Monday, December 3, 2012


Hello everyone! Don't forget that as you are writing your posts, you  should also be replying to your classmates ( at least three replies). You guys are doing a great job! Keep the information coming!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mindfulness Approach

     Mindfulness approach is definitely a different and unique approach to counseling.  There are 2 different approaches to Mindfulness; Acceptance ad Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). This theory is basically meditation. I feel meditation is important for individuals not only in therapy but outside of therapy too. It helps relax the client and get them in a peaceful state of mind. It really helps clients who suffer with depression and anxiety. I could see myself as a counselor use this approach with my clients even if it is for a few minutes before each session just to get in a peaceful state of mind.

This video gives a type of sound that a counselor could use during the mindfulness session:

Gestalt Theory

     The Gestalt theory is based off of the notion humans are growth-oriented. (Murdock, 2013) "Humans can't be separated  from their environments, nor can they be divided into parts (such as body and mind)." (Murdock, 2013) In Gestalt theory human behavior is motivated  by the drive to satisfy needs. The Gestalt Therapist is to frustrate the client's avoidance of self-support. The client is confronted with their attempts to get the counselor to take care of them and their reluctance to be authentic.  (Murdock, 2013) Confrontation plays a huge role in the Gestalt theory and that's what I think makes it effective.

     Personally, I really enjoy the Gestalt theory. The fact that the therapist in this theory is upfront and blunt to their client fits my personality. I believe that the theory is also very effective. It may hurt the client's feelings or not be sensitive but some people need that in order to break through to them. One of the big techniques in this theory is the empty chair technique and I believe this is a good technique. It helps the client practice what they want to say to someone who has hurt them in the past, depending on their reason why they are in counseling. While they are acting out this technique it also helps them hear what they are saying and can help the client realize what is wrong with them and not just having the counselor say it to them blatantly. I could see myself using this theory a lot and make it my primary theory.

This is an example of the empty chair technique:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Family Systems Theory

      In Family Systems Theory the family operates as a system. The family focuses on the relationships in the family and 
are interconnected. It is common to see families label one family member as the “one with the problem”. Overall there are 
four types of theories (approaches) in Family Systems Theory. The first approach is the Satir Approach, the second one is  
Structural Therapy, the third one is Strategic Therapy, and the last one is Bowen's Family Systems Theory. The Satir  
Approach emphasizes the need for human love. There are five basic life stages: Conception to birth, birth to puberty,  
puberty  to adulthood, adulthood to senior status, and senior status to death. Structural Therapy mainly focused on  
boundaries within the family. There are four stages of development: couple formation, families with young 
children, families with school-aged or adolescent children, and families with grown children. The Strategic Therapy 
focuses on repetitive patterns of communication. There are 6 life stages in this theory: The courting period, early marriage, 
childbirth and dealing with the young, middle marriage, weaning parents from children, and retirement and old age.Lastly, 
the Bowen's Family Systems Theory focuses on differentiation and balancing the 2 natural forced of individuality and
      As a future counselor, I can see myself using this theory on families but do not think I would actually use it frequently.
I enjoy the fact that this theory has many options and interventions to use. I would rather work with younger children and  
this theory could help understand a child's home life and where they enact unhealthy behaviors. I enjoyed learning about 
this theory but like I have said I do not think I would use it often. From a Christian persepective, it does have relevance 
support in relation to the Bible which is a postive for Christian counselors. But it is not biased to just the Christian 
background because it can be used for secular clients too. I think that is an important factor in counseling because not 
everyone is going to be a Christian counselor or have clients that are Christian, it is important to be flexible between the 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Operant Conditioning

B. F. Skinner developed a learning model which behavior is maintained depending on it's consequences (Murdock, 2013). Reinforcers increase the behaviors. In the video below there is an example of positive reinforcers where chocolate is used every time a good behavior is displayed.
I thought this was a funny clip, and wanted to share. Skip to the 2:12 mark.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feminist Therapy

Feminist Therapy was not developed by any one individual, it stemmed from the feminist movement and philosophy.  The women of the feminist movement were not satisfied with the traditional therapies, so they felt that they should create their own. Feminist Therapy pays particular attention to women oppression, violence against women and misogyny.

Feminist Therapy is committed to help women understand their values by advocating for equality on their behalf. It is a collaborative process in which the therapist and client establish the goals, direction and pace of therapy (Murdock, 2013). Their main goal is to create feminist ideals, and also to teach that women do have power within themselves.

There are criticism toward this therapy for the obvious reasons, it is only geared towards women. Though feminists would argue and say it can be used on all clients, it is not really appropriate to use on males. I am not a radical feminist, but I do believe in female empowerment and the elimination of oppression on women of all races, but I do not believe that this therapy solely can help every woman with their particular situation because it might not relate to any of the therapist ideals.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950’s. REBT is based on the form of psychotherapy that is based on our lives and beliefs. The goal for REBT is happiness that the majority of our expecting of happiness. The website is describing the goal of happiness that we want to be happy whether we are alone or with others; we want to get along with others; we want to be well informed; and we want to live life well.  However, when the goals are blocked, the reaction will be different according to people.  Another goal of REBT is to help people change the irrational beliefs to rational belief with changing irrational beliefs with working of therapy.

