Analyse strengths and limitations of any two approaches in counseling.

Define counseling

  • Outline the different approaches in counseling.
  • Pwell of the 2 particular approaches

There are different counseling approaches and their main goal being that of helping a client from any presenting problem/s he/she might be encountering. The approaches in counseling include Psychodynamic approaches of Freud's Instinct Theory. The analytic Theory of Carl Gustav Jung, Object Relations, Theory of klein, Winnicott and Fairbairn, the Primal Theory of Authert Janov and the Ethno-Psychoanalysis in African Settings by K Peltzer. The other branch of approaches in counseling is the humanistic approaches which includes the works of Carl Rogers with Person-Centered approach, Fritz Perls of Gestalt theories and existentialists like Rollo May, Irvn Yalom and Frankl's Logotherapy. Behaviorists like Burrhus Frederick Skinner and Watsons Canditianed. Behaviorism Approaches are also some of the approaches used in counseling. According to my discussion of the above topic I am going to focus on the two approaches of existential and psychodynamic therapies in counseling. Existentialism was a term coined by the French philosopher Jean - Paul Sartre (1905-1980) which is a synthesis of psychology and philosophy.

Irvin Yalom defines existential psychotherapy as a dynamic approach to therapy which focuses on the concerns that are rooted in the individual's existence. According to E-van Deurzen-Smith of exploration of what can make like meaningful. This is further alluded by Frankl (1969) cited by Hiles (2000) that the human being has a will to meaning.

The major proponents of Existentialism were Rollo May who introduced the three components of being in the world which are "Umwelt" which is the natural world of biological urge and drive "Mitwelt" which is the social aspect, interactive and interpersonal aspect of existence and eh "Eigenmelt" which is the subject world of self. The other proponent was Victor Frankl who dealt on human beings search for meaning in existence and also Yalom's existentialism which dealt with death, freedom, isolation and meaningless. The other proponents of existentialism wre Ludmig Binswanger, Medard Boss and Paul Tillich.

According to Park (2003) existential approach has six key concepts which are the capacity for self awareness, freedom and responsibility, striving for identity and relationship to others, the search for meaning, and anxiety as a condition of living and lastly awareness of death and non-being. During therapy the counselor can help the client to be self aware by breaking the client's sense of hopelessness and powerlessness. For example, a client who is HIV positive might have that sense of hopelessness and powerless over self such that he/she might be neglecting himself/herself "waiting for death". The counselor's role is to help the client dispel that sense of helplessness and powerlessness in the client by giving the client information on the spread and management and prevention of the HIV virus. This management information might be through having good nutrition and the dangers of re-infection if they are going to have unprotected sex and also by taking drugs which cannot cure the virus but will make them live a normal life without the virus degenerating into the loss of a person's life. By giving the client this information, the counselor would have helped the client to be aware of their status and how they are to live positively with HIV which will help the client to be hopeless and powerless over the self.

According to Park (2003) people are free beings and must accept responsibility for their actions. During existential therapy the above concept of freedom and responsibility is important for example when the counselor is counseling a woman who is physically abused by her husband. The client is assisted by the counselor to recognize the choices she can make and take responsibility for her choices. She can make and take responsibility for her choices. If the client feels that she can not afford to report the husband to the authorities for fear of losing her marriage and children, if they have any the counselor can give the client an insight into this route by telling her that either she is always going to be abused as long as she is in the marriage or she might end up killed through being abused by her husband. The other alternative which the counselor can give the client is to tell the husband to stop the abuse or come with him for counseling or report him to the authorities of file for divorce. The choice the client makes must take responsibility of them. According to Corey (1991) freedom entails responsibility for one's life and living fully and accepting the consequences of our life is part of the search for meaning.

Human beings have a concern to presence their uniqueness and identity that is why they strive to identity with others and relate well with others. During existential therapy the counselor can help the client understand his/her subjective world through being emphatic and showing concern and not view the client as being sick. For example a counselor might be assisting a client who is disabled and is having problems to identify with the self and relate to living. The client by being aware of this will fully enjoy her/his life and not have neurotic anxiety.

According to May and Yalom (2000) existentialist therapy deals with ultimate issues in life and present their clients with opportunities to explore their values life styles in depth. The realities of death and loss become more significant factors and concerns. After participating in therapy clients often let go past patterns, customers and beliefs and came to find a different focus for their lives. The other strength of existential therapy is that they provide a framework for other farms of clients for example alcoholics anonymous which will encourage concepts of encounter and responsibility which are essential in psychodrama; this is according to avrahamin (1995)

Also according to Anton and Visses 919970 the versatility of existential theory or approach in groups is one strength. For example, when working with cancer patient existentialism has been combined with cognitive theory as well as experimental activities to produce positive results. Strength of the existential therapy according to pack-brown is that they are applicant to individuals from a wide range of cultures especially African-American women who have suffered because of open or subtle prejudice and discrimination. They also focus on one's reason for being and the unavoidable exigencies of life in an unpredictable world.

