Counseling Theories




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A Summary of the Counseling Theories and Techniques from Corey (2001)

Based on Corey (2001). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 6th Ed. Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.


Basic Philosophy: “Human beings are basically determined by psychic energy and by early experiences. Unconscious motives and conflicts are central in present behavior. Irrational forces are strong; the person is driven by sexual and aggressive impulses. Early development is of critical importance because later personality problems have their roots in repressed childhood conflicts.” (p. 464)

Key Concepts: “Normal personality development is based on successful resolution and integration of psychosexual stages of development. Faulty personality development is the result of inadequate resolution of some specific stage. Id, ego, and superego constitute the basis of personality structure. Anxiety is a result of repression of basic conflicts. Unconscious processes are centrally related to current behavior.” (p. 466)

Goals of Therapy: “To make the unconscious conscious. To reconstruct the basic personality. To assist clients in reliving earlier experiences and working through repressed conflicts. To achieve intellectual awareness.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “The analyst remains anonymous, and clients develop projections toward him or her. Focus is on reducing the resistances that develop in working with transference and on establishing more rational control. Clients undergo long-term analysis, engage in free association, to uncover conflicts, and gain insight by talking. The analyst makes interpretations to teach them the meaning of current behavior as related to the past.” (p. 472)

Techniques of Therapy: “Interpretation, dream analysis, free association, analysis of resistance, analysis of transference. All are designed to help clients gain access to their unconscious conflicts, which leads to insight and eventual assimilation of new material by the ego. Diagnosis and testing are often used. Questions are used to develop a case history.” (p. 474)

Applications: “Candidates for analytic therapy include professionals who want to become therapists, people who have had intensive therapy and want to go further, and those who are in pain. Analytic therapy is not recommended for self-centered and impulsive clients or for severely impaired psychotics. Techniques can be applied to individual and group therapy.” (p. 476)

Multiculturalism: “Its focus on family dynamics is appropriate for working with many minority groups. The therapist’s formality appeals to clients who expect professional distance. Notion of ego defense is helpful in understanding inner dynamics and dealing with environmental stresses…Its focus on insight, intrapsychic dynamics, and long-term treatment[, though,] is often not valued by clients who prefer to learn coping skills for dealing with pressing daily concerns. Internal focus is often in conflict with cultural values that stress an interpersonal and environmental focus.” (pp. 478, 479)

Contributions: “More than any other system, this approach has generated controversy as well as exploration and has stimulated further thinking and development of therapy. It has provided a detailed and comprehensive description of personality structure and functioning. It has brought into prominence factors such as the unconscious as a determinant of behavior and the role of trauma during the first 6 years of life. It has developed several techniques for tapping the unconscious. It has shed light on the dynamics of transference and countertransference, resistance, anxiety, and the mechanisms of ego defense.” (p. 481)

Limitations: “Requires lengthy training for therapists and much time and expense for clients. The model stresses biological and instinctive factors to the neglect of social, cultural, and interpersonal ones. Its methods are not applicable for solving specific problems of clients in lower socioeconomic classes and are not appropriate for many ethnic and cultural groups. Many clients lack the degree of ego strength needed for regressive and reconstructive therapy. It is inappropriate for the typical counseling setting.” (p. 483).



Basic Philosophy: “Humans are motivated by social interest, by striving toward goals, and by dealing with the tasks of life. Emphasis is on the individual’s positive capacities to live in society cooperatively. People have the capacity to interpret, influence, and create events. Each person at an early age creates a unique style of life, which tends to remain relatively constant throughout life.” (p. 464)

Key Concepts: “It stresses the unity of personality, the need to view people from their subjective perspective, and the importance of life goals that give direction to behavior. People are motivated by social interest and by finding goals to give life meaning. Other key concepts are striving for significance and superiority, developing a unique lifestyle, and understanding the family constellation. Therapy is a matter of providing encouragement and assisting clients in changing their cognitive perspective.” (p. 466)

