Counseling Methods Survey

Theories/Theorists & Terminology*


I. Theories and Theorists

(The following people are not all pure types)

A. Psychoanalytic

1. Freud, Sigmund: This man is the founder of psychoanalysis, and believed religion to be "the universal obessional neurosis of humanity." He considered sexual impulses to be a primary source of motivation for man, and that mental activity is essentially unconscious; i.e., that the unconscious is a hidden reservoir of the mind which is filled with drives and impulses which govern a person's thinking and behavior. .

2. Adler, Alfred: The first well-known dissenter from Freud's school of thought. Adler became the father of what he called "individual psychology." He shifted the motivational emphasis from biological instincts to social relationships. He believed man's primary motivation to be a "will to power." This is based upon his conception of the universal need of children to be dependent upon adults. Such dependency produces feelings of inadequacy and inferiority which each must strive to overcome. (Adler is also considered a humanist.)

3. Jung, Carl: Here is another dissenter from Freud's school who de-emphasized the role of sex in personality development. Jung also disagreed on the importance of dealing with an individual's past. He submitted that attention must be given to man's religious, aesthetic, and other such needs. Thus, in Jung we see the seeds of modern day existentialism being planted. He is also noted for his work with the concepts of introversion/extroversion and archetypes.

4. Horney, Karen: She is the first person to talk about a self-concept, and thus we can see in her approach the roots of the third force theorists. Problems are considered to stem from a "basic anxiety" that may be produced in individuals if they are not reared in an accepting environment. Therapy consists of diminishing discrepancies between one's ideal-self and self-concept.

5. Sullivan, Harry S.: The term "interpersonal anxiety" was coined by this man to express his belief that man's greatest need is for satisfactory relationships with others. But these basic relationship needs are not considered to be linked to physiological needs. Sullivan was the first to formally construct a motivational hierarchy of physiological needs.

6. Erikson, Erik: He designed what are called the eight stages of ego development. Each stage is said to be dependent upon the former. Counseling centers around identifying one's present stage of development and working toward the next.

7. Fromm, Erich: His work was grounded in Freudian psychoanalytic theory, but evolved into humanistic psychology. In his books Escape From Freedom and The Art of Loving , Fromm sets forth his idea that man fears being independent, and therefore, seeks structure for security. Fromm is a total humanist, expander of secular existentialism, and initially developed the self-love concepts adapted by today's church.

8. Berne, Eric: This man is the father of "transactional analysis." Therapy consists of analyzing and categorizing communication "bits" as expressing certain roles. The goal is the understanding of why communication fails and making appropriate adjustments. The roles (parent, adult, and child) are comparable to the psychoanalytic personality structures (super-ego, ego, and id, respectively).

9. Harris, Thomas: He is a popular transactional analyst who wrote the book I'm OK, You're OK .

B. Behavioristic

1. Watson, J. B.: As an originator of behaviorism, Watson stressed a reductionistic approach to the study of human behavior. Reacting to the use of unseen constructs to explain behavior, he opted for operationally defined constructs.

2. Skinner, B. F.: This man is most responsible for popularizing behavioristic philosophy. He authored Walden II , a book describing a utopian society based upon this approach to controlling human behavior. He firmly asserts that man can be wholly understood and controlled through the basic principles of learning (once they are discovered). Motivation is seen as a purely hedonistic matter.

3. Wolpe, Joseph: A method called "systematic desensitization" has been developed by Wolpe to deal with fear. In this approach, responses prohibitive of fear are elicited and then the previously fear producing stimulus is gradually introduced into the situation. Thus, given the same stimulus, the new response is supposedly substituted for the fear response.

4. Glasser, William: The father of "reality therapy" has been well accepted by the teaching profession and in the field of corrections. His is a hedonistic approach to directing individuals in seeking the best possible life given the powers and circumstances that exist.

5. Dobson, James: The author of Dare to Discipline presents an approach to child-rearing which is based primarily upon developing a system of immediate rewards and punishments. The admonition aspect of Ephesians 6:4 is absent and the nature of his system is extra-Biblical. He is primarily known, however, as a self-love practitioner.

