My first blog focused on counselling and its benefits. This one focuses more on the different types of counselling available and how they differ. Many people are unaware of the different counselling techniques that are offered to them when they sign up to see a therapist. Those who have some knowledge will perhaps be more familiar with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is used by many medical practitioners and seen as a quick fix six week course. Incorporated into my six module program are both CBT and Person-Centred Counselling techniques as I believe both can be beneficial for helping the client learn more about themselves and their situation.
Person-Centred Therapy developed by Carl Rogers (1902-1987) in the 1940’s, held the belief that individuals are positively motivated from birth and possess the ability to uncover the solutions to their problems if offered the correct conditions. It was a theory that challenged the counsellor-led practises of its time, namely Behaviourism and Psychoanalysis, which suggested that human beings require professional direction.
Person Centred counselling is based on the assumption that human beings continually strive for self-improvement in order to be the best possible person that they can be. Rogers believed that an individual who is given the correct love and support in their formative years will grow up to trust their real, or core-self, and thus go on to lead satisfying and fully functioning lives. Should individuals be unlucky enough to be denied these self-affirming attitudes, their belief in their ability to make the correct decisions may suffer and lead them to look to significant others for approval and guidance.
CBT originates from the belief that individuals are born as blank canvases and that all thoughts and behaviours are learned. Counsellors work in a structured, directive way to change maladaptive thought patterns into more positive ones. By setting their client aims and goals, often in the form of homework, they are able to correct unwanted negative thoughts and responses.
Currently, CBT is the predominant type of counselling used by the National Health Service NHS, with an estimated £173m a year being invested in its training. Whilst CBT has been criticised for putting a “sticking plaster” on problems rather than treating the root cause, it is perhaps fair to suggest that the NHS are more comfortable with investing in CBT for its ability to compress it’s treatment into six hourly sessions. Person-Centred and Psychodynamic therapies usually take a lot longer.
In my opinion there are benefits to both forms of counselling and I have been known to use both techniques with my clients dependant on their needs.
I use person-centred counselling during my first session as this offers the client the opportunity to express their thoughts and emotions in a safe, empathic and non-judgemental environment. The client is offered the chance to release the pain that they are feeling and work towards making sense of their current situation. This is a vital stage in the relationship between client and counsellor in order to build trust and rapport. The person-centred approach is maintained towards my clients during the whole counselling and mentoring experience.
I dedicate one of my modules to CBT as for many it is more tangible than Person-centred approach. It offers the client focus and a chance to practise some techniques after the session is over. Perhaps the most notable benefit to CBT is to bring about a change in attitude towards their difficulties and in the specific case of my subject area, it can help the client re-frame the condition and the challenges that their child presents on an everyday basis. For example, dealing with a child’s meltdown, whilst extremely testing and often distressing, can actually bring about an opportunity for the parent to learn more about themselves and their responses to stressful situations, which in turn leads to self-awareness, personal growth and increased resilience. It is possible to shift our attitude from the doom and gloom of our predicament to something more positive.