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CURRENT TRENDS IN THE PRACTICE OF COUNSELING

Dr. Krishna Prasad Sreedhar

Introduction Perspective of Counseling Theory and Practice of Counseling Current Trends in the Practice of Counseling Appendix Introduction
Counseling in its widest connotation existed in one form or the other from time immemorial. In all cultures the elders not only set the norms of behavior within that culture but also counseled the youngsters to follow the norms. In India, elders especially parents and teachers thought that imparting counseling in the form of advice and guidance was one of their fundamental, and seared duty. The oft repeated adage; "Mata, Pita, Guru, Deivam" (Mother, Father, Teacher, God)reminded the youngsters not only of the agents of counseling but also of the priority as to who should impart counseling at various stages of life. Ancient epics of India are replete with depictions of counseling. Elders were only too ready to take up the role of counselors and youngsters sought counseling with prompt compliance. Many such incidents could be explained away as mere acts of 'giving advice'. But in most of those ancient transactions it is not difficult to see the scientific practice and ethics of modern counseling techniques. The most widely acknowledges counseling situation in the epics is that of the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Whether this dialogue had all the characteristics of modern counseling may have to be answered by committed researchers in this area. Many, often ask questions regarding the relevance and suitability of modern counselling techniques in all cultures. Experts in this field are of the opinion that the culture of India with the above heritage is potentially oriented to the modern techniques of counseling.

Counseling as Others See It
Counseling is a much-misunderstood concept. To the laymen it is an occasion where an expert solves the problems of others. Laymen believe that the expert has ready-made solutions for all the problems of human beings. Most counselors know that this is far from truth.

Guidance and Counseling
The term guidance denotes explicit directions given by an informed person regarding any subject. An expert in career guidance can impart information regarding different career possibilities. He may also be able to tell us where the careers are open and even the possible openings at the time of consultation. In imparting such information the guidance expert can give pieces of information irrespective of the suitability of the client for the job. However, he has also the option to test the suitability of the client using suitable psychological test.

Counselling, on the other hand is more dynamic. It aims at the solution of clien ts’ problems. Counselling is a much-misunderstood concept. To the laymen it is an occasion where an expert solves the problems of others. Laymen believe that the expert has ready-made solutions for all the problems of human beings. Most counselors say that this is far from the truth. Counselling is a process between the counsellor and the client in which solutions emerge as a joint venture of the two.

and personal interviews in which the counselee is taught to make his own decisions". The best examples are the three different definitions of counseling given by Good (1945). and c. is expected to be a process. The relationship between the client and the counsellor is expected to be genuine. Client is expected to be frank and forthright in his approach. It is the duty of the counsellor to keep confidentiality regarding the client. Counsellor is expected to be non judgmental and non critical. often with the assistance of Specialists. 3.. To Wrenn. Perspective of Counseling The perspective of Counseling may change from counselor to counselor. Common to all these perspectives are the notions that. although it may sometimes involve more than two people. a. 9. Counselling is usually for normal people with problems. b. Good defined counseling as the ". clients and settings. It is designed to help clients to understand and their self determined goals through meaningful resolution of problems of an emotional or interpersonal nature" (Burks and Stefflre. counseling enables personality development A recent and much accepted definition is: "Counseling denotes a professional relationship between a trained counselor and client. 4. 7. but in which there is always mutual participation by the counselor and the student with the focus upon self-clarification and self-determination by the student". 1979). "Counseling is a dynamic and purposeful relationship between two people in which procedures vary with the nature of students’ needs. school and community resources. Counsellor is to show warmth and sympathy while listening to the client’s problems. vocational problems. The merit of the definition by Burks and Steffler is that it is sufficiently theoretical and at the same time reasonably operational. But the basic perspective of counseling remains the same. and even goals. Along with the differences it is worth noting the commonalties. counseling is a learning process.Characteristics of counselling 1. All these definitions have common base but are different in their emphasis. worth the purpose of helping the client change his/her behavior so that a satisfactory resolution of needs may be obtained". counseling is aimed at helping people make choices and act on them. "Counseling is a process involving an interaction between a counselor and a client in a private setting. Pepinsky and Pepinsky (1954) and Wrenn (1951). Hann (1953) identifies one group as the social welfare advocates with ideographic interest. 6. . through with different emphasis. educational. There are differences in training.individualized and personalized assistance with personal. The difference among the three definitions stems from the fact that they have three different orientations. According to Pepinsky and Pepinsky. in which all pertinent facts are studied and analyzed. It is essentially a dynamic interaction between the client and the counsellor. The second group is more medically oriented and the thirds group consists of people with student personnel administration and has great interest in measurement. This relationship is usually person-to-person. Counselling usually works at the level of rapport and not at the level of transference. 8. and a solution is sought. 10. Client’s conscious motives are explored rather than the unconscious motives.. 5. 2.