Goals of Therapy: “To challenge clients’ basic premises and life goals. To offer encouragement so individuals can develop socially useful goals. To develop the client’s sense of belonging.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “The emphasis is on joint responsibility, on mutually determining goals, on mutual trust and respect, and on equality. A cooperative relationship is manifested by a therapeutic contract. Focus is on identifying, exploring, and disclosing mistaken goals and faulty assumptions within the person’s lifestyle.” (p. 472)

Techniques of Therapy: “Adlerians pay more attention to the subjective experiences of clients than to using techniques. Some techniques include gathering life-history data (family constellation, early recollections, personal priorities), sharing interpretations with clients, offering encouragement, and assisting clients in searching for new possibilities.” (p. 474)

Applications: “Because the approach is based on a growth model, it is applicable to such varied spheres of life as child guidance, parent/child counseling, marital and family therapy, individual counseling with all age groups, correctional and rehabilitation counseling, group counseling, substance abuse programs, and brief counseling. It is ideally suited to preventive care and alleviating a broad range of conditions that interfere with growth.” (p. 476)

Multiculturalism: “Its focus on social interest, collectivism, pursuing meaning in life, importance of family, goal orientation, and belonging is congruent with many cultures. Focus on person-in-environment allows for cultural factors to be explored…This approach’s detailed interview about one’s family background[, though,] can conflict with cultures that have injunctions against disclosing family matters. Some clients may view the counselor as an authority who will provide answers to problems, which conflicts with the egalitarian, person-to-person spirit as a way to reduce social distance.” (pp. 478, 479)

Contributions: “One of the first approaches to therapy that was humanistic, unified, holistic, and goal oriented and that put an emphasis on social and psychological factors. A key contribution is the influence that Adlerian concepts have had on other systems and the integration of these concepts into various contemporary therapies.” (p. 481)

Limitations: “Weak in terms of precision, testability, and empirical validity. Few attempts have been made to validate the basic concepts by scientific methods. Tends to oversimplify some complex human problems and is based heavily on common sense.” (p. 483)



Basic Philosophy: “The central focus is on the nature of the human condition, which includes a capacity for self-awareness, freedom of choice to decide one’s fate, responsibility, anxiety, the search for a unique meaning in a meaningless world, being alone and being in relation with each others, and facing the reality of death.” (p. 464)

Key Concepts: “It is an experiential therapy. Essentially an approach to counseling rather than a firm theoretical model, it stresses core human conditions. Normally, personality development is based on the uniqueness of each individual. Sense of self develops from infancy. Self-determination and a tendency toward growth are central ideas. Focus is on the present and on what one is becoming; that is, the approach has a future orientation. It stresses self-awareness before action.” (p. 466)

Goals of Therapy: “To help people see that they are free and become aware of their possibilities. To challenge them to recognize that they are responsible for events that they formerly thought were happening to them. To identify factors that block freedom.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “The therapist’s main tasks are to accurately grasp clients’ being in the world and to establish a personal and authentic encounter with them. The relationship is seen as critically important. Clients discover their own uniqueness in the relationship with the therapist. The immediacy of the client/therapist relationship and the authenticity of the here-and-now encounter are stressed. Both client and therapist can be changed by the encounter.” (p. 472)

Techniques of Therapy: “Few techniques flow from this approach, because it stresses understanding first and technique second. The therapist can borrow techniques from other approaches and incorporate them in an existential framework. Diagnosis, testing, and external measurements are not deemed important. The approach can be very confrontive.” (p. 475)

Applications: “Can be especially suited to people facing a developmental crisis or a transition in life. Useful for clients with existential concerns (making choices, dealing with freedom and responsibility, coping with guilt and anxiety, making sense of life, and finding values). Appropriate for those seeking personal enhancement. Can be applied to both individual and group counseling, marital and family therapy, crisis intervention, and community mental health work.” (p. 476)

