real-life" problems, and instead seek vague answers that can be subject to many different kinds of interpretation. Existential therapists seek to find whether the major questions of our existence can be answered. As a result of my disagreeance with this type of therapy, I have not modeled by theory after existential therapy.
Another reason why I have not modeled my theory on existentialism is because most often such theorists will claim a spiritual or religious basis for their optimism.
Hoffman (2004) states that the spiritual existential approach is not necessarily a religious approach in the sense of believing in God, though it often could be viewed this way. The spiritual approach is one in which some type of transcendent or embodied answer to the major existential questions is believed to exist (Hoffman, 2004). I am under the impression that such questions belong to the area of philosophy, not psychology, and as a result, cannot assist a patient that is in need of an effective type of therapy. Before pondering one's existence, one must need to understand their own personal actions and mental thoughts. Thus, existential therapy is not my treatment model, even though it has affected my decision.
Finally, I believe the most in cognitive-behavioral therapy because it requires the true expression of feelings. As a result of this expression, client's can open up their inner selves and can learn to deal with any hidden feelings, an element that is necessary for successful treatment. I think that once a problem is openly displayed through emotion, or through a relationship with another person, the treatment process has already begun. It appears to become easier to write a treatment plan and recommendations once some type of emotion is displayed, even if it is not a positive portrayal. My personal counseling theory is modeled on a type of treatment most likely to succeed, or an individually tailored approach that includes careful assessment and uses many different cognitive-behavioral techniques to support individual behavior change. Thus, as summarized above, my development over the semester has been greatly affected by the various theories of psychology presented in Seligman's text, classwork, and additional recommended readings and research studies.
Personal Counseling Mission Statement
As a new counselor, I seek to both nurture and educate the client utilizing a professional and confidential relationship, and expand that relationship to the client's family and close friends with whom that individual's actions and emotions affect. In my work environment, I seek to foster a socially aware, safe, and caring community of individuals who are willing to assist others, myself included, through their education and years of counseling experiences.
An Evaluation of the Effect of the Mission Statement on my Counseling Theory
Since my personal mission statement places significant weight on important relationships, both client and work-related, my counseling theory is largely based on feelings, relationships with others, and active treatment methods and goals. I realize that my theory may be criticized by others as being too feeling-oriented, however, an individual's inner feelings and belief system governs the majority of their actions, and must be understood in order to fully diagnose and treat the client. My mission statement is also influenced by the fact that I believe in continuing education programs for counselors, and that a new counselor has much to learn from the experiences and knowledge base of a counselor with many years of experience.
Based on Seligman's text and the classwork this semester, I believe that my counseling theory most closely resembles that of cognitive-behavioral therapy. For example, the goals of cognitive-behavioral therapy are to alleviate negative symptoms and prevent their recurrence by helping clients identify, test, and reshape negative cognition's about themselves, the world, and the future. Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, the client attains an ability to develop new and more flexible cognitive patterns to their prior methods of viewing life experiences. Langevin (1983), states that the effectiveness of therapeutic treatment is often measured by its contribution to restoration of emotional health and normal functioning along with the subjective sense of well being of the individual. Normal behavior may be defined either by reference to the applicable social norms or by statistical frequency (Langevin, 1983).
I believe that my theory more closely resembles cognitive behavioral therapy because that type of therapy combines cognitive therapy and behavior therapy. According to John Winston from the New York Institute for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies, cognitive therapy is defined as therapy that teaches how certain thinking patterns are causing the patient's symptoms. These thinking patterns can give the patient a distorted picture of their life, making them feel depressed, anxious, or angry for no good reason. Winston defines behavior therapy as therapy that assists the patient to weaken the connections between troublesome situations and their habitual reactions to such situations. These reactions include fear, depression, rage, self-defeating or self-damaging behavior. According to Winston, behavior therapy also teaches individuals how to calm their mind and body, so that they can feel better, think clearly and make better decisions. Thus, this description seems to fit my theory better because as a counselor, I can take an active role in treating clients.
According to Winston, cognitive behavioral therapy resembles education, coaching or tutoring. Winston (2003) states that the two most powerful levers of constructive change are altering ways of thinking, and the ability to deal with challenges and opportunities. The "altering ways of thinking" portion deals with the person's thoughts, beliefs, ideas, attitudes, mental imagery and methods of directing his/her attention for the better. According to Winston (2003), the second lever of change is assisting the person to deal with challenges and opportunities presented in a such a manner that they are able to take actions that are more likely to have more desirable results. Finally, cognitive behavioral therapy has been very thoroughly researched, and has shown to be very effective. Of course, I would want to model my theory after a theory that has been proven to be successful to that my efforts are worthwhile and not in vain.
Furthermore, cognitive-behavioral therapy is appealing because it is a clinically and research proven breakthrough in mental care. It is the preferred method of treatment for many of the conditions that I am interested in, such as depression and mood swings, problems in marriage and other relationships, inadequate coping skills, or ill-chosen methods of coping, and substance abuse. Additionally, the client participates in setting treatment goals and deciding what techniques work best for them, a criteria I would definitely want if I were in the position of the client. Lastly, I believe that the most important reason that my theory is modeled after cognitive-behavioral therapy is because it is an extremely active theory in which the therapist or counselor's role is always changing, and positively challenging.
Although Freud's theory of psychoanalysis assisted in the development of my personal theory, my theory can be compared and contrasted with his theory. Psychoanalysis is comparable to my theory because it can help the client understand and control his/her behavior. In individual psychoanalysis, the therapist should maintain a helping role modeled on the parent-child relationship by showing respect, interest, and understanding. The therapist encourages openness and honesty on the part of the patient. This parent-like role gives the therapist the power to influence the client positively, and to interpret his/her self-defeating behavior and distorted beliefs about reality. However, the patient must be able and willing to profit from it. This is comparable to my theory because I also believe in individual counseling based on a confidential and trusting relationship between the client and counselor.
My theory is comparable to psychoanalysis on an individual basis as compared to group psychoanalysis, which gives members the opportunity to share experiences, gain insight, learn to control unacceptable impulses, and find acceptance. As a counselor, I feel that I am better suited to therapy on a one-on-one or individual basis. I think that I can be more effective on an individual level than in a group session. If I were the patient, I would definitely prefer an individual setting to a group setting. People in therapy usually need to learn to deal with themselves and their own problems before they can discuss them or their treatment in front of many others. Although used more commonly than individual psychoanalysis, the effectiveness is unknown, and thus, as a new counselor, not an element I am willing to implement yet. This is because there have been no replicable, controlled studies conducted so far. Thus, my theory is most comparable to cognitive behavioral therapy in its application and…