Essay, Research Paper: Counseling And Psychotherapy


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Counseling v. psychotherapy is there a difference between the two? This paper
will attempt to prove that there are several differences between counseling and
psychotherapy. While counseling and psychotherapy have several different
elements in each, the following information will also attempt to show the reader
that there are some areas where the two overlap. At times this was a confusing
topic to research. A fine line distinguishes the two topics and one must look
hard to see this line. Definition of Counseling One survey taken by Gustad
suggests a definition of counseling where he included three key elements.
Counseling is a learning-oriented process, carried on in a simple, one to one
social environment, in which a counselor, professionally competent in relevant
psychological skills and knowledge, seeks to assist the client by methods
appropriate to the latter's needs and within the context of the total personnel
program, to learn more about himself, to learn how to put such understanding
into effect in relation to more clearly perceived, realistically defined goals
to the ` end that the client may become a happier and more productive member of
his society (1957, p. 36). In lay terms counseling can be described as a face to
face relationship, having goals to help a client to learn or acquire new skills
which will enable them to cope and adjust to life situations. The focus is to
help a person reach maximum fulfillment or potential, and to become fully
functioning as a person. Definition of Psychotherapy Psychotherapy is the
process inwhich a therapists assists the client in re-organizing his or her
personality. The therapist also helps the client integrate insights into
everyday behavior. Psychotherapy can be defined as "more inclusive
re-education of the individual" (Brammer& Shostrom,1977). Objectives of
counseling The objectives of counseling according to the Committee on
Definition, Division of Counseling Psychology, American Psychological
Association are to "help individuals toward overcoming obstacles to their
personal growth, wherever these may be encountered, and toward achieving optimum
development of their personal resources" (Arbuckle, 1967). In a paper
written by Dr. T. Millard, it is stated that "Counseling provides clarity
and a positive and constructive venue for the individual to sensibly examine the
instinctive-emotional and rational (or irrational) motives which determine the
drive, content, and even the form of human conduct." This shows the part
which counseling plays in a clients treatment. Objectives of psychotherapy
According to Everett Shostrom (1967) , the goal of psychotherapy is " to
become an actualizer, a person who appreciates himself and others as persons
rather than things and who has turned his self defeating manipulations into self
fulfilling potentials (p. 9). Shostrom also feels that awareness is the goal of
psychotherapy, "The reason is that change occurs with awareness!"
(1967 p. 103). Shostrom feels that awareness is a form of non-striving achieved
by being what you are at the moment,l even if what you are means the phony
manipulative role that we all play sometimes for external support (1967 p. 103).
Professional opinions Not all therapists feel that there is a distinction
between counseling and psychotherapy. C.H. Patterson feels that it is impossible
to make a distinction, He feels that the definition of counseling equally
applies as well to psychotherapy and vice a versa. Donald Arbuckle (1967) argues
that counseling and psychotherapy are identical in all essential aspects. Others
believe that there is a distinction. Psychotherapy is concerned with some type
of personality change where counseling is concerned with helping individuals
utilize full coping potential. IN Donald Arbuckle's work he included Leona
Tyler's thoughts on the differences between counseling and psychotherapy. Leona
Tyler attempts to differ between counseling and psychotherapy by stating,
"to remove physical and mental handicaps or to rid of limitations is not
the job of the counselor, this is the job of the therapist which is aimed
essentially at change rather than fulfillment (Arbuckle 1967). Differences
between counseling and psychotherapy One of the major distinctions between
counseling and psychotherapy is the focus. In counseling, the counselor will
focus on the "here and now", reality situations. During psychotherapy,
the therapist is looking into the unconscious or past. A psychotherapist is
looking for a connection of past to undealt with problems which are now present
in the real world. Donald Arbuckle states, "There is a further distinction
to be made. This involves the nature or content of the problem which the client
brings to the counselor. A distinction is attempted between reality-oriented
problems and those problems which inhere in the personality of the
individual" (1967, p.145). Counseling and psychotherapy also differentiate
when it comes to the level of adjustment or maladjustment of the client.
Counseling holds an emphasis on "normals". One could classify "normals"
as those without neurotic problems but those who have become victims of
pressures from outside environment. The emphasis in psychotherapy however is on
"neurotics" or other severe emotional problems. Counseling can also be
described as problem solving where in psychotherapy it is more analytical. In
counseling a client may have a situation where they do not have any idea how to
handle it. There are two types of problems, solvable and unsolvable. If the
problem is a solvable one, a therapist may help that client by looking at the
problem with them and helping the client draw out solutions. When thinking of
solutions one must also think of the consequences. While counseling deals with
problem solving, psychotherapy on the other hand deals with the analytical view.