The ABC model is major interventionof the REBT with reactions when the goals are blocked.  The A is stands for activating events, the B is stands for the beliefs, and C is stands for the consequences in the model. Ellis developed the ABC model to teach people the beliefs with emotional and behavioral responses from what is happen, what you belief about the situation and what your emotional reaction to the belief is. In the ABC model, the activating event does not cause consequences, but the belief causes consequences.

REBT is effective therapy that is reducing emotional pain, and it is most practical therapy today. It is clear therapy that brings effect on the psychotherapy.

Family Systen Therapy

Family Therapy was developed by Virginia Satir. She believed that an open and reciprocal sharing of emotions such as affection, feelings, and love bring the healthy family life.

Caring and acceptance by others are key elements in the relationship with people when they face to the fears and open their hearts. Love and nurturance are the most important healing aspects of therapy.

The goal is to deal with family pain from the dysfunctional relationship such as disappointment and distrust. It can affect the pained marital relationship and dysfunctional parenting. The uses of repetitious, circular and predictable communication patterns influence the way of interacting to achieve balance in relationship.
Satir’s model of family therapy is part of general system theory that describes actions, reactions, and interactions among set of essential variables to accomplish the desired outcome. The desired outcome includes increase self-esteem, provides self-accountability, and moves a person toward congruence between the self and others.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy is developed by an Australian family therapist Michael White and a New Zealand family therapist David Epston in late 1980’s. Our stories of life talk about who we are, why we are here, and what we can do from our lives. When we see ourselves who are in healthy stories, we can change our lives and develop ourselves as healthy life stories.

            Narrative Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is using narratives, and it is based on therapy and storytelling of one’s experiences, and also has specific meaning with using stories. Narrative Therapy holds identities that are shaped by the accounts of our lives that are found in the stories. Narrative therapy reflects multistories of our identities and related meanings.

            A meaning of Narrative Therapy relates to relatively recent way of thinking about the nature of human life and knowledge, and it believes there is no one objective ‘truth’ and there are multiple interpretations. Therefore, therapy has limitations of knowing something, and it is only interpretation of one’s perspective of other person’s experience. In other words, we are focusing on the process of interpretation from related meaning of experience.

            Narrative context are made up of event occurring overtime. Important aspects of Narrative Therapy philosophy is analysis of social power. According to the Murdock (2013), it states that the power and knowledge are inseparable because of the phrase “a domain of knowledge is a domain of power and domain of power is a domain of knowledge.” (p.495).

            For the key constructs, a series of stories are created over time through attempts to connect event in our experiences and those events become privileged and dominant story which is problem saturated story. Adjectives of thinness that contains few events and alternative stories and thickness that contains very elaborate and rich in nature refer to the qualities of the stories that people tell about. In the conversation, people talk about some event and experience. The event has them and construction through the time processing. Through the externalizing conversation, people can name the problem to assess effects of life. They can know how it works in the life relates to earliest history. The unique outcome refers that the event is not a part of story, but it become part of preferred story as a therapy goal. This construct use many detailed questions to have description of outcomes as an action, reflection, and new experience. Re-authoring is affected identities and the meanings that were connected each other. However, Narrative therapy focuses on the identities than related meaning. The experience and ability can use as making new story, and it assist to resolve problems.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Person-Centered Therapy

Person-Centered Therapy was developed by Carl Rogers. He was one of the first theorists to name the individuals who sought out for therapy as the client. The basic philosophy of PC theory is that humans are inherently good and have an innate need to grow. PC theorists believe that the only motivation of human behavior is the tendency to grow to full potential in constructive, positive ways (Murdock, 2013). According to Rogers, a healthy person is one who is open to experiences, are creative and are risk takers.

Therapists are usually known to be authoritative, PC therapists on the other hand are more equal with their clients serving more as a companion. The therapist's goal is to get the client to achieve his or her full potential or as Murdock (2013) states move from incongruent to congruent. PC therapists like to feel empathetic to the client's situation, they believe that if they feel what the client feel no judgments will be made.

What I find interesting about this theory is how individualistic it can be. It hardly dives into the person's surroundings, family or friends. How the environment plays a role in a client's behavior is key, but not so much in this theory. I do appreciate how the PC theory emphasizes on the development of the self, after all that is an essential purpose for counseling in general.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy was originally founded by Michael White and David Epston. These two individuals developed this theory because they believed that all individuals told life stories that dominated their lives. "Life is a process of storytelling" (Murdock, 2013). This theory is considered playful and takes on an optimistic approach. Narrative therapists believe that clients come into the counseling session with a problem-saturated story that dominates their lives. With the story the client tells, there is a problem that emerges. The therapist will work with the client in a co-operative relationship to re-author, or re-focus, the client's attention to a preferred narrative. Getting the client to re-author their dominant story to a preferred narrative is the ultimate goal of this theory. "By forgetting our failures, by looking toward the future with blithe optimism, by ignoring history to an extent, we have the luxury of the permanent fresh start and the opportunity to reinvent ourselves each day (Casnocha, 2006).

