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Senior Seminar in Psychology Career
The current essay provides a brief description of the history of counseling therapy in the USA. The additional attention is paid to the relationships of this area of psychology with clinical therapy and such academic discipline as education. Counseling is connected with the great variety of psychological theories. However, this work puts an emphasis only on rational emotive behavioral theory (also known as REBT) and person-centered theory.
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Nowadays, researchers use both qualitative and mixed methods of gathering of the information for the studying of these theories and the further development of counseling. The description of two relevant studies provided below. In the work Closing the gap: A group counseling approach to improve test performance of African-American students researches proved that counseling intervention can promote personal development in the non-traditional manner. The second study Person-centered therapy and older adults self-esteem: A pilot study with follow-up shows that person-centered therapy can be useful for the improvement of the self-esteem of older clients. The information provided in the paper is very useful for my future profession of mental health counselor. It was increased and mastered, together with necessary skills and characteristics in both curricular and extracurricular times. The current work provides the explanation of the roots of counseling and the existing theories which are successfully applied in the current moment for showing that this area of psychology can improve the human welfare.
The History of the Discussed Area of Specialization in Psychology
Counseling as a process of psychological treatment dates back to the early 1900s, when Clifford Beers raised the awareness of Americans to the treatment of mental illnesses (Aluede McEachern, & Kenny, 2005, p. 371). The beginning of the vocational guidance movement that further gave raise to counseling psychology was based on the nationwide impulse toward child saving against neglect, abuse and poverty (Freedheim & Weiner, 2003). This society initiated changes in the public schooling that would accommodate industrial education and vocational guidance (Freedheim & Weiner, 2003, p. 356). The further study of vocational guidance was described by Harry Hollingworth in the book Vocational Psychology in 1916 (Freedheim & Weiner, 2003). Several years later, all the braches of vocational guidance merged into a program of counseling that serves as the background for counseling psychology (Freedheim & Weiner, 2003).
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In 1930s the psychologists interest in testing and counseling increased rapidly (Freedheim & Weiner, 2003). The majority of scientists worked in health care providing institutions, where their work was observed and guided by psychiatrists. The independent profession in counseling psychology in the USA was established only in 1946, when the American Psychological Association (APA) introduced the new division (Division 19 that later was renamed into Division 17) (Orlans & Scoyoc, 2008). In this division, much attention was paid on providing career or educational guidance to combat veterans…the USA Veterans Administration (Orlans & Scoyoc, 2008, p. 6). The awareness concerning this area of psychology was driven by the works of Carl Rogers (Counseling and Psychotherapy published in 1942 and Client Centered Therapy published in 1951) (Orlans & Scoyoc, 2008). This individual is considered to be a founder of client-oriented (also known as person-centered approach). He put a great emphasis on method than on theory and stressed on personal needs than on general social goals (McLeod, 2003).
The further development of counseling psychology led to the emergence of two new positions for psychologists: Counseling Psychologist (Vocational Rehabilitation and Education) and Counseling Psychologist (Vocational) (Orlans & Scoyoc, 2008). The accreditation of training programs by APA started in 1951 (Freedheim & Weiner, 2003).
The necessity of the designing of the special training programs for psychologists was raised by the foundation of the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology in 1974 (Orlans & Scoyoc, 2008). They also discussed the procedure of accreditation of counseling psychologists in the USA. The accent was placed on the specification of psychology in the title of accreditation procedures and establishment of the special trainings for doctoral level professionals. The foundation noted the necessity to pay more attention on diversity and deeper understanding of cultural identities. This change promoted the specific emphasis on unity through diversity (Orlans & Scoyoc, 2008, p. 7). Nowadays, this is the second largest division after clinical psychology. It provides the generalist trainings which have the aim to serve a wide range of issues.
