Discuss the Three Main Counselling Theories

Marc Dalal: Theory Essay Page 01


In this essay I will; describe key elements of psychodynamic theory, describe key elements of person-centered theory, describe key elements of cognitive-behavioral theory and identify the key differences between the above theories. Lastly I will conclude with my findings.

Unit 2.1.1 describe the key elements of psychodynamic theory

Psychodynamic theory underpins a style of counselling based on the ideas of Freud. Freud believed what happens during childhood continues to affect us in the present. The effect of our childhood is stored in our unconscious. Recovery of this unconscious material is essential to the psychodynamic process. The unconscious is raw, animal like, irrational and is said to have a powerful effect on our behavior.

The psychological mechanisms which protect us from the contents of our unconscious are known as defenses. The unconscious experiences we are protected from are often too painful to bring into awareness. The feelings may be difficult to acknowledge, our conflicted attitudes unpalatable. The painful material we defend ourselves from, are the raw material for psychodynamic counselling. Defenses include: projection, denial, splitting (a combination of projection and denial). Michael Jacobs says (Psychodynamic Counselling in Action, Sage 1999, Page105), “Defences not only involve unacknowledged negative feelings toward other people . . .they also describe a clients relationship to her/him self.” Projection is the ascribing of feelings and ideas about our self onto other people. Projection can be seen as a diversion of unwanted feelings about ourself onto others. Denial is the refusal to acknowledge unwanted feeling. Splitting is the separation of oneself from the experiences of the self.

Psychodynamic theory is a collection of ideas from which a set of tools has been developed with which to unravel the suffering of clients. The unearthing of unconscious material allows this material to be...