Philosophies of Counseling

Philosophiesof Counseling

Philosophiesof Counseling

Counselingrefers to a self-discovery process whereby, a therapist assists thepatient in exploring his or her inner psychological and emotionalworld. The assistance enhances an individual’s self-awareness, aswell as expedite transformation over obstacles that make one’s lifeunbearable. Over time, psychologists have developed unique counselingapproaches designed to suit individual patients. This implies thatcounselors should establish he nature of a patient’s problem inadvance, and then offer medical expertise tailored to suit anindividual’s psychological problem. Each counseling theory focusseson a treatment outcome instead of the problem that have caused themmedical inconvenience. Besides, counseling treatment focuses on thefuture instead of the past. Counselors assist patients to envisiontheir lifestyle after eliminating the issue. Presently, counselorschoose between theoretical purity and theoretical eclecticism intheir practice. Professionals that use theoretical eclecticismapplies varied treatment approaches. On the contrary, counselors thatuse theoretical purity depends on one treatment approach. Theoreticaleclecticism is popular among many counselors because professionalshave several options of treatment techniques designed to suitindividuals. Sometimes, counselors using purity counseling approachare forced to refer patients to other doctors because patients mayrequire special treatment styles that may not fit their lifestyle.For example, counselors that rely explicitly on rational thinking maybe forced to refer patients that cannot think rationally to anotherexpert with skills in the field. The customers’ cultural beliefs,personal preferences or even particular disorder could be solved moreeffectively using a given technique. The varied requirements ofpatients’ led to the development of philosophies of counseling. Theobjective of this essay is contrasting the Freudianism, Behaviorism,and Rogerianism theories.

Primaryconcepts of the theory

SigmundFreud invented the Freudianism counseling philosophy. Freud, anAustrian neurologist, found the psychoanalysis theory. Althoughtherapists utilize unique treatment techniques depending on the needsof the client, the treatment is based on four major assumptions.First, psychological issues originate from the unconscious mind.Second, some ‘latent’ or hidden disruptions cause the visiblesymptoms (Wampold, 2001, p. 59). Third, repressed trauma orunresolved problems in an individual’s past are the primary causesof psychological problems. Lastly, the treatment’s primary goal isunearthing repressed problems such that therapists can address them.Once a therapist understands an individual’s treatment in the past,the treatment alters a patient significantly. In summary, therapyfocuses on the patient’s past since childhood events determinesstability of a patient’s mental development (Wampold, 200, p. 64).

CarlRansom Rogers designed the Rogerianism counseling philosophy. Hebased his therapy concepts on existentialism philosophy while Freudbased his ideology on psychiatry. The theory is the most famoushumanistic therapy as it focuses on the relationship or experientialof children with their parents instead of etiology of events duringtheir development (Wampold, 2001, p. 70). The treatment approach isalso called client-centered because since patients assume the role oftherapists while doctors’ act as clients. He or she revisitspossible relationship issues with parents or other significant peoplethat could have caused the present psychological issues. The theoryclaims that conditions of parental love during childhood can make anindividual suffer from incongruence during adulthood. In turn, suchrepression or denial feelings and thoughts may necessitate anindividual to seek counseling service (Wampold, 2001, p. 73).

Behaviorismcounseling theory focuses on analyzes objective behaviors of apatient through either experimental or rigorous testing. Some of thekey contributors in the research included John Locke (Blank slate),Ivan Pavlov (Classical Conditioning), John Watson (Learned Neuroses)and B. F. Skinner (Operant Conditioning) (Wampold, 2001, p. 78). Inboth psychoanalytic and Rogerianism counseling approaches, therapistsbase treatment on the thoughts of patients while behaviorism methodfocuses on patients’ characteristics. Besides, patients’condition is stabilized through punishment and rewards. For example,a reward can enhance patients’ determination to behave in a desiredmanner while treatment is adjusted gradually to match the smallgradual changes (Wampold, 2001, p. 79).


Accordingto Albert Ellis, Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is one ofthe effective behaviorism treatment techniques. The approachemphasizes on observing and correcting distorted, dysfunctional,unrealistic and irrational though thoughts, behaviors and feelings.Therapists aim to achieve this goal through providing patients with aconducive environment for nurturing these characteristics. In manycases, patients may accept to change their behavior patternsunconditionally (Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010, 28). However,therapists and other significant persons interested with ensuringpatients pursue desired changes often give incentives. Therapists mayalso focus on assisting patients to develop rational thoughts, whichmay in turn nurture authenticity. Ellis’ REBT therapy approachadvocates that comprehending belief system of patients is the mostimperative step to addressing undesirable behaviors since theyinfluence an individual’s self-perception (Prochaska &ampNorcross, 2010, p. 29). For example, an individual oppressed by lowself-esteem could be harboring a belief that they are inferior toother individuals. Similarly, the way a patient speaks can help tounderstand his or her belief and philosophy system (Prochaska &ampNorcross, 2010, p. 31).