Here the therapist would determine the cause of ones behavior from the results
of that behavior. An example could be if a spouse was abusing the other spouse
it could stem from the abusive spouse's past. The abusive spouse may have been a
victim of abuse as a child, abused in a relationship themselves or even have
been a witness to abuse. The counselor would analyze each act and try to link it
to something in the unconscious past. Length of treatment also differs between
counseling and psychotherapy. Counseling is shorter in duration than
psychotherapy. The time spent in counseling is determined by goals set by the
client and the counselor. Once these goals are met the client should then be
able to go back on their own. Psychotherapy tends to last a while longer.
Sessions range from two to five years. Psychotherapy is more of a comprehensive
re-education of the client. The intensity and length of therapy depends on how
well the client can deal with all of the new found information. It could take
quite sometime for the client to be able to live with these feelings which
originated in past experiences which are usually hurtful ones. A
-psychotherapists also needs time to modify all existing defenses. The setting
of treatment also differs between counseling and psychotherapy. A counseling
session usually takes place in a non medical setting such as an office.
Psychotherapy is the term used more in a medical setting such as a clinic or
hospital. Another difference between counseling and psychotherapy has to do with
transference. Brammer and Shostrom (1977) state, "The counselor develops a
close personal relationship with the client, but he does not encourage or allow
strong transference feelings as does the psychotherapist (p.223). The counselor
tends to find this transference as interfering with his or her counseling
effectiveness. A psychotherapist might feel that this transference is helpful
and the client may be able to see what he is trying to do with the therapist
relationship. A counselor may look at transference as "manifestations in an
incomplete growing up process"(Brammer & Shostrom 1977), where the
psychotherapist interprets these transference feelings as an unconscious nature
of feelings. Resistance is another area of counseling and psychotherapy that
tends to differ. Counselors see resistance as something that opposes or goes
against problem solving. A counselor tries to reduce this as much ass possible.
A psychotherapist on the other hand finds resistance to be very important. If
the therapist can understand the clients resistance, he can then understand how
to help the client change his or her personality. Similarities in counseling and
psychotherapy While there are clearly many differences between the counseling
approach and psychotherapy, there are some similarities between the two. First,
each of these are similar in the sense that each client brings with them the
assets, skills, strengths and possibilities needed with them to therapy.
Secondly, counseling and psychotherapy are similar in the way that they both use
an eclectic approach. The counselors and therapists do not have only one
technique, they borrow from all different techniques. Arbuckle argues that"
counseling and psychotherapy are in all essential respects identical"
(1967, p.144) He states that the nature of the relationship which is considered
basic in counseling and psychotherapy are identical. Secondly, Arbuckle says
that the process of counseling cannot be distinguished from the process of
psychotherapy. Third of all he feels that the methods or techniques are
identical. Arbuckle lastly states in the matter of goals and or outcomes there
may appear to be differences but no distinction is possible. One major
similarity between counseling and psychotherapy are the elements which build a
person's personality. Each of these processes deal with attitudes, feelings,
interests, goals, self esteem and related behaviors are all which are affected
through counseling and psychotherapy. Summary and Conclusion One can see from
the material provided that there are several differences between counseling and
psychotherapy. The biggest difference in my opinion is the time factor/ focus
faced in each of these approaches. Counseling primarily deals with reality
situations versus the unconscious past focus of psychotherapy. Secondly
counseling has been described as helping one to develop competencies in coping
with life situations where as psychotherapy is a re organization of one's whole
personality. Finally a last distinction is that the counselor deals with life
adjustment problems while the psychotherapist deals with past unresolved issues
from the family of origin. While there are many distinguishing differences
between counseling and psychotherapy, there are some aspects that do spill over
into each other. As one can see by the graph provided (see figure. 1.1) there is
a section where the two approaches cross paths. One must definitely take a close
look at counseling and psychotherapy to distinguish whether or not there is a
difference between the two approaches. I found this to be a very confusing topic
at times. Just when I thought I had completely grasped a concept I would run
across authors such as Arbuckle who speaks of the fact that one can not
distinguish counseling from psychotherapy. Luckily, I researched part of this
topic using my class notes, to my advantage the lecture on June 15, 1995
discussed the differences between counseling and psychotherapy. After reading
these notes I realized that I was right on track and there is a difference
between counseling and psychotherapy.BibliographyArbuckle, D. S. (1967). Counseling and Psychotherapy: An Overview. New York:
McGraw Hill. Bettelheim, B. & Rosenfeld, A. (1993). The Art of the
Obvious...Developing Insight For Psychotherapy and Everyday Life. New York:
Knopf. Brammer, L . & Shostrom, E. (1977). Theraputic Psychology:
Fundamentals of Counseling and Psychotherapy Third Edition. Englewood Cliffs,
NJ: Prentice Hall. Rogers, C. (1951). Client Centered Therapy. New York:
Houghton Mifflin. Shostrom, E. (1967). Man the Manipulator. Nashville,
Tennessee: Abingdon Press.
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