Most of the Counseling theories are based on theories of psychotherapy. Such
theories include:
1. Psychoanalytic therapy
2. Person-centered therapy
3. Rational Emotive Therapy
4. Adlerian therapy
5. Existential therapy
6. Gestalt therapy
7. Behavior therapy
8. Cognitive behavior therapy
9. Reality therapy
In this topic let us briefly describe some of these theories
Psychoanalytic theory (Ego- Psychology)
Ego psychology refers to a school of psychoanalysis which is rooted in Sigmund
Freud's id-ego-superego model of the mind.
Psychoanalytic Theory
The founder of this theory is Sigmund Freud (1856-1936). Freud came to see
personality as having three aspects, which work together to produce all of our
complex behaviours: the Id, the Ego and the Superego. All 3 components need
to be well-balanced in order to have good amount of psychological energy
available and to have reasonable mental health.
THE ID (It): functions in the irrational and emotional part of the mind. At birth a
baby’s mind is all Id - want want want. The Id is the primitive mind. It contains
all the basic needs and feelings. The id is made up of innate biological instincts
and urges. It is self-serving, irrational, impulsive, and totally unconscious. The id
operates on the pleasure principle (a desire for immediate satisfaction of wishes,
desires, and/or needs).
THE EGO: (I): functions with the rational part of the mind. The Ego develops out
of growing awareness that you can’t always get what you want. The Ego relates
to the real world and operates via the reality principle. The Ego realises the need
for compromise and negotiates between the Id and the Superego. The Ego's job
is to get the Id's pleasures but to be reasonable and bear the long-term
consequences in mind. The Ego denies both instant gratification and pious
delaying of gratification. The ego is the system of thinking, planning, problem
solving, and deciding. It is in conscious control of the personality
The Superego is the last part of the mind to develop. It
might be called the moral part of the mind. The Superego becomes an
embodiment of parental and societal values. It stores and enforces rules. It
constantly strives for perfection, even though this perfection ideal may be quite
far from reality or possibility. Its power to enforce rules comes from its ability to
create anxiety.
The Superego has two subsystems: Ego Ideal and Conscience. The Ego Ideal
provides rules for good behaviour, and standards of excellence towards which
the Ego must strive. The Ego ideal is basically what the child’s parents approve
of or value. The Conscience is the rules about what constitutes bad behaviour.
The Conscience is basically all those things that the child feels mum or dad will
disapprove of or punish.
Freud’s psychoanalytic view considers the source of our emotional problems to
be in the unconscious part of the mind.
According to Freud, there are three levels of consciousness:
conscious (small): this is the part of the mind that holds what you
re aware of. You can verablize about your conscious experience and you
can think about it in a logical fashion.
preconscious (small-medium): this is ordinary memory. So although
things stored here arent in the conscious, they can be readily brought into
unconscious (enormous): Freud felt that this part of the mind was not
directly accessible to awareness. In part, he saw it as a dump box for
urges, feelings and ideas that are tied to anxiety, conflict and pain. These
feelings and thoughts have not disappeared and according to Freud, they
are there, exerting influence on our actions and our conscious awareness.
This is where most of the work of the Id, Ego, and Superego take place.
Goals of Psychoanalytic Theory
To make unconscious thoughts and memories conscious.
To reconstruct the basic personality of a client
To assist clients in reliving earlier experiences and working through
repressed conflicts
To achieve intellectual and emotional awareness
Free Association – This technique encourages clients to speak their mind
and say whatever they’re thinking regardless of how silly, unimportant,
rude, or painful it may be. Generally this technique allows for some
catharsis and the therapist keeps an ear open to repressed material that
the client may not be fully exploring. The psychoanalyst will also interpret
this material with a goal of leading the client toward better insights of the
hidden dynamics.
Dream Analysis – Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are the “road to
the unconscious” because of the fact that so much repressed unconscious
material arises within the context of dreams. The therapist works to
uncover the disguised meanings that are in the dream through the study
of the dream symbolism.
Analysis of Resistance – Resistance occurs when a client becomes reluctant
to bring unconscious or repressed thoughts to the surface and explore
then. It is also identified as “any idea, attitude, feeling, or action
(conscious or unconscious) that fosters the status quo and gets in the way
of change.” The therapist of the psychoanalytic model will usually point
out resistance when it occurs and then educate the client about how to
better work with the unconscious material as opposed to resist it.
Though there are other techniques, these are the three that counseling clients
most often desire to know more about.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. (8th ed).
Belmont, CA: Books/Cole.
Additionally, Freud and psychoanalysis believe that it is important to strengthen
one’s ego so that behavior will be based more in reality and not so much on the
instinctual cravings that the ID wants to express
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was the American psychologist who developed person centered therapy.
This type of humanistic counseling deals with the ways in which people perceive
themselves consciously rather than having a counselor try to interpret
unconscious thoughts or ideas. Under CCT Counseling is not only about looking
at the past( as with Freued’s psychoanalysis), it is also about building a
sustainable future that is spiritually, intellectually and emotionally fulfilling. This
may require an exploration of the transpersonal as well as the attitudes,
behaviours and feelings associated with everyday experience. In client-centered
counseling, the focus is on the client's concerns and interests.