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A Critical Review of the Counseling Modalities Essay

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Updated: Sep 9th, 2021


There are four major types of counseling modalities namely; Alderian, Person-centered, Transactional analysis and Psychodynamic. The purpose of this paper is to give a critical review of the named counseling modalities and then give a further in depth assessment of the efficacy and limitation of the modalities preferably person-centered and psychodynamic counseling models

Personal centered counseling technique

This counseling modality originated from Carl Rogers. It follows the humanistic ideals and purports that a client/person has the capacity to own their problems and solve them. That means that the counseling session is merely a facilitating affair to help the client get a clear picture of him self or the situation at hand. (Richmond, 2007).

The client is the best persons to channel his personal growth through his experiences. Nonetheless, this theory also acknowledges the fact that unfavorable conditions hamper individuals to grow and develop to full potential. Such unfavorable conditions include negative regards form other, conditional relationship/acceptance with other, a draining environment among others. (Nelson-Jones, 2006). This negative conditions bar individuals from realizing their innate power to chart their own course. For some reason, human beings feel they are obliged to incorporate other people’s beliefs in their own self concept. According to this theory, individuals find it easily to regard themselves in light of what other people expect form them rather than their own judgments in order to acquire positive regard from others. (Mulhauser, 2007). It is not uncommon to hear expressions like “I am the kind of person who listens to other opinions’ or I am the kind of friend who never lets others down’ underlying these expressions is the fact that the individual has less of self regard and identity than he/she has of others creations. When the acquired concept clashes with an individual personal experiences then the balance is destabilized hence causing anxiety, depression and psychological disturbance.

Alderian counseling model

This theory of counseling psychotherapy was developed by Alfred Adler. Alder’s counseling model gives prominence to provoking maladaptive lifestyles in individuals (Clark, 29) and the basic goal of the Adlerian approach is to help clients identify and change their mistaken beliefs about self, others, and life and thus participate more fully in a social world (Corey, 119). This is achieved by altering a client’s dysfunctional perceptions or belief systems by replacing them with positive self concepts and realistic assumptions about the world. Corey submits that the alderian counseling is a growth model that assists individuals to reach their full potential by alleviating the social conditions that interfere with personal growth. (Corey, p54) In addition, the Alderian therapy is that it is multidimensional combining an array of techniques such as CBT, experimental among others. Flexibility, trust, empathy and encouragement are crucial in the therapeutic interactions the therapist helps the client to recognize his strengths and capabilities and direct them to effecting positive personal development hence full potential. Alderian theory lays emphasis on transition from self defeating situational problem solving to continual positive reinforcement of self concepts.

Corey book outlines several concepts that dominate Alderian therapy e.g. reference of early childhood experiences, their interpretations and impacts on a clients current situation, dealing with consequence of own mistakes, inner reflection of one’s perceptions and thoughts, highlighting the collaborative relationship between client and therapist and the self assessment of one’s situation, goals and devising ways of attaining those goals. One thing to note is that Alderian therapists make most use of encouragement to the client throughout the counseling process.


Psychodynamic therapy is a counseling therapy that examines the deeper aspects of clients experiences i.e. it attempts to unveil the hidden contents in the subconscious, which is linked to alleviation of psychological tensions. This therapy is sort of psychoanalysis only that it is less intense and follows shorter format. This therapy is very reliable in dealing with group dynamics within organization, individual problems, family counseling and relationship development among others. The advantage of this therapy is that the relationship between the clients and the counseling is friendly and intimate and that it is more eclectic than other approaches of therapy. Similarly, the sessions tend to be multifaceted incorporating a variety of techniques. (Boeree, 2006) In this way, the sessions tend to be more enjoyable due to the variety and also it alleviates the feeling of intensity from the interrelationship. The theory underlying this therapy is that individuals experience some terms of malfunctioning although it is deposited in the unconscious mind. This malfunctioning plays a part in molding an individual’s later years and at some point, the person may experience some form of mental conflict (dissonance) and in his/her every day life, it is at this point that a client may seek a therapists help. The therapist’s role therefore is to guide the client in accepting that he/she has a poorly formed function and then guiding the client to exploring the origin of the malfunction and devising strategies of overcoming the problem.