Multiculturalism: “Focus is on understanding client’s phenomenological world, including cultural background. This approach leads to empowerment in an oppressive society. It can help clients examine their options for change within the context of their cultural realities…Values of individuality, freedom, autonomy, and self-realization[, though,] often conflict with cultural values of collectivism, respect for tradition, deference to authority, and interdependence. Some may be deterred by the absence of specific techniques. Others will expect more focus on surviving in their world.” (pp. 478, 480)

Contributions: “Its major contribution is a recognition of the need for a subjective approach based on a complete view of the human condition. It calls attention to the need for a philosophical statement on what it means to be a person. Stress on the I/Thou relationship lessens the chances of dehumanizing therapy. It provides a perspective for understanding anxiety, guilt, freedom, death, isolation, and commitment.” (p. 481)

Limitations: “Many basic concepts are fuzzy and ill-defined, making its general framework abstract at times. Lacks a systematic statement of principles and practices of therapy. Has limited applicability to lower functioning and nonverbal clients and to clients in extreme crisis who need direction.” (p. 483)



Basic Philosophy: “The view of humans is positive; we have an inclination toward becoming fully functioning. In the context of the therapeutic relationship, the client experiences feelings that were previously denied to awareness. The client actualizes potential and moves toward increased awareness, spontaneity, trust in self, and inner-directedness.” (p. 464)

Key Concepts: “The client has the potential to become aware of problems and the means to resolve them. Faith is placed in the client’s capacity for self-direction. Mental health is a congruence of ideal self and real self. Maladjustment is the result of a discrepancy between what one wants to be and what one is. Focus is on the present moment and on experiencing and expressing feelings.” (p. 466)

Goals of Therapy: “To provide a safe climate conducive to clients’ self-exploration, so that they can recognize blocks to growth and can experience aspects of self that were formerly denied or distorted. To enable them to move toward openness, greater trust in self, willingness to be a process, and increased spontaneity and aliveness.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “The relationship is of primary importance. The qualities of the therapist, including genuineness, warmth, accurate empathy, respect, and nonjudgmentalness – and communication of these attitudes to clients – are stressed. Clients use this real relationship with the therapist to help them transfer their learning to other relationships.” (p. 472)

Techniques of Therapy: “This approach uses few techniques but stresses the attitude of the therapist. Basic techniques include active listening and hearing, reflection of feelings, clarification, and ‘being there’ for the client. This model does not include diagnostic testing, interpretation, taking a case history, or questioning or probing for information.” (p. 475)

Applications: “Has wide applicability to individual and group counseling. It is especially well suited for the initial phases of crisis intervention work. Its principles have been applied to marital and family therapy, community programs, administration and management, and human relations training. It is a useful approach for teaching, parent/child relations, and working with groups composed of people from diverse cultural backgrounds.” (pp. 476-477)

Multiculturalism: “Focus is on breaking cultural barriers and facilitating open dialogue among diverse cultural populations. Main strengths are respect for clients’ values, active listening, welcoming of differences, nonjudgmental attitude, understanding, willingness to allow clients to determine what will be explored in sessions, and prizing of cultural pluralism…Some of the core values of this approach[, though,] may not be congruent with the client’s culture. Lack of counselor direction and structure are unacceptable for clients who are seeking help and immediate answers from a knowledgeable professional.” (pp. 478, 480)

Contributions: “Unique contribution is having the client take an active stance and assume responsibility for the direction of therapy. The approach has been subjected to empirical testing, and as a result both theory and methods have been modified. It is an open system. People without advanced training can benefit by translating the therapeutic conditions to both their personal and professional lives. Basic concepts are straightforward and easy to grasp and apply. It is a foundation for building a trusting relationship, applicable to all therapies.” (p. 481)

Limitations: “Possible danger from the therapist who remains passive and inactive, limiting responses to reflection. Many clients feel a need for greater direction, more structure, and more techniques. Clients in crisis may need more directive measures. Applied to individual counseling, some cultural groups will expect more counselor activity. The theory needs to be reassessed in light of current knowledge and thought if rigidity is to be avoided.” (p. 483)