Accordingto the psychoanalytic theory, the desire for achieving happinessmotivates human beings. This treatment approach differs from thebehavioral system, which advocates that individuals should be forcedto behave in a given way through stipulating conditions or givingthem incentives. Instead, it describes human beings as persons withinborn self-drive that motivates them to behave in a given manner.Freud also classified human motivation into three classes, whichincluded superego, Id, and ego. The id is the natural and unconsciousurge in children that enables them to get their basic requirementsaccomplished. On the other hand, ego is a realistic principle thatrestricts desires id creates because it understands that they couldhave a negative effect in the future (Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010,p. 57). At approximately five years old, children develop theSuper-Ego that functions as the conscience. Irrespective ofprevailing circumstances, super-ego restricts an individual fromengaging in unethical behaviors that may cause problems in thefuture. The philosophy also claims that common problems humansexperience originate from unresolved problems individuals underwentduring early childhood. Therapists conduct catharsis, which is aprocedure of activating suppressed emotions. The aim of revisiting apatient’s past emotions is changing their behaviors andself-perceptions (Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010, p. 64). Therapyoffered using the method is long-term and centers on analyzingunconscious problems through transference, interpretation, freeassociation, and dream analysis. The procedure contrasts with thebehavioral counseling approach that advocates therapists to observeobjective behaviors of patients. Besides, behavioral method focuseson present strategies that can help the patient to get rid ofundesirable behaviors that they could have adopted in the past.Psychoanalytic therapists are detached, neutral and objective, asthey need to listen to the patients and view things from theirperspective. Patients can either confess their plans to thetherapists (transference) or the therapists can predict possibleactions patients might do in the future (countertransference)(Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010, p. 66).

Rogerianismphilosophy differs from both behavioral and psychoanalytic counselingapproach in that it contends the premise that “counselors knowsbest”. Therapists believe interpretation, suggestion, advice,diagnosis, and teaching are not effective procedures for addressingpatients’ problems (Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010, p. 71). Second,they argue that clients can resolve their personal problems withoutseeking direct assistance as individuals understand the roots oftheir respective problems. Lastly, patient-centered treatment focuseson problems instead of individuals. Rogerianism stresses that thetreatment is a journey for two imperfect persons. This makes itpossible for patients to assume the position of the therapist, and atherapist to become a patient at some point during counseling(Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010, p. 73). In other words, patients canovercome issues independently when they are engaged in a beneficialhealing relationship. The healing process is expedited by the naturaldesire of an individual to develop self-actualization attitude. Acounselor only requires creating a “growth-promoting”environment. Both behavioral and psychoanalytic counselling,therapists suggest suitable treatment approach towards a clientthrough analyzing their past relationships, but patient-centeredtreatment strategy allow patients to suggest treatment approachesthat can fit their personal goals best (Prochaska &amp Norcross,2010, p. 81).


Rogerianismtheory suggests that human nature is essential composed ofcharacteristics such as realism, rational, positive, constructive,full of potential, forward moving, cooperative and trustworthy. Thetheory also asserts that experience is an important part of everyhuman being as patients are the best therapists for determiningpersonal problems. On the contrary, psychoanalytic theory claims thatpersons suffering from either psychological or emotional behaviorsare suffering from problems that they cannot solve on their own. Theproblems originate from experiences they underwent during childhood(Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010, p. 90). Similarly, behavioral theoryclaims that patients require professional assistance because theproblems is beyond their ability to solve it. Behavior therapistsobserve patients’ objective behaviors resulting from irrationalreasoning. Common symptoms that dominate on irrational thinkersinclude regular use of words such as “ought to, should, and never”(Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010, p. 97). Desperate thinking andfrequent use of “all or nothing” statements are other irrationalstatements that treatment experts use to determine treatmentfeasibility. Freudianism also claims that humans can keep informationin the unconscious mind, which may in turn affect their personalitylater in life. This makes it essential for a doctor to focus onunderstanding a patient’s childhood experience. While behavioraltherapist observes objective characteristics patients, psychoanalytictherapists places patients’ in a dreamlike state that enables torevisit their childhood experiences (Prochaska &amp Norcross, 2010,p. 104).


Psychoanalyticstresses on understanding a patient’s past as unconscious memoryhas a strong influence on one’s life during adulthood. Freudproposes that treatment experts should considers both past andpresent events when designing a medical care plan. This contradictswith patient-centered treatment approach that emphasizes focusing onthe present issues. In addition, psychoanalytic theory contrasts withbehaviorism philosophy as the latter emphasizes on exploringbehavioral association between the patient and significant others(Wampold, 2001, p. 112).