C. Humanistic ("Self" Theorists)

1. Rogers, Carl: As the father of "client-centered therapy," Rogers has said that the counselor is to be "nondirective" in the sessions--his job is to reflect the counselee's responses back to him and, thus, set up a catalytic atmosphere of acceptance. Such an environment is supposed to allow the client to get in touch with the innate resources within himself for successfully dealing with life and developing self-esteem.

2. Maslow, Abraham: The term "self-actualization" has been popularized by this man. The underlying assumption is that man is basically good and has within himself all he needs to develop his full potential to be a worthwhile individual; i.e., to self-actualize. Maslow is also noted for developing a hierarchy of motivational needs, including both physiological and psychological ones. The physiological were more primary in his thinking.

3. Frankl, Viktor: He is the father of "logotherapy," an existential approach to counseling. Maladjustment is seen as an attempt to establish some meaningfulness to one's existence. We are motivated primarily by a desire for identity. Clients are urged to formally establish a personal set of spiritual and ethical values gleaned from their past experiences.

4. May, Rollo: Another existentialist, May speaks of discovering what is known as a state of "satori." This is based upon the premise that one thing is as good as another and striving is useless -- i.e., be content with what you are and what you have. He sees no need for value judgments.

5. Hiltner, Seward: This man has advocated applying non-directive techniques to pastoral counseling. He says that the pastor can best help by being an understanding and non-judgmental friend to the counselee, helping the latter "get in touch with himself."

6. Mowrer, O. Hobart: The father of "integrity therapy," Mowrer believes that the solution to man's problems lies in the group milieu. The group provides all that is necessary to handle guilt (confession and restitution on the human level only), and then to develop a sense of self-worth.

7. Perls, Fritz: This man is a the founder of "Gestalt" therapy. He believes conventional morals cut man off from freely experiencing life with his physical senses. He is rather directive in his approach to encouraging clients to get in touch with their "feelings" in the "now" and act according to them.

8. Ellis, Albert: He has developed a counseling approach called "Rational Emotive Therapy" (RET). The counselor is to be very directive in attacking certain unproductive evaluations and behaviors of the client -- the counselor tells the client what to do and how to think.

II. Terms

A. Psychoanalytic

1. Libido: the instinctual drives of id which are the source of motivation and "psychic energy."

2. Oedipus Complex: repressed attitudes of hostility of a child toward the parent of the same sex, and love (sexual desire) for the parent of the opposite sex, which may then lead to certain neurotic symptoms.

3. Cathexes  the investment of psychic energy in some person or thing which can serve as an object for fulfilling one of the various instinctual drives.

4. Catharsis: the actual discharge of psychic energy associated with a previously suppressed cathexes, usually done as part of the "talk therapy."

5. Ventilation: the discharge of pent-up emotional energy by striking out in some way -- in counseling, by verbally getting things off one's chest.

6. Transference: the shifting of emotional energy from one person or object to the therapist in the counseling session -- taking an unpleasant past experience and reliving it in the presence of a warm, accepting therapist; thus, the superego is reduced in strength.

7. Transactional Analysis: a modern day approach growing out of Freud's basic personality structures. (See Eric Berne)

B. Behavioristic

1. Operant Conditioning: a form of learning in which the correct response (or approximations to it) is selectively reinforced and supposedly becomes more likely to occur.

2. Desensitization: a process by which reactions to traumatic experiences are reduced in intensity by repeatedly exposing the individual to them in mild form, either in reality or in fantasy.

3. Operationalism: a movement to insist that all definitions in the study of human behavior be linked to observational data; the behavior is to be explained in terms of the operations evoking it.

4. Parsimony (principle of): the most basic (simple) of two hypotheses should always be accepted: i.e., explanations of human behavior are to be void of abstract concepts such as "superego," "will" and "self."

5. Hedonism: idea that man is motivated primarily by a pleasure/pain principle.

C. Humanistic

1. Support: the attempt to maintain a person at his present manner of functioning through listening and showing the client "acceptance."

2. Self-actualization: the realization of one's full potential as a human being brought about be putting faith in one's self and doing whatever comes "natural."

3. Client Centered Therapy: begun by Carl Rogers, which calls for the counselor to act as a reflector helping the client get in touch with himself, his potentials for self-actualization, and solving all his own problems.