Basic Philosophy: “The person strives for wholeness and integration of thinking, feeling, and behaving. The view is antideterministic in that the person is viewed as having the capacity to recognize how earlier influences are related to present difficulties. As an experiential approach, it is grounded in the here and now and emphasizes personal choice and responsibility.” (p. 464)

Key Concepts: “Emphasis is on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of experiencing in the here and now to help clients accept their polarities. Key concepts include holism, figure-formation process, awareness, unfinished business and avoidance, contact, and energy.” (p. 466)

Goals of Therapy: “To assist clients in gaining awareness of moment-to-moment experiencing and to expand the capacity to make choices. Aims not at analysis but at integration.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “Central importance is given to the I/Thou relationship and the quality of the therapist’s presence. The therapist’s attitudes and behavior counts more than the techniques used. The therapist does not interpret for the clients but assists them in developing the means to make their own interpretations. Clients identify and work on unfinished business from the past that interferes with current functioning.” (p. 472)

Techniques of Therapy: “A wide range of experiments are designed to intensify experiencing and to integrate conflicting feelings. Experiments are co-created by therapist and client through an I/Thou dialogue. Therapists have latitude to invent their own experiments. Formal diagnosis and testing are not a required part of therapy.” (p. 475)

Applications: “Addresses a wide range of problems and populations: crisis intervention, treatment of a range of psychosomatic disorders, marital and family therapy, awareness training of mental health professionals, behavior problems in children, and teaching and learning. It is well suited to both individual and group counseling. The methods are powerful catalysts for opening up feelings and getting clients into contact with their present-centered experience.” (p. 477)

Multiculturalism: “Its focus on expressing oneself nonverbally is congruent with those cultures that look beyond words for messages. Provides many experiments in working with clients who have cultural injunctions against freely expressing feelings. Can help to overcome language barrier with bilingual clients. Focus on bodily expressions is a subtle way to help clients recognize their conflicts…Clients who have been culturally conditioned to be emotionally reserved[, though,] may not embrace Gestalt experiments. Some may not see how ‘being aware of present experiencing’ will lead to solving their problems.” (pp. 478, 480)

Contributions: “Main contribution is an emphasis on direct experiencing and doing rather than on merely talking about feelings. It provides a perspective on growth and enhancement, not merely a treatment of disorders. It uses clients’ behavior as the basis for making them aware of inner creative potential. The approach to dreams is a unique, creative tool to help clients discover basic conflicts. Therapy is viewed as an existential encounter; it is process-oriented, not technique-oriented. It recognizes nonverbal behavior as a key to understanding.” (p. 482)

Limitations: “Techniques lead to intense emotional expression; if these feelings are not explored and if cognitive work is not done, clients are likely to be left unfinished and will not have a sense of integration of their learning. Clients who have difficulty using imagination may not profit from experiments.” (p. 483)



Basic Philosophy: “Behavior is the product of learning. We are both the product and the producer of the environment. No set of unifying assumptions about behavior can incorporate all the existing procedures in the behavioral field.” (p. 464)

Key Concepts: “Focus is on overt behavior, precision in specifying goals of treatment, development of specific treatment plans, and objective evaluation of therapy outcomes. Therapy is based on the principles of learning theory. Normal behavior is learned through reinforcement and imitation. Abnormal behavior is the result of faulty learning. This approach stresses present behavior.” (p. 466)

Goals of Therapy: “Generally, to eliminate maladaptive behaviors and learn more effective behaviors. To focus on factors influencing behavior and find what can be done about problematic behavior. Clients have an active role in setting treatment goals and evaluating how well these goals are being met.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “The therapist is active and directive and functions as a teacher or trainer in helping clients learn more effective behavior. Clients must be active in the process and experiment with new behaviors. Although a quality client/therapist relationship is not viewed as sufficient to bring about change, a good working relationship is essential for implementing behavioral procedures.” (pp. 472-473)