The further development of this area of psychology is closely associated with the expansion of private practice and considerable weakening of federal support of trainings and researches in this sphere. However, these trends did not lead to a development of the overall direction. Nowadays, there are more than 2,500 members in APA, almost 70 active APA-accredited doctoral programs and two main journals (The Counseling Psychologist and The Journal of Counseling Psychology) (Freedheim & Weiner, 2003). Currently, the counselor is the professional who develops mutual relationships with clients with the aim to help them clarify thoughts and feelings, and make behavioral and lifestyle changes, formulate goals, and make informed decisions (Aluede et al., 2005, p. 372). The counselor usually has the personal commitment to help clients. He usually has the certain degree of authority for the inspiration of hope and faith into clients. They perceive the specialist as a mediator between the society and the suffering individual. Such ufferings are lowered through the release of emotions, rethinking of life problems and restoration of morale through listening in an emphatic way. Counselors establish a special framework for the further changes through the providing of explanatory schemes which enable understanding of the clients pains and problems. The involvement into the process of change is made through the number of sessions.
The work of counseling psychologists has numerous similarities with the undertakings of clinical psychology specialists. Both of them act as therapists for people who suffer from psychological crises. However, counseling psychologists are more focused on treatment of individuals with adjustment problems rather than on persons suffering from severe psychological disorders (The Ohio State University, 2014).
This area of psychology is closely connected with such academic discipline as education, because it provides the understanding about cognition and various ways that individuals can be motivated to learn. The future educators are enabled to perform more fair and accurate assessment of their students.
The current research would provide the description of two psychological theories which are relent to the work: rational emotive behavioral theory (REBT) and person-centered theory.
REBT is a pragmatic, present-oriented technique that centers in present beliefs, dysfunctional emotions, and maladaptive behaviors and the relationship among them (Terjesen & Kurasaki, 2009, p.3). It is effectively used for helping both adults and children. The theory was developed in the 1950s by Albert Ellis with the aim of decreasing the undesirable clients emotions and behaviors through changing thoughts and believes which activate the event or associated with a trigger (Terjesen & Kurasaki, 2009). According to this theory, emotions originate from the personal perceives, interpretation and evaluation of the situation, instead of actual events. Cognitions, feelings and behaviors should not be considered in the isolation from one another, because they are interconnected.
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The REBT is based on the ABC explanatory sequence of emotional disturbance (The Ohio State University, 2014, p. 6). The letter A means the perceived unpleasant Acting event or a combination (set) of Activating experiences (Terjesen & Kurasaki, 2009). It refers to the emotions which the person feels to some particular event in his life. The next component is evaluative (B). It stands for cognitions and believes which the client has towards the Acting event. Albert Ellis that believes can have either rational or irrational character (Terjesen & Kurasaki, 2009). They can lead to the formation of wishes and preferences or increase stress. The last component (C) refers to the consequences, which the person experience as the function from believes (B) concerning the Activating event (A). Moreover, there is one more step represented by disputing (D) of believes with the use of cognitive, emotional and behavioral techniques (Terjesen & Kurasaki, 2009). Such a step enables clients to recognize the absence of sense in their ideas. Thus, the goal of the therapy becomes replacing Irrational Believes with healthy Rational Believes that will lead to more appropriate and productive emotions and behaviors (Terjesen & Kurasaki, 2009, p. 5).
As it was already noted above, Carl Rogers developed person-centered approach that represents a holistic, organismic theory that regards individual as an integrated whole (Humboldt & Leal, 2012, p. 2). The therapists tried to understand clients from their own frames of reference and personal experience. This is necessary for the determination of the ways of the promotion of growth and development within them. This approach enables to express deeply negative and despairing experience fully felt and received emphatically as a reality of experience (Humboldt & Leal, 2012, p. 2). It is appropriate for the further personal growth, development and reaching of desired outcomes.