To believe that all those clients would benefit from one kind of theory is unrealistic. The current trends in this area can be broadly classified into three approaches. goals and aspirations. and 3. which occurs between the various ego states and the struggles between the real parts of their behavior (whether the same is productive or counter productive) and the behavior of others by identifying which ego state is in power at any given time. cognitive approaches 2. even those who are fanatically tied down to one theory appear to change over time.e. It may be observed that the approaches closely parallel the three aspects of personality viz. TA thus gives the clients information about the various types of transactions that occur among individuals and to help them . This is why we have different theories and practices. Trying to know these theories as old and new broadens our perspective. For example Transactional Analysis (TA) aims at the internal dialogues of individuals. to help clients eliminate most emotional disturbances by learning to think rationally. They are: 1. feeling and doing as given by the ancient Philosophers). rational ideas and attitudes..Theory and Practice of Counseling Theory and practice should go hand in hand. knowing. irrational ideas and attitudes and substitute logical. However.e. This is one of the most demanding challenges of counselling. When the man does not fit into the theory the counselor is compelled to change his theory. and self-actualization. It is believed that this process helps the client to attain rational behavior. But what would be ultimately useful is the one that is carved out from the counselor’s experience with the counselees.. affection and conation (i. like the Procrustean bed. This is because the client is a human being and he is the link between the theory and practice of the counsellor. cognition. It is useful to know that all the well-known theories have emerged from the practice of individual counselor’s personal experience with counselees. Counselors should keep their minds more receptive and flexible. in the cognitive approaches. Individual clients differing in their personalities come with dissimilar problems. This is why all textbook writers speak of a ‘Personal Theory’. i. to help them get rid of illogical. repel the human psyche. Many trained counselors initially adhere to the theory while starting their career as counsellor. Cognitive Approaches As Feorge and Cristiani (1981) have pointed out. The psychological concept of individual difference must be understood thoroughly. affective approaches. Current Trends in the Practice of Counseling Introduction Cognitive Approaches Affective Approaches Behavioral Approaches Towards a Personal Theory of Counseling Introduction Prospective counselors should be aware of major approaches to counseling so as to enable them to acquire a sound basis for developing their own personal brand of counselling. behavioral approaches. happiness. the process of counseling is the curing of unreason by reason. Rigid theories.