Techniques of Therapy: “The main techniques are systematic desensitization, relaxation methods, flooding, eye movement and desensitization reprocessing, reinforcement techniques, modeling, cognitive restructuring, assertion and social skills training, self-management programs, behavioral rehearsal, coaching, and various multimodal therapy techniques. Diagnosis or assessment is done at the outset to determine a treatment plan. Questions are used, such as ‘what,’ ‘how,’ and ‘when’ (but not ‘why’). Contracts and homework assignments are also typically used.” (p. 475)

Applications: “A pragmatic approach based on empirical validation of results. Enjoys wide applicability to individual, group, marital, and family counseling. Some problems to which the approach is well suited are phobic disorders, depression, sexual disorders, children’s behavioral disorders, stuttering, and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Beyond clinical practice, its principles are applied in fields such as pediatrics, stress management, behavioral medicine, education, and geriatrics.” (p. 477)

Multiculturalism: “Its focus on behavior, rather than on feelings, is compatible with many cultures. Strengths include a collaborative relationship between counselor and client in working toward mutually agreed-on goals, continual assessment to determine if the techniques are suited to clients’ unique situation, assisting clients in learning practical skills, an educational focus, and stress on self-management strategies…Counselors need to help clients assess the possible consequences of making behavioral changes[, though.] Family members may not value clients’ newly acquired assertive style, so clients must be taught how to cope with resistance by others.” (pp. 479, 480)

Contributions: “Emphasis is on assessment and evaluation techniques, thus providing a basis for accountable practice. Specific problems are identified, and clients are kept informed about progress toward their goals. The approach has demonstrated effectiveness in many areas of human functioning. The roles of the therapist as reinforcer, model, teacher, and consultant are explicit. The approach has undergone extensive expansion, and research literature abounds. No longer is it a mechanistic approach, for it now makes room for cognitive factors and encourages self-directed programs for behavioral change.” (p. 482)

Limitations: “Major criticisms are that it may change behavior but not feelings; that it ignores the relational factors in therapy; that it does not provide insight; that it ignores historical causes of present behavior; that it involves control and manipulation by the therapist; and that it is limited in its capacity to address certain aspects of the human condition. Many of these assertions are based on misconceptions, and behavior therapists have addressed these charges. A basic limitation is that behavior change cannot always be objectively assessed because of the difficulty in controlling environmental variables.” (p. 484)



Basic Philosophy: “Individuals tend to incorporate faulty thinking, which leads to emotional and behavioral disturbances. Cognitions are the major determinants of how we feel and act. Therapy is primarily oriented toward cognition and behavior, and it stresses the role of thinking, deciding, questioning, doing, and redeciding. This is a psychoeducational model, which emphasizes therapy as a learning process, including acquiring and practicing new skills, learning new ways of thinking, and acquiring more effective ways of coping with problems.” (pp. 464-465)

Key Concepts: “Although psychological problems may be rooted in childhood, they are perpetuated through reindoctrination in the now. A person’s belief system is the primary cause of disorders. Internal dialogue plays a central role in one’s behavior. Clients focus on examining faulty assumptions and misconceptions and on replacing these with effective beliefs.” (p. 467)

Goals of Therapy: “To challenge clients to confront faulty beliefs with contradictory evidence that they gather and evaluate. Helping clients seek out their dogmatic beliefs and vigorously minimizing them. To become aware of automatic thoughts and to change them.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “In REBT the therapist functions as a teacher and the client as a student. The therapist is highly directive and teaches clients an A-B-C model of changing their cognitions. IN CT the focus is on a collaborative relationship. Using a Socratic dialogue, the therapist assists clients in identifying dysfunctional beliefs and discovering alternative rules for living. The therapist promotes corrective experience that lead [sic] to learning new skills. Clients gain insight into their problems and then must actively practice changing self-defeating thinking and acting.” (p. 473)