4. Directive Therapy: that in which the counselor instructs the client on what to do and how to change in accordance with the counselors own value system and adjustment to life.

5. Existentialism: a view of man which emphasizes man's responsibility for himself and to himself for becoming a meaningful person as he himself defines this.

III. Additional Terminology/Abnormal Behavior

A. Neurosis: an abnormal reaction pattern marked by acute anxiety, which lowers one's efficiency, but which does not portray a break with reality. (Some examples are amnesias, multiple personality, phobias, neurasthenia, and hysterical paralysis.)

B. Psychosis: abnormal reaction patterns which portray a lack of contact with reality and are usually characterized by delusions and hallucinations.

1. Schizophrenia: person displays a retreat from reality into an imaginary world -- thoughts appear irrational and often unconnected.

a. Simple: withdrawal from social contacts and a display of emotional indifference.
b. Hebephrenic: regression to a silly, childish level of behavior where responsibility for coping may be avoided.
c. Catatonic: characterized by behavioral states of motionlessness and/or great excitement.
d. Paranoid: marked by persecutory delusions and/or visions of grandeur.
e. Undifferentiated: others

2. Paranoid: marked by delusions of persecution and/or grandeur but without appearing to be out of contact with reality.

3. Affective Psychotic Reactions: a severe disorder of mood accompanied by thought disturbances.

a. Depression: emotional state of dejection, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and usually apprehension.
b. Manic-Depression: characterized by prolonged periods of excitement and over-activity (manic) or by periods of depression and underactivity (depressive), or by alternations or mixture of the two.

4. Involutional Psychotic Reactions: (senility is an example)


Note: The operation of the multi-billion-dollar psychotherapy industry depends on the existence of a multitude of therapists. When the average person asks, "Who can help me solve my problems?" the automatic answer is, "You need to find a good therapist." From all walks of life, students enroll in a vast and highly variable sea of training curricula designed to supply the ever-enlarging demand for therapists and counselors. Most of these students do not realize that there is no standardized, agreed-upon, or proven curriculum for their chosen profession. By the time they do realize it, it often is of little concern to them or their customers. The lack of scientific support for insight-oriented psychotherapy has little impact on the throngs of individuals who pursue the revered mantle of "therapist." Nor does it seem to dissuade the troubled millions who seek their help.

While the therapist is the central figure in psychotherapy, the Bible's teaching on the "care of souls" describes no such central figure. It speaks only of exhorting and encouraging one another, of discipling the new believer, and of discipline within the church. In so speaking, Scripture presents a complete, authoritative, and sufficient theology of soul care. It is a theology both distinctive from and clearly opposed to that which has evolved in the practice of psychotherapy.

Scripture speaks of what we might call counseling, but it speaks against those who pretend to read minds and communicate with spirits, even for the supposedly noble purpose of helping another in distress. It urges those of us who follow Christ to know and use God's Word, to care for fellow believers, and to confront sin in those for whom we show that care. The church is to rebuke, train, encourage, and generally disciple those who are troubled or are going astray. To do this is one of the ways we "love one another" (I John 4:7). To fail to do this, or to substitute human wisdom for God's revealed wisdom, is to fail to love.

This stands in contrast to most "Christian therapists," who have taken on not only the fundamental doctrines of the secular insight-oriented psychotherapy industry, but also its practices and trappings. Among these counselors who characterize themselves as "Christian," all too often we find: (1) the claim to possess the secret knowledge of an elite corps, along with the use of a vocabulary so elusive and complex that an aura of sheer magic surrounds it, (2) credentials framed on the wall, and (3) fifty-minute therapy sessions, after which they charge fees for what should be considered discipling. These counselors move within the church, more as people possessing secret knowledge than as loving church leaders fighting the good fight.

Quite apart from these professional counselors, Christians have the following four sources available for counsel: the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, other Christians, and the organized church.


* For a more full development of the information in this report, see The End of "Christian Psychology" and AGAINST "Biblical Counseling": FOR the BIBLE, both books by Martin & Deidre Bobgan (EastGate Publishers, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110). The above Note was excerpted and/or adapted from How Christian Is Christian Counseling, pp. 49-51.


Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 8/01

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