and particularly what the individual is experiencing at a given time. feeling. The implication here for the counselor is that the counselor should help the client to face courageously the incongruence between awareness and experience so that communication of his real experiences is in full awareness and not distorted with defense mechanisms and neurotic constrictions. If a client is aware of communicating a feeling which he is genuinely experiencing. It also highlights an issue in counseling. he generally experiences feelings of adequacy. Individual client's need to strive for wholeness is the focus in Gestalt therapy and counseling. The goal of TA is to help clients review their past decisions and make new decisions about their present behavior. The RET counselor makes the client understand that the latter’s internationalized sentences are quite illogical and especially the current illogical thinking are self-defeating verbalizations of the client. his behavior is said to be congruent or integrated. If on the other hand. Rogers highlights the importance of 'Congruence'. spontaneity. security. Unless counseling eliminates this defensive chain reaction and strengthens his selfconcept. he may then defend himself against this threat using one or more of the commonly described "defense mechanisms". This school of counseling gives importance to the internal world of the individual. the client centered counselors emphasizes the importance of accurate communication. and worth. guilt. the defensive behavior would increase vulnerability to further threat. The 'self-theory' of Rogers also assumes a perspective called 'phenomenology'. namely. Gestalt psychologists point out that such awareness permits sellf-regulation and selfcontrol in the direction of increased integration and creativity. It is believed that the counselors help the clients work toward a total awareness of his experiences. This is known as the empathic skill of the counselor. Striving for the gestalt or the wholeness is actually a striving for an integration of thinking. It is assumed that this would change their life direction into developing an autonomous life style characterized by awareness. In reality therapy. inadequate. or worthless. he experiences what is known as "threat" and feels insecure. how much responsibility can be placed on the client for his own problem solving? Rogers believed that when the individual perceived himself as behaving in a manner consistent with his 'picture' of himself. Client-centered counseling of Rogers is perhaps the most well-defined technique in the affective approaches. the meaning of reality and the necessity to act responsibly are taught by the counselor. the 'internal frame of reference' of the client is used in counseling with the implication that counselors must attempt to perceive client's perceptual worlds as closely as they can. In incongruent communication the awareness and experience of the client are two different if not opposing things. So also the recipient may experience an awareness of phony communication. The key concept here is awareness. thereby creating more distortion and more self-defeating mechanisms. eliminate a life style characterized by manipulative game – playing a self-defeating neurotic tendencies. Under pressure and with no other alternative. It means the close 'matching of awareness and experience'. In this context. In other words. The way to understand individuals is to infer the 'phenomenological field' from their behavior. The success if the counselor lies in bringing illogical thinking forcefully to the client’s attention. . he acts in a manner different from the way he defines himself. Affective Approaches As the term suggests the affective approaches in counseling focus their attention to what is going on inside the individual. According to this perspective. it is believed that would.identify the kinds of behavior in which they are involved. For example in Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) the counselor takes up an active teaching role to educate clients. He must also show to the counselee how these thoughts are maintaining his unhappiness and how a rethinking and maintenance of logically and rationality make him happy and contented. This. The role of the therapist is not just eliminating the defense mechanisms. and behaving. Directive teaching is the core in all the cognitive approaches. people's 'reality' is that which they perceive.

responsibility. the first emphasis is to discover how the behavior was acquired and how it can be changed. Here it is absolutely necessary to point out that training in some known approach is better than no training. The awareness of one's own existence and the possibility of non-existence alters the inner world or the phenomenology. Corey (19977) recommends the eclectic approach as a framework to begin with. As the behavioral approaches base their understanding of human behavior through the theories of learning. This was how ‘personal theory’ emerged. it can be said that making the client accept responsibility for himself is the aim of existential counseling. . and a basic urge for self-actualization. Counselors are supposed to expose his own inner reality and at the same time be human. systematic desensitization and assertive training. the search for unique meaning in a meaningless world. This approach is characterized by (1) a focus on overt and specified behavior. The main aim of this relationship to the behaviorist counselor is to facilitate greater understanding of the client's view of the problem. the existential counselor tries to understand the client as 'a being' and as 'a being in the world'. This according to existentialists enables clients to become aware of similar conditions and qualities in themselves. The much talked about counselor-counselee relationship in other approaches is of secondary importance only. Man is essentially an emotional being rather than a rational animal! The existence of man is unique because he is the only being who reacts to the fact of his existence. Affective. By about 1973. This demand of the client to the counsellor had made many counselors to abandon their dogmatic approach. but the practice of counseling on the basis of this theory is difficult. The client and his needs became more important than the counselor’s theory and dogma. Behavioral Approaches While the dynamically oriented theorists try to understand conscious and unconscious through inference. In the behavioral approaches well defined counseling goals are of central importance. and (4) an objective assessment of the outcome of counseling in terms of the degree of approximation to the target behavior. However. (3) a formulation of a specific and objective treatment procedure to the problem at hand. Unlike Psychoanalysis. anxiety. All these techniques are well known to counselors. the behavioral counselors concentrate on objective study of client behavior and the learning process. The practicing counselors were undergoing transformation as the clients were not interested in theories and their subtleties but were interested only in immediate problem solving. Fortunately most of the controversies existed only as academic gymnastics at a theoretical level. These new premises create new experiences and needs that are yet to be known. As a theory existentialism is sound and appealing. finiteness and death. which is a later addition. social modeling. Orientation of the counselors started changing towards a pragmatic approach. one of the major forces that have come to occupy an important place in psychology is 'Existentialism'. The predicament of human beings is such that it includes the individual's capacity for increased self-awareness. existentialism is a temperamental way of looking at life. being alone and being in relation with others. Patterson began to think in terms of commonalties among the approaches. However. (2) a precise and well spelt out target behaviors called goals. is on precondition for behavior change. The second emphasis. freedom to choose one's fate. In a nut shell. and Conative) with their differing foundations vary in their theory and practice of counselling.Recently. It is basically a philosophy of experiences which need not necessarily be categorized into cognitive compartments. they use very specific techniques like behavior contracts. It is pointed out that through this process clients come to recognize their potentialities and achieve self-growth by accepting it as their responsibility. As the emphasis is primarily on overt behavior. This helps to formulate a more successful behavioral plan for bringing about change in the client's maladaptive behavior to one of adaptive behavior (target behavior). Personal Theory of Counselling The three basic approaches (Cognitive.