Techniques of Therapy: “Therapists use a variety of cognitive, emotive, and behavioral techniques; diverse methods are tailored to suit individual clients. An active, directive, time-limited, present-centered, structured therapy. Some techniques include engaging in Socratic dialogue, debating irrational beliefs, carrying out homework assignments, gathering data on assumptions one has made, keeping a record of activities, forming alternative interpretations, learning new coping skills, changing one’s language and thinking patterns, role playing, imagery, and confronting faulty beliefs.” (p. 475)

Applications: “Has been widely applied to the treatment of depression, anxiety, marital problems, stress management, skill training, substance abuse, assertion training, eating disorders, panic attacks, performance anxiety, and social phobia. The approach is especially useful for assisting people in modifying their cognitions. Many self-help approaches utilize its principles. Can be applied to a wide range of client populations with a variety of specific problems.” (p. 477)

Multiculturalism: “The collaborative approach offers clients opportunities to express their areas of concern. The psychoeducational dimensions are often useful in exploring cultural conflicts and teaching new behavior. The emphasis on thinking (as opposed to identifying and expressing feelings) is likely to be acceptable to many clients. The focus on teaching and learning tends to avoid the stigma of mental illness. Clients may value active and directive stance of therapist…Before too quickly attempting to change the beliefs and actions of clients[, though,] it is essential for the therapists to understand and respect their world. Some clients may have serious reservations about questioning their basic cultural values and beliefs. Clients could become dependent on the therapist for deciding what are appropriate ways to solve problems. There may be a fine line between being directive and promoting dependence.” (pp. 479, 480)

Contributions: “Major contributions include emphasis on a comprehensive and eclectic therapeutic practice; numerous cognitive, emotive, and behavioral techniques; an openness to incorporating techniques from other approaches; and a methodology for challenging and changing faulty thinking. Most forms can be integrated into other mainstream therapies. REBT makes full use of action-oriented homework, listening to tapes, and keeping record of progress. CT is a structured therapy that has a good track record for treating depression and anxiety in a short time.” (p. 482)

Limitations: “Tends to play down emotions, does not focus on exploring the unconscious or underlying conflicts, and sometimes does not give enough weight to client’s past. REBT, being a confrontational therapy, might lead to premature termination. CT might be too structured for some clients.” (p. 484)



Basic Philosophy: “Based on choice theory, this approach assumes that we are by nature social creatures and we need quality relationships to be happy. Psychological problems are the result of our resisting the control by others or of our attempt to control others. Choice theory is an explanation of human nature and how to best achieve good relationships.” (p. 464)

Key Concepts: “The basic focus is on what clients are doing and how to get them to evaluate whether their present actions are working for them. People create their feelings by the choices they make and by what they do. The approach rejects the medical model, the notion of transference, the unconscious, and dwelling on one’s past.” (p. 466)

Goals of Therapy: “To help people become more effective in meeting their needs. To enable clients to get reconnected with the people they have chosen to put into their quality worlds and teach clients choice theory.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “A therapist’s main function is to create a good relationship with the client. Therapists are then able to engage clients in an evaluation of all their relationships with respect to what they want and how effective they are in getting this. Therapists find out what clients want, ask what they are choosing to do, invite them to evaluate present behavior, help them make plans for change, and get them to make a commitment. The therapist is client’s advocate, as long as the client is willing to attempt to behave responsibly.” (p. 472)

Techniques of Therapy: “An active, directive, and didactic therapy. Various techniques may be used to get clients to evaluate what they are presently doing to see if they are willing to change. If they decide that their present behavior is not effective, they develop a specific plan for change and make a commitment to follow through.” (p. 475)

Applications: “Geared to teaching people ways of using choice theory in everyday living to increase effective behaviors. It has been applied to individual counseling with a wide range of clients, group counseling, working with youthful law offenders, and marital and family therapy. In some instances it is well suited to brief therapy and crisis intervention.” (p. 477)