Principlesof treatment

Psychoanalysisis created such that it can assist an individual to revisit his orher past. Patients need to revisit their past in order to explorepossible experiences that may have contributed to presentpsychological or emotional instability. Therapists gather informationthrough establishing a close relationship with the patients. Inaddition, they also detect any form of resistance and persuadeclients to open up. Freud proposed that therapists should beempathetic in order to persuade patients to tell them their entirestory. Several patients’ problems may be associated to a variety ofreasons. However, Freudianism proposes that therapists should addresseach problem at a time (Wampold, 2001, p. 126). On the contrary,person-centered therapy advocates that therapists should have apositive attitude towards their patients. The theory argues thatpositive regards make therapists acquire a self-experience perceptionthat another person. The experience makes a person develop respect,linking and warmth to accept a client’s situation. This contrastswith the Freudian theory that requires therapists to assume a centralposition as he or she listens to patients’ recount. Psychoanalysistherapy asserts that doctors should remain aloof from patients’emotion so that they can perceive reality and the real cause ofdisturbance (Wampold, 2001, p. 127). Otherwise, if therapists areempathetic with patients, they are likely to fall victim of patients’biased perception of issues that could be the cause of their presentproblems. Second, patient-centered treatment advocates that patient’sshould maintain a positive self-regard assertiveness even if itdiffers from other significant persons. However, Freudianismadvocates standardization of emotional analysis. Similarly,behaviorism does not focus on the patient’s perception towards agiven situation. Therapists observe clients’ objective behaviorwithout addressing contextual-situational conditions that causes anegative effect on the patients’ lives (Wampold, 2001, p. 128). Inaddition, therapists determine the patients’ mental problems byusing ethnocentric mental health care approach. This implies thattreatment experts are not interested with the phenomenologicaleffects that could have created the problem. They assume that it ispossible to overcome a given problem through correcting the cause ofpresent health issues. Several physicians criticizebehaviorism-counselling approach as a short-term method for findingsolutions to address given issues that could be disturbing a patientsince they do not reach out to the bottom of the issue (Wampold,2001, p. 129).

Freewill versus determinism

Themodern psychology emphasizes on human nature image, which addressesthe contentious issue of free will versus determinism. According toFreudianism and Behaviorism counseling philosophies, man has nocontrol over his animalistic emotions thus their immediateenvironment determines them. This implies that humans cannot overcomebiological urges that may liberate them from the awful grip of eitherenvironmental or biological forces (Ali, 1995, p. 59). The theorists,Freud in particular, believe that a person’s personality is alreadyestablished within the first six years of living. The personality ispermanent, and it influences the way people behaves, thinks and feels(Ali, 1995, p. 62). Nonetheless, Rogerianism contends that humanshave a free will to liberate themselves from the environmentalinfluences that could make them develop awful feelings. This meansthat humans can choose between good and evil action irrespective ofthe external and internal factors. The philosophy advocates thathumans can use their faith in God to reduce pressure and other formsof hatred that creates animalistic urges such as killing, raping andstealing among other negative environmental and animalistic desires(Ali, 1995, p. 63).


Forany centuries, psychologist believes that the natural environmentplays an essential role in determining human personality. Accordingto psychoanalysts, humans are naturally evil. However, behaviorismcounseling holds that humans have no nature hence, they can eitherchoose to be moral or immoral. It all depends on an individual’sdesire (Ali, 1995, p. 61). Unfortunately, humans focus so much onaccumulating wealth such that they engage in immoral acts in theirattempt to amass bigger wealth. Behaviorism theory of counsellingclaims that humans can choose to quit undesirable behaviors if theyhave a reason or potential benefit they would get from theconsequence of such an event (Ali, 1995, p. 62). For example, a drugpeddler may decide to give up on illegal business at a given stage.On the other hand, Rogerianism counseling philosophy asserts that manis naturally good, but can engage in immoral activities depending onexisting circumstances. If humans can get what they need usinglegitimate means, and without putting using too much effort, theywould go for the moral approach. However, the same individuals woulduse corrupt or illegitimate means to achieve their goals if they haveno alternative means of accomplishing their desired goals. Forinstance, a person looking for employment would first apply for a jobthat he or she has trained. The first step aims at getting the jobusing legitimate means (Ali, 1995, p. 62). Nonetheless, the applicantmight resolve to bribe if it becomes necessary for them to get thejob.

Locusof influence

Freudianismargues that the center of human mental control or locus is abiological, but unconscious part of the brains that humans can onlyaccess when dreaming or through intensive procedures such asmeditation. On the contrary, behaviorism advocates that the externalenvironment influence human behavior (Ali, 1995, p. 62). For example,a person suffering from stress, hatred or even desire to commitsuicide can change his or her thought if they are placed in anotherplace where they can relate with jovial and motivated persons.Similarly, a determined person can become lazy or develop evilthoughts if they stay in the company with that condone bad behaviors(Ali, 1995, p. 62). Conversely, Rogerianism counseling argues thatpeople can be perfect irrespective of their childhood events, friendsand other surrounding circumstances since they have the power tochoose between good and evil. Similarly, they can choose to withholdunpleasant pressures that keep them sad or they may opt to let go ofbad feelings indefinitely (Ali, 1995, p. 63).


Prochaska,J. O., &amp Norcross, J. C. (2010). Systemsof psychotherapy: A transtheoretical analysis.Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Pub.

Wampold,B. E. (2001). The great psychotherapy debate: Models, methods andfindings. London: Routledge.

Ali,H.A. (1995). The Nature of Human Disposition: al-Ghazali`s Contribution to an ,Islamic Concept of Personality. IntellectualDiscourse,3 (1). 51-64.