Transactional analysis

This model of counseling was developed by Eric Berne, an American physician. This therapy is built on four foundational principles. These include; the structural model of egos, transactions, psychological games and scripts. Transactional analysis is popular with individuals who help to overcome problems that arise out of personal development or interpersonal relationships. According to this theory, individuals relate in three different ego states that is; the child (unhealthy and healthy child), the adult (rational state) and the parent (critical and nurturing parent). This states form the basis upon which transactional analysis therapy uses to help individuals better understand and improve themselves and their interpersonal relationships. (www.tastudent.org.uk). This counseling modality is most effective in school settings in areas of skills development, personal empowerment and self understanding. Transactional analysis is an empowering therapy. Unlike other therapies where clients are viewed as patients, TA views the clients as a party to a contract between him and the therapist. No feelings of scrutiny are present and the sessions do not subject the client to experimentation. The client feels empowered in the sense that he/she decided together with the therapists on how the therapy will go and what issues will be dealt with. Essentially, the client is the authority in this counseling modality. Transactional analysis emphasizes the potential of an individual to fix a wrong or power to change. Basically the therapist role is to encourage the client to realize that he/she has the capability to change. This is one of the principle precepts in transactional analysis.

Strengths of transactional analysis

The effectiveness of this counseling modality is that it is simple to understand and does not involve technicalities of analyzing past experiences or dreams among other dimensions that typical therapies do. As a matter of fact it uses no jargons and anyone can apply it, for instance, it uses words like Script, Child, Adult, Parent, Stroke, Game, racket and so on. These words are ordinary and do not deviate as much from the original context. Secondly, it is fast. These days time is of the essence and regardless of how much a client may need help, securing time for it is difficult. Transactional analysis eradicates the mentality of ‘life sentence’ associated with therapies, healing or solution is quick to come by, say within a few weeks or months depending on the individual and the problem. (Berne, 2007). The benefit of this is that the client does not feel helpless or incapable of coming up with a solution. In the long run the skills acquired from this therapy go a long way in helping the client tackle similar problems in future. Transactional analysis helps individuals to rewrite unproductive scripts and limitations ingrained in their subconscious from childhood by critical remarks by influential people say kindergarten teacher, older siblings and parents. For example, you can never do anything ‘right.’ (Stewart, 2005) Transactional analysis is very efficient in promoting self discovery since its emphasis lays in enhancing contact, attachment, intimacy, warmth, tender loving care, need to belong, closeness, relationships, social support as well as love. (Berne, 2007) The therapist talks quite a lot and helps the client facing relationship problems to expose his thoughts jolting questions thereby expose underlying feelings that he/she would not have thought possible. (Rowan, 1998) In addition, transactional analysis therapy is very flexible therapy as it integrates well with other counseling modalities. It is also very fitting in various settings such as individual or group therapy. Perhaps that is why it is used outside clinical practice say in schools or on the workplace. The interactive nature of the counseling sessions also helps people who are facing communication problems arising from psychological malfunction to open up and deal with their problems. This happens when the therapist practices the professionalism of keeping therapeutic distance. (Stewart, 2005).

The transactional analysis may be limited in dealing with clients who want intense past hurts because it only focuses on the here and now. Into the bargain, the concepts of transactional analysis tend to be ambiguous and immeasurable. For instance how does one measure constructs like love, happiness. These may mean different things to different people thus it is not applicable universally. Past hurts may be deep seated in the subconscious mind rendering the client unable to understand his/her limitations accruing from past experiences. In such a case transactional analysis is inefficient and it would be important that the client signs up for psychodynamic therapy or alderian therapies which are more intense before pursuing personal development and self actualization through transactional analysis therapy.

