Apr
28

Approaches to Therapy: Theories, Principles and Techniques

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Theoretical Approaches

I believe that most theoretical approaches to understanding people have something to offer.  Each theory adds another piece to the puzzle by offering useful insights, principles and techniques.  Integrating various theories gives me the flexibility to address a wide variety of concerns.  Each unique case calls for a unique combination of psychological theories, principles and techniques.

Here is a list of a few fundamental theories and approaches to therapy which I incorporate into treatment.

1. Cognitive: Cognitive theories focus on thinking, perception and understanding.  Our thoughts, interpretations, assumptions and beliefs often determine how we feel and react to situations.  I have often seen my clients struggle with issues which had their roots in mis-interpretations, mis-understandings, and tendencies to automatically interpret things in one way or another.  Through therapy, I hope to give you the opportunity to examine your thinking, check your assumptions and conclusions, challenge negative or distorted thinking patterns, and increase accurate and balanced thoughts, feelings and behaviors in your life.

2. Developmental: Developmental theories focus on growth, development and learning.  Freud started us off with his stages of psychosexual development, which were central in his development of psychoanalysis as a method for helping people.  Psychologists have continued to expand and deepen our understanding of development ever sine then.  We have examined development in numerous areas including: cognitive, social, personality, learning, career, and moral development.  I have found developmental theories very useful in helping me understand what motivates my clients’ behaviors and thoughts, and how their past experiences (especially childhood experiences) may be influencing the issues they are working on now.  Also, developmental psychology sheds light on parenting, life transitions, aging, relationship dynamics, career issues, and more.

3. Behavioral: Behaviorism focuses on how behavior is affected by conditioning and reinforcement.  Behavioral theories dominated psychology in the first half of the twentieth century.  I have found behavioral techniques especially helpful when trying to change unhealthy behavior patterns (quitting tobacco or other substances, increasing exercise, improving nutrition), and for parenting (reducing temper tantrums, regaining control of children, increasing children’s positive behaviors).  I almost always use behavioral theories in conjunction with cognitive theories, as in “cognitive behavioral therapy” or CBT.

4. Humanistic: The psychological theory of humanism developed in response to psychoanalysis and behaviorism, and emphasizes the positive and healthy aspects of human psychology.  It acknowledges that there is something unique about human beings that sets us apart from animals.  Contrary to philosophical humanism, it does not reject spirituality or theism, but rather breaks ranks with previous theories in acknowledging spirituality as significant in human life.  Humanism focuses less on pathology and abnormal behavior, and puts more of an emphasis on wellness and human potential.  It focuses on questions of meaning, purpose, values, and intentions.  I incorporate principles of humanism when I work with spiritual concerns, death and dying, grief, self-actualization, issues of dignity, self-esteem, self-worth, depression, life goals, wellness, change, and growth, among others.  A few specific approaches to therapy related to humanism are solution focused therapy, strength based therapy, and person centered therapy.

5. Social Learning: Social learning theories focus on learning that occurs within a social context.  Key ideas here are observation, attention, imitation, modeling (as in role models), expectations and consequences.  Social learning theory incorporates principles of behaviorism and cognitive therapy, and adds to them by emphasizing the fundamental role of relationships in human learning, decisions, morals, behaviors, etc.  It is also a type of developmental theory, in that it describes factors and processes involved in learning and growing.  The principles of social learning have been useful to me in understanding cultural differences, family patterns, lifestyles, coping styles, communication patterns, and the types of roles that a person assumes in their relationships.

In summary

As you might imagine, there are almost an infinite number of specific theories in psychology… almost as many as there are researchers and theorists.  The above theories give you a sampling of some of the most fundamental theories that I incorporate into my work.

Anda Jines offers therapy services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago including therapy services in Tinley Park, therapy services in Oak Forest, therapy services in Orland Park and the surrounding area.

Categories : About Counseling

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