and why we try to exemplify an approach which we have termed 'creative synthesizing'. (A summary of the above is given as appendix). There is high accountability for the behavior of the client and counsellor.George and Cristiani (1981) point out that although beginning counselors need a firm understanding of all the major approaches. It is further pointed out that judicious integration and assimilation of techniques from other approaches could be done with experience. Extendeding and amplifying personal system Examples Thorne's Integrative Psychology Rogers's Client Lazarus's Structural Centered Eclectism Advantages Ready-made system of assumptions and concepts Extensive Collection of various methods Flexibility of choice on methods . This approach is not an arrogant attempt to put down predecessors. Freud was not a Freudian. The process involved is clear and well defined. they must explore in depth their own values. In conclusion I wish to quote this important paragraph form Brammer and Shostrom (19977) as guidance to all of us who are interested in the area of counselling practice. they should start first with a thorough grounding in one theoretical approach to counselling. 'If I have seen further. it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants'. Usually. The advantage of this approach is that it is sufficiently objective. let us start with the behavioral approach. It is based on sound principles of learning. "Each counselor and psychotherapist must ultimately develop a point of view which is uniquely his or her own. and what they themselves are like. The goals are operationally defined and free from philosophical overtones. ". The tangible alone are taken into account. Counselors must know their own assumptions about the nature of people. Appendix Established single theory Main Characteristic Integrated set of assumptions related directly to strategy and method Freud's Psychoanalytic Eclectic Approaches Creative Synthesis Strategies and methods from several approaches applied selectively to clients Application of broad and varied strategies and methods related to a synthesized theory evolved and "owned" by the practitioner Assagioli's Psychosynthesis Shostrom's Actualizing Therapy Continuous synthesizing. Caution has been sounded in developing a personal view of counseling. and beliefs about what constitutes a good life. what people are like. they are the results of many years of cumulative cross-fertilization of numerous minds. Ideas are rarely developed in solitary efforts. attitudes. Jung not Jungian. well-functioning individual so that they can keep this as a goal. This is the reason why no one text or school is fully adequate. Isaac Newton is alleged to have said on this point. The present author’s personal opinion is that here in the cultural setting of India. Counselors should also identify their own models of mature. Each of them was himself most fully and completely. Each practitioner must feel that his counseling practice reflects such individuality. while building upon the wisdom of the past. and Rogers not a Rogerian.

and tends towards limited creativity "I use what works" "I'm flexible" "I like TA methods but not the basic assumption" "Everyone says something important" A continuous lifelong task Tends to be idealistic Futuristic -.ahead of its time Requires continuous creativity Requires trust in self Risky -.requires standing on one's own "I'm constantly reevaluating my ideas" "I develop my own theory to fit me" "I try to keep open and take some risks" "I trust my own observations and judgements"  .experience and database Consistency of theory and method Limitations Tendency towards restricted view of data Often a closed system Encourages hero worship Fosters competition and divisiveness Illustrative comments by practitioners "Clientcentered theory" "Speaks to me" "Ellis is my here" "I dig Freud" "I am analytic" "I stick with the tried and true" Wide agency application of methods Discourages competition Fosters therapist's identity with own views Encourages uncritical picking and choosing De-emphasizes integrative theorizing Tends toward fadism Additive collection of what works for now Imitative.