Another limitation of transactional analysis in counseling clients from past hurt is that transactional analysis assumes an ‘am ok you are ok mentality. This ideology is not practical to the healing session of such a client because it oversimplifies the concept of selfhood to the client. The client might feel that the therapy is not inline with his frustrations or distress. In most cases hurtful past experiences make the self more complex than assumed in transactional analysis. This cements the fact that selfhood can never be described in terms of ok-ness as the theory offers.

Alderian therapy strengths and weaknesses

The Alderian therapy is very useful in handling clients who want healing from past hurts, for instance a person who thinks that al women are evil and unlovable because his mother was cruel. Such thoughts are twisted and are reflective of psychological dysfunction. In some cases these dysfunctions are so severe that it passes on to the individual’s social life. The Alderian counseling approach views this dysfunction not as mentally sick but an effect of discouragement. When the therapist leads the client to incorporate productive thoughts to his daily life then the client is able to tear himself from restricting thoughts from his past disappointments. Essentially, the therapy session enables the client to relive the past and confront unresolved conflicts that hold him back from living a fulfilling life.The best part about Alderian therapy is that it does not limit the interaction to theoretical frameworks rather it pushes for shorter sessions and follow in the steps of what is in the best interest of the client. Other desirable characteristics of the Alderian are that the brief sessions do not drain the energy of the client and similarly, it is based on present and future orientation. This means that what the client derives from the sessions is applicable to future situations. Compared to psychodynamic counseling therapy, the alderian therapy is less intense and brief. This makes the therapy suitable for the fairly busy individuals who want to experience healing from the past within a shorter timeframe.

The Alderian therapy is not without its limitations. According to Corey the basic concepts in this model are vague and not empirical. This is because they lack a precise definition and carry an ambiguous connation; hence it is difficult to validate the conclusions from this therapy. More to that, theory has been criticized for its oversimplification of the human interaction (p54). This is because human beings are complex and to fully develop ones potential, a blend of variables come to play not just the past childhood experiences or ones perceptions. As Corey points out in his book.

One’s family background 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. (Corey, 486).

In page 490 in Corey manual Alderian therapy is viewed as one that lacks credibility since its concepts are not testable, precise and heavily rely on common sense. A problem like healing from past hurts should not be written off as merely a simple problem. The underlying issues may be more complex and destructive and this needs to be explored in details.

Alderian therapy fails to deliver from this perspective. At the same time, Alderian theory is limited in the sense that clients who seek immediate solution to their problem may not benefit from it. This is because it takes up a lot of time to explore childhood experience of which by the end of the day may be of little or no use to solving the problem at hand. (p.121). Alderian therapy also make use of dreams especially those that recur frequently to make inferences of a clients lifestyle functioning.

(Clark p. 29). This assumption again is not reliable because analysis of a dream proves difficult since most times dreams are incoherent and easily forgotten. Lastly the approach yields little effectiveness to clients who do not understand the rationale behind assessment and exploration of past experiences and current lifestyle as a method of solving problems.


In summary, the efficacy of different counseling modalities varies while working with different human problems. Some approaches befit certain human problems more than others. This accentuates the importance of a multidimensional approach whereby the therapist has many tools at his disposal to choose from. By and large the therapist should pick the most suitable approach for any given clients needs. Nonetheless, these theories have been used by therapist for a long time and a seasoned psychologist should be in a position to recommend a proper model depending on his assessment of the client/ patient.


Richmond, R. L. (2007). San Francisco, California USA.

Corey, G. (2005). Theory and Practice of Counseling & Psychotherapy (7th. Ed). USA: Thomson – Brooks/Cole.

Clark A. J. (2002). Early Recollections: Theory and Practice in Counseling and Psychotherapy. Psychology Press.

Stewart W. (2005) An A-Z of Counseling Theory And Practice. Nelson Thornes.

Boeree, G. (2006) Personality Theories.

Mulhauser, G. (2007). Counseling Resource: .

Nelson-Jones R (2006). Theory And Practice of Counseling And Therapy.

Berne, E. (2007). Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy: A Systematic Individual and Social psychology. Grove Press.

Rowan, J. (1998). The Reality Game: A Guide to Humanistic Counseling and Therapy. Routledge.

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