Multiculturalism: “Focus is on members’ making own evaluation of behavior (including how they respond to their culture). Through personal assessment they can determine the degree to which their needs and wants are being satisfied. They can find a balance between retaining their own ethnic identity and integrating some of the values and practices of the dominant society…This approach[, though,] stresses taking charge of one’s own life, yet some clients hope to change their external environment. Counselor needs to appreciate the role of discrimination and racism and help clients deal with social and political realities.” (pp. 478-479, 480)

Contributions: “Consists of simple and clear concepts that are easily grasped in many helping professions; thus, it can be used by teachers, nurses, ministers, educators, social workers, and counselors. It is a positive approach, with an action orientation. Due to the direct methods, it appeals to many clients who are often seen as resistant to therapy. It is a short-term approach that can be applied to a diverse population, and it has been a significant force in challenging the medical model of therapy.” (p. 482)

Limitations: “Discounts the therapeutic value of exploring the client’s past, dreams, the unconscious, early childhood experiences, and transference. The approach is limited to less complex problems. It is a problem-solving therapy that tends to discourage exploration of deeper emotional issues. It is vulnerable to practitioners who want to ‘fix’ clients quickly.” (p. 484)



Basic Philosophy: “Feminists criticize many traditional theories to the degree that they are based on gender-biased concepts and practices of being: androcentric, gendercentric, ethnocentric, heterosexist, and intrapsychic. The constructs of feminist therapy include being gender-free, flexible, interactionist, and life-span-oriented.” (p. 465)

Key Concepts: “Core principles that form the foundation for practice of feminist therapy are the personal is political, the counseling relationship is egalitarian, women’s experiences are honored, definitions of distress and mental illness are reformulated, emphasis on gender equality, and commitment to confronting oppression on any grounds.” (p. 467)

Goals of Therapy: “To bring about transformation both in the individual client and in society. For individual clients the goal is to assist them in recognizing, claiming, and using their personal power to free themselves from the limitations of gender-role socialization. To confront all forms of institutional policies that discriminate on the basis of gender.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “The therapeutic relationship is based on empowerment and egalitarianism. Therapists actively break down the hierarchy of power and reduce artificial barriers by engaging in appropriate self-disclosure and teaching clients about the therapy process. Therapists strive to create a collaborative relationship in which clients can become their own expert [sic].” (p. 473)

Techniques of Therapy: “Although techniques from traditional approaches are used, feminist practitioners tend to employ consciousness-raising techniques aimed at helping clients recognize the impact of gender-role socialization on their lives. Other techniques frequently used include gender-role analysis and intervention, power analysis and intervention, bibliotherapy, journal writing, therapist self-disclosure, assertiveness training, reframing and relabeling, cognitive restructuring, identifying and challenging untested beliefs, role playing, psychodramatic methods, group work, and social action.” (pp. 475-476)

Applications: “Principles and techniques can be applied to a range of therapeutic modalities such as individual therapy, relationship counseling, family therapy, group counseling, and community intervention. The approach can be applied to both women and men with the goal of bringing about empowerment.” (p. 477)

Multiculturalism: “This approach is not willing to settle for adjustment to the status quo. Both individual change and social transformation are the ultimate goals of therapy. A key contribution is that both the women’s movement and the multicultural movement have called attention to the negative impact of discrimination and oppression for both women and men…One criticism[, though,] is that feminist therapy was developed by White, middle class, heterosexual women. Based on the feminist notions of collaborative relationships, self-determination, and empowerment, therapists need to assess with their clients the price of making significant personal change. If this assessment is not made, clients in certain cultures may experience isolation as a result of making life changes or of assuming a new role.” (pp. 479, 480)

Contributions: “Major contributions are paving the way for gender-sensitive practice and bringing attention to the gendered uses of power in relationships. The feminist perspective is responsible for encouraging increasing numbers of women to question gender stereotypes and to reject limited views of what a woman is expected to be. The unified feminist voice brought attention to the extent and implications of child abuse, incest, rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. Feminist principles and interventions can be incorporated in other therapy approaches.” (p. 482)