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The approach is based on three core conditions: empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard (Gatongi, 2007). The highest priority takes empathy, which is based on the attempts of psychologist to enter the world of the client to sense the clients private world as if were your own, but without loosing the as if quality (Gatongi, 2007, p. 206). A therapist should feel comfortable in his personal world and hold his own identity for the creating of the necessary growth of clients self-identity (Gatongi, 2007). The congruence refers to the transparency and honesty of the therapist. This person should keep the client aware concerning his own feelings. It makes the client feel safe, force the changes in client being as this person becomes more open for self-exploration. The unconditional positive regard is reflected in a non-judgmental and non-threatening warmth. Thus, clients may express their feelings and experiences freely without any risk of helpers acceptance and respect. Any psychologist should be able to accept the client without seeking to approve of his or her behavior, accepting the client as a person of worth (Gatongi, 2007, p. 207).
Research Methods for Gathering Data
Qualitative and mixed research methods will be considered below, because they are widely used by researchers for gathering information and testing hypothesis.
A qualitative research is characterized by its emphasis on qualities or essences of the categories of the phenomenon of study (Brown & Lent, 2000, p. 199). Researchers usually gather data through the observation of the actions and listening of works of clients. They enter the common life of a participant, studies his behavior over certain period of time.
Checklists and protocols are used very rarely, because a researcher is interested in the categories that evolve from the people studies rather than categories from theory that have been operationalized by the researcher (Brown & Lent, 2000, p.200). The interviews are used very seldom, because researchers intend to uncover stories and categories of participants in their own words, and therefore use the variety of open-ended procedures that may differ in various studies (Brown & Lent, 2000, p. 200). They make accurate visual and verbal records and make inferences from the collected nonnumeric information. The results of the observations are presented in the forms of descriptions, frameworks (both theoretical and conceptual), pictures, diagrams and formal models (Brown & Lent, 2000). The abovementioned information can be used as the secondary source that has the aim to support the earlier studies or ideas. The underlying research is considered to be ideograph, as it is based on the observation of several individuals or their group (Brown & Lent, 2000).
Nowadays, researchers of the counseling psychology are working on the expanding of the existing methods and development of the mixed one. They involve the collection, analysis, and integration of quantitative and qualitative data in a single or multiphase study (Hanson Creswell, Clark, & Creswell, 2005, p. 244). There are different types of mixed methodology. The sequential design includes explanatory, exploratory and transformative. In the first type, quantitative data are collected, analyzed, followed by qualitative data (Hanson et al., 2005, p.229). The last is used for the augmentation of the first type of data. The integration of data is usually performed at the interpretation stage. Such designs are mostly used for the explanation of relationships and study of findings which were unpredicted and unexpected. In the exploratory design, qualitative data are collected and analyzed first, followed by quantitative data (Hanson et al., 2005, p.229). This design is usually used for the exploration of relationships when the variables of the study are unknown, development of the new assessment instruments, and generalization of previous qualitative studies. In the transformative design, quantitative data may be collected and analyzed, followed by qualitative data or conversely (Hanson et al., 2005, p. 229). The researchers may set unequal priorities to these tools, which might be dependent on particular needs and preferences of some particular research. The transformative design is used for the better understanding of some phenomenon.
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The concurrent design contains triangulation, nested, and transformative designs. In the first type, quantitative and qualitative data are collected and analyzed at the same time (Hanson et al., 2005, p.229). Scholars usually set equal priorities. However, the data analyzed separately, and the integration is performed at the interpretation stage. Then, researchers discuss the extent of converge of data. The design is used for the confirmation, cross-validation of findings (Hanson et al., 2005). Unlike triangulation design, the priority in the nested design is unequal, because less prioritized form of data may be included to help answer an altogether different question (Hanson et al., 2005, p. 229). Such a design enables gaining the broader view on the studies matter. The transformative design usually contains the statement of certain purpose, research questions, and implications for changes and actions. Researchers perform simultaneous collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data. They can use both equal and unequal priorities. This design is used for the similar purpose as transformative: the better understanding of a phenomenon.