According to Lowenstein (1993) Existential therapy has limitations in that it is most useful and beneficial to working with groups who are verbal who can communicate effectively and are not afraid to comfort issues that are painful. Those clients who can not communicate well and are afraid of confronting painful issues will not be helped in the existential therapy. The other weakness of existential approaches is that counselor who is not mature and have not much life experiences will find it difficult to train for essential therapy. It also needs close supervision to practice this approach this according to Deurzen-Smith (1997). The other limitation is that existential therapy is broadly based and do not generally deal with specific behaviors or concerns. Clients who need information or immediate answers are not good candidates for this approach lastly existential approach in counseling has limited applicability outside of counseling and psychotherapy settings only psycho educational, task and work groups?

The most important element of the existential movement is that it reacts against the tendency to identify therapy with a set of techniques. In human beings search for meaning base therapeutic practice on an understanding of what makes men and women human beings.

As mentioned earlier, the other counseling approach the writer is going to look at is the psychodynamic approach. Psychodynamic therapies are useful in individuals, group, couples and organization counseling and analysis. The major contribution of psychodynamic therapies was in the area of child development and its relationship to later adult development. There are various categories of psychodynamic approaches pine (1988) quoted from Mpofu (2001) proposed a four group classification of psychoanalytic approaches namely orthodox or classical psychoanalysis, self psychology, ego psychology and object relations. On the other hand Greenberg et al (1983) categorized psychodynamic approaches into two broad groupings which are drive structure theories and relational structure theories.

Freud's instant theory object relations are mainly based on the study of attachment in behaviour in childhood. There are four types of attachment identified by Bowl by (1982) which determine the human nature of a person. The first type of attachment is secure attachment that is when the attachment figure is available, responsive, consistent and sensitive. The second type of attachment is resistance attachment, when the child feels in certain whether the attachment figure is being available and responsive. Thirdly there is avoidant attachment where the child ha little or no confidence that he/she will be responded to in a helpful way but rather expects to be rebuffed and lastly the ambivalent attachment, whereby the attachment figure oscillates between one's protection and neglect or abuse. The instinct therapy of Freud relied on the superego determined the nature of the human being. Freud's model hold that a, new born intact is driven by animal instincts such as hunger, thirst and pleasure. With this instinct model relationship with other objects becomes secondary after satisfying the primary instincts. According to Melaine Klein (1953) object relations believed that human interactions influenced the psychological development of the individual for example, if the child according to object relation had a secure attachment during infancy he/she tends to be more positive in their effect and confident and persistent in problem solving. Freud's instinct theory has two stages of development which are psycho sexual and psychosocial. In psycho sexual development there are developmental stages which are oral, which is firs year of life, the oral stage from one year to three years the phallic stage from three years to six years. The psychosocial development has two stages mainly latency stage form six years to twelve years and the genital stage from twelve years to eighteen years. The instinct theory of Freud and Carl Jung's analytic theory were of the view that sexual drives are responsible for the development of the person from infancy to adulthood.

There is a similarity between the object relations theory and other psychodynamic therapies in that they all deal with early childhood development and its relationship to later adult development which becomes its major strength as an approach used in counseling.

Psychodynamic therapies like the instinct theory the individual is transformed through free association. During the transformation of the person, in psychodynamic therapy the goal is to strengthen the ego so that behaviour is based moreon reality and less no instinctual cravings. The other strength of using the psychodynamic approach in counseling is that it aims to help clients gain insight into their problems, increase their awareness to change and again rational control over their lives, foe example, a person may came for counseling after being referred or voluntarily because he/she has behaviour problems. The theory also seeks to explore the unconscious intra-psychic and inter-personal conflicts that are preventing further healthy development. When clients came for counseling the counselors use game useful techniques of interpretation. For example, when the child plays with dolls and the child has been sexually abused the dolls are used to interpret what the child went through. The counselor then would interpret by observing the verbal and non-verbal communication of the child thus succeeding in helping the client.

However the psychodynamic approaches contributed much in human development, when it propounded that human nature is very deterministic because it assumes human nature follows an inevitable pre-planned path. This it claims that the child begets the adult because all behaviour is determined, shaped and influenced largely by childhood experiences, which means that the first five/six years of an individual life influence the subsequent life of the individual. The major limitations of the psychodynamic approaches is that it requires several long sessions with the client where in a counselor extracts information from the client about his/her relationship with parents, or what happened in the client's family environment.

The other limitation of the approach rest in the techniques of therapy used wherein the counselor played a passive role and the emphasis on the past events for information on the client. Freud as the grand parent of psychodynamic approaches formulated his ideas from a medical standpoint, and assumed that human beings have pathology and need cure from his/her malady. But in counseling we assume people are fund mentally healthy beings that need the support of others to help them cope with their daily life.

Above all the other theoretical approaches have benefited either because some one was unhappy about same concepts or because there was a paradigm shift that led to other theories developing. It is great to note that some of the psychodynamic concepts have been absorbed into other theories though under different names or some terminology applied differently. The major contribution of psychodynamic approaches was in the area of child development and its relationship to later adult development.


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