Limitations: “A possible limitation is the potential for therapists to impose a new set of values on clients – such as striving for equality, power in relationships, defining oneself, freedom to pursue a career outside the home, and the right to an education. Therapists need to keep in mind that clients are their own best experts, which means it is up to them to decide which values to live by.” (p. 484)



Basic Philosophy: “The family is viewed from an interactive and systemic perspective. Clients are connected to a living system; a change in one part of the system will result in a change in other parts. The family provides the context for understanding how individuals function in relationship to others and how they behave. Treatment is best focused on the family unit. An individual’s dysfunctional behavior grows out of the interactional unit of the family and out of larger systems as well.” (p. 465)

Key Concepts: “Focus is on communication patterns within a family, both verbal and nonverbal. Problems in relationships are likely to be passed on from generation to generation. Symptoms are viewed as ways of communicating with the aim of controlling other family members. Key concepts vary depending on specific orientation but include differentiation, triangles, power coalitions, family-of-origin dynamics, functional versus dysfunctional interaction patterns, family rules governing communication, and dealing with here-and-now interactions. The present is more important than exploring past experiences.” (p. 467)

Goals of Therapy: “Most approaches are aimed at helping family members gain awareness of patterns of relationships that are not working well and create new ways of interacting to relieve their distress. Some approaches focus on resolving the specific problem that brings the family to therapy.” (p. 469)

Therapeutic Relationship: “The family therapist functions as a teacher, coach, model, and consultant. The family learns ways to detect and solve problems that are keeping members stuck, and it learns about patterns that have been transmitted from generation to generation. Some approaches focus on the role of therapist as expert; others concentrate on intensifying what is going on in the here and now of the family session. All family therapists are concerned with the process of family interaction and teaching patterns of communication.” (p. 473)

Techniques of Therapy: “There is a diversity of techniques, depending on the particular theoretic orientation. Interventions may target behavior change, perceptual change, or both. Techniques include using genograms, teaching, asking questions, family sculpting, joining the family, tracking sequences, issuing directives, anchoring, use of countertransference, family mapping, refraining, paradoxical interventions, restructuring, enactments, and setting boundaries. Techniques may be experiential, cognitive, or behavioral in nature. Most are designed to bring about change in a short time.” (p. 476)

Applications: “Applications vary depending on the particular approach to family therapy. Useful for dealing with marital distress, problems of communicating among family members, power struggles, crisis situations in the family, helping individuals attain their potential, and enhancing the overall functioning of the family.” (p. 477)

Multiculturalism: “Many ethnic and cultural groups place value on the role of the extended family. Many family therapies deal with extended family members and with support systems. Networking is a part of the process, which is congruent with the values of many clients. There is a greater chance for individual change if other family members are supportive. This approach offers ways of working toward the health of the family unit and the welfare of each member…Some approaches[, though,] are based on value assumptions that are not congruent with the values of clients from other cultures. Concepts such as individuation, self-actualization, self-determination, independence, and self-expression may be foreign to some clients. In some cultures, admitting problems within the family is shameful. The value of ‘keeping problems within the family’ may make it difficult to explore conflicts openly.” (pp. 479, 480)

Contributions: “In all of the systemic approaches, neither the individual nor the family is blames for a particular dysfunction. The family is empowered through the process of identifying and exploring interactional patterns. Working with an entire unit provides a new perspective on understanding and working through both individual problems and relationship concerns. By exploring one’s family of origin, there are increased opportunities to resolve other relationship conflicts outside of the family.” (p. 483)

Limitations: “Limitations include problems in being able to involve all the members of a family in the therapy. Members may be resistant to changing the structure of the system. Therapists’ self-knowledge and willingness to work on their own family-of-origin issues is crucial, for the potential of countertransference is high. It is essential that the therapist be well trained, receive quality supervision, and be competent in assessing and treating individuals in a family context.” (p. 484)