Counselling practice is shaped by understandings of human nature and functioning that may be idiosyncratic, partial and ad hoc; or shared, more-or-less comprehensive, and rigorous. If untested idiosyncratic theories are allowed to shape professional practice, that practice is likely to be deficient (because it is not fully informed) and/or unethical (because it is insufficient to achieve the best interests of the client). Hence it is critical that counselling practice is underpinned by well-attested, rigorous counselling theories, and that the relevance of using such counselling theories in interactions with clients is made clear to counselling students.
This unit introduces students to both historical and contemporary theoretical frameworks that inform counselling practice, assisting students to use theory when working with specific clients with specific conditions/issues. Students will explore:
- the nature and function of theories and models within counselling practice;
- the benefits of theories for counselling work;
- implications of using idiosyncratic versus rigorous theories for work with counselling clients;
- the content and objectives of historical theories, and contemporary expressions of historical theories, that have informed counselling practice;
- implications of different theoretical emphases (eg. on affect, cognition, behaviour, the body, unconscious/conscious factors, or relationships) for client care;
- the nature and objectives of theoretical integration, including the challenge of integrating differing assumptions and objectives; and
- the process of developing a case formulation based on relevant theoretical frameworks in order to explain the client’s current conditions or issues and suggest appropriate modes of client care.
At the conclusion of the unit students will understand how to appropriately and effectively select and
deploy relevant counselling theories and models in the context of providing care to specific clients.