Compare and Contrast Theories of Counseling

Compare and Contrast Theories of Counseling

Four Counseling Theories



Goals of Therapy


Types of Treatment


Origins of Substance Abuse


Client Characteristics for Best Fit

Behavior Theory ·                     Increasing personal choice (Corey, 2009)

·                     Creation of new conditions for learning

·                     Remove behavior that a client finds troublesome

·                     Stop an undesirable behavior that a client finds attractive.

·                     Assertiveness training

·                     Cognitive restructuring (Follette & Ruzek, 2006)

·                     Systemic desensitization

·                     Positive reinforcement (Tan, 2011)

·                     Eye movement desensitization and processing (Corey, 2009)


·                     Sociocultural conditioning (Corey, 2009)

·                     Classical conditioning (McLeod, 2010)

·                     Operant conditioning (McLeod, 2010)


·                     Individuals with social disorders such as insomnia, stress, and depression

·                     Individuals whose actions are reinforced by another (Ryan et al., 2010)

Psychoanalytic Theory ·                     Make unconscious conscious ·                     Free association

·                     Transference analysis

·                     Dream analysis (Tan, 2011)

·                     Childhood experiences causing unconscious factors that determine future behavior (Tan, 2011) ·                     Individuals with misconceptions (Kidd, 2007)

·                     Individuals who are indecisive (Kidd, 2007)

Cognitive-Behavioral Theory ·                     Identification of underlying schemas (Anonymous, 2007)

·                     Recognition of cognitive distortions

·                     Reduction of cognitive dissonance (Anonymous, 2007)

·                     Restructuring of cognitive skills (Tan, 2011)

·                     Training on coping skills

·                     Improvement of problem-solving skills (Tan, 2011)

·                     Assortative experiences of rewarding and punishment

·                     Instrumental experiences of rewards and punishment (Kidd, 2007)

·                     Individuals with inaccurate beliefs (Kidd, 2007)

·                     Incomplete beliefs

·                     Beliefs that are not coherent (Kidd, 2007)

·                     Individuals are comfortable with introspection (Counseling resource)

·                     Able to explore their psychology using a scientific method

·                     Belief in cognitive therapy

Person-Centered Theory ·                     Reduction of conditions of worth (Anonymous, 2007)

·                     Increasing congruence of experience and self

·                     Genuineness or congruence

·                     Accurate empathy that is concerned with being empathetic of the client’s perspective (Tan, 2011)

·                     Positive regard that is unconditional

·                     Exposure to environment that is wrong and not conducive (Tan, 2011)

·                     Exposure to the wrong relationship


·                     Individuals with distorted self-confidence and ego (McLeod, 2015)

·                     Individuals with social disorders such as personality disorder and depression

·                     Individuals who want to change their thinking patterns (McLeod, 2015)


Table 1: Evaluation of the four counseling theories



Comparing and contrasting the different therapeutic theories

According to Tan (2011), behavioral therapy stems from an individual’s behavior. This theory perceives human being as being the products of their interaction with the environment and their history of learning. This theory has both learning principles as well as experimental findings that are used in the treatment of various behavioral disorders. The experimental aspect of the theory makes it an empirically based therapy method. Some of the key figures associated with this theory include Arnold Lazarus, B. F. Skinner, Joseph Wolpe and Watson (Larsson, 2006: Tan, 2011). McLeod (2010) explains that in behavioral theory, symptoms of a disorder are learned through classical or operant conditioning. On the contrary, person-centered therapy was formulated by Carl Rogers. Moreover, behavioral theory considers a person as to have undergone self-actualization. Contrary, person-centered theory perceives an individual as not to have had self-actualization.

Both behavioral and psychoanalytic theories have the issues of exposure to the socio-environment that defines one’s personality. As earlier mentioned, human behavior in behavior theory is due to interaction with the environment and relationships (Tan, 2011). The same case applies for the psychoanalytic theory in which human behavior is determined by childhood experiences. However, these two theories vary due to the concept of a timeline. The behavioral theory involves wrong learning methods that consequently translate to their behavior. On the other hand, cognitive theory stipulates that human behavior is due to distortions in their cognitive functioning. However, in both cases there are aspects of hindered cognitive functioning and hence its restructuring.

The key figure in psychoanalytic theory is Sigmund Freud (Tan, 2011). This theory is concerned with an individual’s unconscious thoughts that result from their childhood, the first six years if their lives. Subsequent development of a person’s personality is determined by their first years of life. The primary principle of this theory is that human behavior is determined by unconscious factors acquired during their childhood years. Person-centered therapy accounts for the human behavior as a result of exposure to wrong environments and relationships. Therefore, an inference can be made regarding the self-concepts in both cases. However, the psychoanalytic theory accounts for the human behavior as being determined by childhood experiences which are not the case in person-centered therapy. In person-centered therapy, others impose human behavior at any point in their lifetime.

Psychoanalytic and cognitive-behavior theories differ in the sense of focus on the expression of a patient’s emotions and exploration of areas where they try to avoid. Moreover, past experiences are of key concern to the psychoanalytic theory that is not the case in cognitive theory. However, in both theories counselor and the patient’s relationships are of a pivotal role during therapy sessions. Therapeutic sessions also involve ensuring awareness.

Cognitive behavior therapy perceives the human behavior as being a continued process of learning. The human behavior is due to learning response to experiences of rewards or punishment that are acquired instrumentally or through association. Therefore, human behavior according to this theory is a product of environmental and social interaction. On the contrary, person-centered therapy perceives an individual as not to have self-actualized previously and hence seeks to achieve this aspect. In both cognitive behavior and person-centered therapy, there is the concept of determination of human behavior by other interactions. Human behavior is determined by their response to environmental and relationship interactions in cognitive behavior while in person-centered personality is determined by experiences. Moreover, both theories involve the concepts of empathy and congruence.

Suitable theory

The cognitive-behavioral theory is more effective in application compared to other theories. This inference follows from a variety of factors. For instance, the effectiveness of the application of the theory has been scientifically established. The theory is also compatible with treatment and recovery initiatives in cases of substance abuse. During therapeutic interventions, cognitive-behavioral theory requires undertaking of functional analysis. Functional analysis involves evaluation of antecedents and the consequences of a particular behavior. According to Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (1999) , performing functional analysis makes the individual therapy more suitable. Moreover, the cognitive-behavioral theory involves a process of relapse prevention making it more effective in application.



Anonymous (2007). Models of helping. Retrieved from

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (1999). Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 34.) Chapter 4—Brief Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.Available from:

Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Counseling resource. An Introduction to Cognitive Therapy & Cognitive Behavioural Approaches. Mental Health Library. Retrieved from

Follette, V. M., & Ruzek, J. I. (2006). Cognitive-behavioral therapies for trauma. New York: Guilford Press.

Holder, J. B. (2013). What are They? Comparing and Contrasting Three of the Main Counselling Approaches.

Kidd, J. M. (2007). Career counseling. Handbook of career studies, 59-78.

Larsson, B. (2006). Similarities and differences between the schools of psychotherapy. [Department of Psychology], Göteborg University.

McLeod, S. A. (2010). Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. A. (2015). Person Centered Therapy. Retrieved from

Ryan, R. M., Lynch, M. F., Vansteenkiste, M., & Deci, E. L. (2010). Motivation and autonomy in counseling, psychotherapy, and behavior change: A look at theory and practice. The Counseling Psychologist.

Tan, S. Y. (2011). Counseling and psychotherapy: A Christian perspective. Baker Academic.

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