There are many advantages to using this type of therapy. The first, most beneficial reason to using this type of therapy is that it allows the client to search his or her past and find a hidden problem that the client finds is dominating their lives. The past can be painful for the client, and the client may find relief when they are able to edit and rewrite their story. Another advantage to using this theory is that it looks at the client's strengths and opportunities for growth rather than weaknesses and failures. This may incline the client to begin the process of change and re-authoring. While there are various other advantages to this therapy, there are also some disadvantages. One of them being that it is a relatively new theory. This means that there is not many research articles that support using this therapy as a stand-alone theory. There also might be some discrepancy when it comes to using this theory with families. Since family therapy might want to work on the family as a unit, it might be hard to use narrative therapy when dealing with the relationships aspects of the family.

More information on this theory can be found at this website:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Person-Centered Theory

Person-Centered Theory is founded by Carl Rogers. The basic premise for this theory is that human beings are inherently good (Murdock, 2013). Person-Centered Theory discusses how human beings enter wholeness when they are truly free to become what he most deeply is. The evil that is brought upon the client is not from the client himself, but from the experiences in the environment that surrounds the client. "The clients are self-directing and able to accept full responsibility for their actions" (2013). Clients have to be in a state of incongruence in order to receive this type of counseling.

I believe that person-centered therapy has many advantages and disadvantages to it. It can be beneficial because it puts the client at the center of the change needed in his or her life. They are not considered "victims" of circumstances, and can bring on the change in their own lives. I like that this theory identifies a healthy person as a congruent person, which means the client's perception of self is consistent with what they experience. Person-centered therapy states that the "good life isa process not a destination" (Murdock,2013). This will give the client a mindset that will allow them to make the change they need in their life.

 The arguments against using this theory is that it is highly optimistic. Jeremiah 17:9 states, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand that?" As a Christian counselor, we have to look at how we were born into sin. With this mentality, we will be able to use biblical counseling in order for it to be Christ-centered. This can be a big disadvantage as a Christ follower. 

Carl Rogers on Person-Centered Therapy

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gestalt Theory: Growth Toward What?

Gestalt theory assumes that the primary motivation behind human behavior is the innate tendency for humans to satisfy both biological and psychological needs (Murdock, p. 206). Due to a Person Centered-esque valuing process, human beings discriminate between what is good and bad for them, which is said to lead to acceptance of the good and rejection of the bad. In addition, Crocker, 1999 as is cited in the Murdock text propounds that organismic regulate is innate, and " humans adapt easily to the changing environment" (p. 206).

I don't know if it is as easy as Crocker says to adapt in ways that are positive. We live in a world full of counter examples. Six out of eight Americans say they are over stressed, eating disorders run rampant amongst a population of men and women who feel inadequate or at a loss of control, and the abuse of substances leave individuals and families in shambles. I don't know that anyone would say that these coping strategies and serious illnesses are a shift toward positive or optimal functioning of the organism. Perhaps it would be better to say that when given the choice between alternatives the organism chooses what is apparently "good" for it. But if the experience is only apparently good to whom or what do we turn for the standard of good? Is it the GT therapist? The society they believe has become toxic to human growth? Or does the person simply stick with what feels right, in effect becoming their own standard of truth and proper functioning?

Answers cannot come from a closed and corrupt system. In order to find a standard of health we must look outside of ourselves, we need a hypodermic needle to inoculate us against the ever growing cancer of self-imputed internal certitude that weakens us toward growth. GT theorist seem to promote growth, but growth toward what? What is the standard of health in an ill system? Perhaps before speaking about things like growth we should first seek to better understand the object of growth by asking questions such as, "what is a person?"


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Brings You To See Me Today?

Welcome! Counseling is a rich and diverse field that serves an even more diverse population of people. The human condition, which is a fancy way of conceptualizing the various aspects of the human experience that includes such factors as meaning, gratification, anxiousness, curiosity, doubt, and spirituality in conjunction with individual factors like ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religiosity make it necessary for professionals to have a rather plenteous "bag-o-tools" to work with when servicing their clients. Enter, counseling theories.
This blog is devoted to the exploration of the expansive area of counseling research regarding theoretical approaches to counseling as well as the broader areas of the profession such as ethics, education, and current developments. These postings are the combined efforts of students currently enrolled in the Masters of Professional Counseling program at Liberty University located in Lynchburg Virginia. Thank you for taking the time to view, comment, and or subscribe. We hope your time with us will enrich your perception and understanding of counseling theories and practice.


Liberty University Center For Counseling And Family Studies