Modern counselling and psychotherapy provide clients with a wide range of options for addressing many different kinds of psychological distress.
This section provides some background on a few of the different types of counselling and psychotherapy available today, a brief summary of the history of the area, and some notes on empirical research about the effectiveness of different types of counselling. Of course there are many more types of counselling and therapy than we’ve been able to address here so far!
Cognitive therapy (or cognitive behavioural therapy) helps the client to uncover and alter distortions of thought or perceptions which may be causing or prolonging psychological distress.
Although psychological therapies trace their history back to the contributions of Freud, many modern approaches to counselling and psychotherapy are now much more firmly grounded in other bodies of thought.
Despite clear evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of counselling and psychotherapy, pinning down specific reasons for effectiveness or identifying particularly effective approaches remains tricky. (NOTE: The review of Hubble, et al 1999 includes a great deal of additional information on the topic of effectiveness in therapy.)
Existential approaches to counselling and psychotherapy focus on exploring the challenges and paradoxes of human existence, rather than psychopathology.
While roughly in agreement in many areas, existential and person-centred approaches to counselling each reveal weaknesses in the other as well as offering straightforward ways to augment therapeutic practice.
Taking the view that every individual has the internal resources they need for growth, person-centred counselling aims to provide three ‘core conditions’ (unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence) which help that growth to occur.
Rational emotive behaviour therapy focuses on uncovering irrational beliefs which may lead to unhealthy negative emotions and replacing them with more productive rational alternatives.