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Changing Views on Counseling Theories
Counseling theories have played a great role in increasing understanding of the behavioral patterns of people, and the importance of counseling in treating psychological problems of people. My views on counseling theories have been changing over the duration I have been learning them. When I first started the counseling class, there are a number of issues that I did not understand about counseling and theories related to it. I thought that counseling was more related to art than science. For this reason, I failed to look at some of the theories of counseling from scientific approach.
However, this has changed drastically over the time I have taken to study these theories and how they are used by practitioners in this field. Some of the theories of counseling that I have taken keen note of since I started learning these theories are Adlerian theory and Behavioral theory of psychology. My views on these two theories have changed over time. This research focuses on the Behavioral Theory. This change is attributed to the increased level of knowledge I currently have on this field. Behavioral Theory attracted my attention since I started learning about counseling theories. It was interesting to have an explanation on why some people behave the way they do. I believed then, that this theory would help me explain some of the factors that would make an individual reason irrationally.
Choosing the Same Theory
As mentioned above, Behavioral-counseling theory has been my preferred choice of dealing with psychological problems in clients. According to Chan (2004), cognitive behavioral therapy has been of great importance in this field. This scholar notes that this theory has helped in enhancing Adlerian theory, which is also very popular. This is especially so when dealing with behavioral problems of people. Such problems like anxiety, relationship problems, sleeping difficulties, depression, and substance abuse are easily solved through behavioral therapy. This theory works from the perspective of changing the attitude because it is the attitude that will always define the behavioral pattern of an individual.
Having learnt a number of other theories, I would still chose Behavioral theory as my preferred theory of helping psychologically troubled individuals. My increased knowledge on this and other theories of psychology has strengthened my resolve on the fact that cognitive behavioral therapy can enable counselors help patients suffering from psychological problems. For instance, depression is known to be one of the most dangerous psychological problems that can result into massive physiological problems. Chan (2004) observes that depression is known to affect the hypothalamus in the brain, which affects the release of various hormones into the blood. If this is not corrected in time, such effect can result into massive damage of the brain, causing mental problems to the patient.
A number of theories have been put forth to help explain how this condition can be dealt with in order to avoid the possibility of a patient getting affected negatively. However, cognitive behavioral therapy offers the best solution. This view has not changed since I started learning about these theories. The more knowledge I have gained about these theories, the more I have come to appreciate the importance of using this theory in dealing with psychological problems. It may take a long time before one can realize that a strange behavior of an individual could be related to a psychological problem. If this were to be measured, then it may not be easy to conduct the measurement empirically until the impact is felt on the blood system of the patient.
This may take a while. According to Ellis and Dryden (1997), “The most basic assumption of behavior theory is that since feeling, emotions, and thoughts are immeasurable, thus the most effective way to help clients is through observing their behaviors.” However, using behavioral theory it is easy to understand that the moment one’s behavior becomes abnormal there is every reason to believe that there is a psychological problem, which needs address. When using cognitive behavioral theory, it is easy to investigate and find the causative factor that is making an individual behave in a particular strange manner. Once the causative agent of the psychological problem is found, it becomes easy for the practitioner to find a lasting solution that will address the causative agent.
After a period of learning about a number of counseling theories, I have come to appreciate a number of facts about counseling. It is true that the environment in which one finds himself or herself pose some impacts to the life of such a person. On the other hand, it is important to realize that an individual also affects the environment in which he or she lives. This means that if an individual’s psychological problem is not solved, then the consequences will also be felt by other people. Blonna (2011) says, “Another important assumption of this theory is that all behaviors, both simple and complex, can be reduced to a stimulus-response feature.” When using this approach, it is possible to identify negative stimuli in order to stop negative response that it causes. These are some of the factors that have made me convinced that behavioral theory is very appropriate for counselors dealing with patients having psychological problems.
How the theory may change when used in two different populations
According to Sapp (2004), it is always important to determine how to apply different models of psychology on different populations. The way one model is applied in one population may not be appropriate when applied in a different population. It is important to understand that when applying this theory among the Muslims a little change of approach may need to be taken from when it is used among Christians. In a Christian population, there has been a general acceptance that men and women are equal.
When dealing with family issues in the United States where the couple believes in Christianity, the counselor must realize that under normal context, none of the two should consider himself or herself as superior to the other. This is very different when handling a case in Saudi Arabia where the couple believes in Islam. In this case, the counselor must realize that men are considered superior to women. This will help in finding a lasting solution to a mental problem that may be affecting an individual.
According to Ellis and Dryden (1997), it is important to realize that behavioral patterns of an individual are always shaped by the environmental factors. What one considers normal in the context of his or her environment may be abnormal when looked at in a different environment. In the United States where majority are Christians, women and men are considered equal. This is not the same case when the societal context is in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, women are considered inferior to men. The cultural practices in this society have insisted on the fact that the society has come to embrace it.
The society has come to appreciate that men are superior. A good example is given when it comes to issuing of driving license. The government of Saudi Arabia does not issue driving license to women (Blonna, 2011). This means that the law of this land does not allow women to drive. A similar pattern is demonstrated when it comes to the issue of travelling abroad. Women are not allowed to travel outside the country unless they get the permission of their husbands. Men do not need any approval from their wives when they need to travel abroad. These are simple cultural practices that a psychologist should not ignore when putting behavioral theory into practice.
Sapp (2004) says that these cultural practices would make some behavioral patterns normal in one society, but abnormal in another. For instance, a man who wants to dictate everything that happens in the house would be considered to be behaving normally in Saudi society, but abnormally in the American society. A practitioner who uses this theory in Saudi Arabia must understand the context under which an individual behaves the way he or she does, based on the cultural environment. Just as this theory holds, the environment always affects an individual’s behavior. For this reason, it is important to determine whether a person’s behavior is supported by the environmental factors that influence him or her before the behavior is declared abnormal.
Blonna, R. (2011). Health counseling: A microskills approach for counselors, educators, and school nurses. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Chan, F. (2004). Counseling theories and techniques for rehabilitation health professionals. New York: Springer.
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Ellis, A., & Dryden, W. (1997). The practice of rational emotive behavior therapy. New York: Springer Publishers.
Sapp, M. (2004). Cognitive-behavioral theories of counseling: Traditional and nontraditional approaches. Springfield: C.C. Thomas.