Term Paper: Behavior and Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Developing My Personal Style

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Personal Counseling Theory

Traditional counseling theories have varied in their background, purpose, application, and treatment methods. Over this past semester, I have been exposed to a number of different counseling theories, psychotherapy systems, strategies and related skills. A synthesis of these different theories has enabled me to develop by own personal counseling style. Historically, both psychoanalytical and cognitive behavioral approaches have been among the most commonly used methods of treating various disorders, in areas as of great diversity. This paper will provide a synopsis of my own personal counseling style, the development of my own personal mission statement and its' effects, a comparative analysis of the established theory that most closely resembles my style, and a reflection of contemporary research involving this theory.

Review of Theories Leading to the Development of my own Personal Counseling Theory

Over the semester, my own personal counseling style has been affected by many of the theories presented in Seligman's text. One of the theories presented that has assisted in my development style is Freud's theory of psychoanalysis, which is based on the conflicts that Freud believed were at the core of human existence. Freud believed that these conflicts emerged from attempts to reconcile our biological selves with our social selves. Like Freud, I also believe that there is an internal battle occurring between an individual's mental awareness with their physical awareness. Aspects of these conflicts are unconscious and influence our behavior without our awareness (Strisik & Strisik, 2005). Psychodynamic therapies work to make the unconscious conscious so that we can have greater insight into our needs and behavior and therefore more control over how we allow these conflicts to affect us (Strisik & Strisik, 2005). However, my style is not completely a "psychodynamic therapy," but can be described as having its' roots in psychoanalysis. My style can best be described as finding a path to resolve internal conflicts so that the individual's mind can mature and self-actualize.

Self-psychology, as theorized by Heinz Kohut, has also affected my growth in this area. Kohut's variation of object relations theory recognized the central importance of people's needs for relationships critical in providing necessary experiences during growth and development (Strisik & Strisik, 2005). Kohut termed such experiences "self-object experiences." Sufficient positive self-object experiences when the infant and child are developing facilitate the formation of a strong, cohesive self, or the core of one's personality and character (Strisik & Strisik, 2005). I believe that Kohut's theory, combined with Freud's psychoanalysis, can provide an effective form of therapy because individuals can use their attained knowledge of how to form a positive relationship to combat an internal conflict. Kohut's theory is responsible for the formation of a strong core personality and character, which is necessary to be able to resolve any internal conflicts.

However, this is the point where my personal counseling style strays from Kohut's theory. Kohut's theory does not address the non-occurrence of positive self-object experiences, or the steps that the therapist can perform when the individual undergoing counseling does not have a strong core personality to begin with, or build on. The main element that I have added to my counseling style from Kohut's theory is his concept of empathy to the individual's experience of anxiety and distress. I have added this concept because Kohut's concept of empathy led to an exploration of the individual's personal beliefs and value system, which is necessary in order to understand the relationship between the individual's personal beliefs and their physical and psychological self. Kohut's theory has also influenced me to give important, equal weight to events in the individual's past, present and predicted future experiences. Thus, in my own personal style, questions and reflections regarding all aspects of the individual's experiences are taken into consideration.

Other theories presented in Seligman's text, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, have also helped me to develop my own style. My personal theory differs from that of Alfred Adler's theory of individual psychology, which seemed to focus on society. Adler believed that since humans are social animals, emphasis should be placed on social factors. This theory argues that the will to power and superiority are more important to the human race than sex or the will to pleasure. According to Adler, individuals try to overcome the deficits they believe they may have through either ambition or displaying superiority over others. My theory does not take into consideration Adler's theory of "inferiority complex," because I believe that although people are social beings, emphasis must be placed on relationships and their ability to relate to others instead of on the will to power and superiority.

Carl Gustav Jung and analytical psychology has also assisted in forming my counseling style. Jung extended Freud's concept of the unconscious beyond the individual, to include a collective unconscious besides the individual unconscious. Although my theory has its' roots in Freud's basic theory, I disagree with Jung's interpretation of Freud's theory of psychoanalysis. According to Jung, the racial memory of centuries is precipitated in the unconscious of each individual. This theory appears to be a bit too philosophical for me to apply into my counseling agenda and style. Additionally, Jung's theory appears a little too impractical for me to apply in reality, and does not fit in as part of my own personal style. However, his theory has given me a better understanding of Freud and Adler's theories that I previously did not have.

One of the theories that has been the most influential for me is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a practical approach that seeks to define concrete goals and uses active techniques to reach them. The cognitive-behavioral therapist looks at patterns of thinking and behavior and how these patterns are reinforced and maintained by the person within his or her environment (Strisik & Strisik, 2005). Next, a functional analysis of thinking and behavior is performed, using log sheets and graphs to better understand thought and behavior patterns in the context of daily routines. My style will implement this type of a log style, as a tracking device and for short-term and long-term analysis. I believe that this type of analysis will lead to a better understanding of the individual's symptoms and behavior patterns, from the therapist's point-of-view. After such analysis, it will be easier to establish some type of client "goals" and a more effective method of writing a treatment plan that is individually tailored to meet those goals or address new problems.

I was also influenced by cognitive-behavioral therapy because it seems to be the route that takes a more active approach to therapy. With cognitive-behavioral therapy, the counselor can implement a number of different techniques that appear to be more "hands on." For example, some of the techniques and programs that are usually associated with cognitive behavioral therapy include relaxation training, systematic desensitization, assertiveness training, and social skills training. This way, because people are so different, one type of program that does not work for some individuals may be very effective for others. After years of counseling, I think that a counselor will be able to establish different treatment programs through their gained knowledge of what works best for certain types of people. Although this may sound like stereotyping individuals and their therapeutic treatment, the counselor can use this as a starting point to kind of preliminarily evaluate a client.

Gestalt therapy was also covered in the text, which involves the interrelationship between awareness and energy. According to Fiebert (1990), when awareness is scattered and bound up in unknown feelings and thoughts, energy flow is diminished throughout one's personality. Gestalt therapy attempts to free the patient from mental, emotional, and physical energy blocks. From this perspective, every psychological problem can be explored and resolved as a polarized conflict between two aspects in personality (Fiebert, 1990). I had considered the methods of Gestalt therapy for my own counseling theory, but did not incorporate into my model. However, I did gain from our review of Gestalt therapy, and it has affected my decision to model my therapy style on another theory.

What I gained from Gestalt therapy is the fact that every patient session should be unique, and that during the counseling sessions, the patient is encouraged to assume increasing responsibility for individual thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the connection between verbal and nonverbal behaviors. According to Fiebert (1990), the Gestalt therapist operates in a more dynamic and active manner than that of a client-centered counselor who relies primarily upon receptive qualities expression through empathetic reflection of feelings. For my own practice, I would prefer to operate as a client-centered counselor, and this is one of the reasons why Gestalt therapy differs from own theory.

Additionally covered over the semester was existential therapy, which is a powerful approach to therapy which takes seriously the human condition. According to Hoffman (2004), existential therapy is an optimistic approach in that it embraces human potential, while remaining a realistic approach through its recognition of human limitation. Hoffman (2004) additionally states that existential… [END OF PREVIEW]

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