Description of Studies
The first empirical study that relates to the work of counselor is Person-centered therapy and older adults self-esteem: A pilot study with follow-up (2012). In this study, researchers suggested that higher self-esteem is connected with the reduced difference between ideal and real (Gatongi, 2007, p. 1). The aim of the work was the investigation whether a person-centered therapy on older adults can improve their self-esteem. The academics developed the hypothesis that individuals who participated in the therapy will show the better results that those who did not attend the sessions (the control group). The total number of participants was 81 people, aged 65 to 81 years old (40 took part in the person-centered therapy, when 41 were randomized to control group) (Gatongi, 2007). The therapy lasted for 8 weeks (one session during one week). The measurements include the information concerning the demographics and the self-esteem scale (SES) at the baseline, post-treatment and at the 12-month follow-up (Gatongi, 2007, p.1). The results showed that the difference between the ideal self and the real self in the individuals who participated in person-centered therapy were on 41 % lower than in the individuals from the control group (Gatongi, 2007). Such a positive tendency held even during the post-intervention period. These results showed that the therapy is rather beneficial for the improvement of self-esteem of older clients. Hence, it could be used for the promotion of the human welfare.
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The next empirical research under the name Closing the gap: A group counseling approach to improve test performance of African-American students (2009) was performed for the evaluation of the influence of group counseling intervention on the achievements rates of African Americans (Bruce, Getch, & Ziomek-Daigle, 2009). It was determined in the course of spring tests in Georgia (Bruce, Getch, & Ziomek-Daigle, 2009). The participants were fifteen 11th grade African-American students (Bruce, Getch, & Ziomek-Daigle, 2009). They were asked to complete the special questionnaire over the course of research period that contains the information concerning students self-assessment of school success behavior and attribution, school climate survey, and group evaluation (Bruce, Getch, & Ziomek-Daigle, 2009). The counseling was performed during the 10-week period. Before the intervention, the achievement gap between African-American students and White students on the Enhanced Math narrowed during the 2007-2008 testing period was 63.2 % (Bruce, Getch, & Ziomek-Daigle, 2009, p. 450). After intervention completion, the pass rate increased on 38.7 % compared to the previous year (Bruce, Getch, & Ziomek-Daigle, 2009). The current study shows that counseling intervention can have the considerable positive effect on students and lead to the promotion of the individual development in the non-traditional manner.
Description of the Occupation
I plan to enter the occupation of mental health counselor. This individual is engaged in counseling with the emphasis of prevention (Summary report, 2016). Personal and group work is directed on the promotion of mental and emotional health (Summary report, 2016). The clients may suffer from the issues connected with substance abuse and addictions, marital, family and parenting problems, management of stresses, aging and self-esteem. There are several tasks for the person of this occupation. The first one is the maintenance of confidential records of treatment of clients. Mental health counselor should encourage patients to express their feelings and discuss the events in their lives. It is done with the aim to help individuals develop insight into themselves and their relationships with the world. The information about clients is collected through observations, interviews and tests. Increased attention is paid to the assessment of clients risk to suicide. The counselor should fill out and maintain client-oriented paperwork, including federal- and state-mandated forms, client diagnostic records, and progress notes (Summary report, 2016).
An individual who intends to become the mental health counselor should have the specific knowledge in psychology, therapy and counseling, customer and personal service, sociology and anthropology, and English language (Summary report, 2016). The knowledge in psychology is represented by the acknowledgement about individuals behavior and performance, abilities, personality, and interests, psychological research methods, learning and motivation, and the methods of assessing and treating affective and behavioral disorders. Therapy and counseling is reflected in the knowledge of methods, principles and procedures of diagnostics, treatment, and rehabilitation of metal and physical issues, and career guidance. The realization with regards to customer and personal knowledge contains the information about principles and methods of providing of these services (like assessment of needs, corresponding and meeting quality standards and assessment of customers satisfaction). Knowledge about the behavior and dynamics, societal influences and trends, cultures, migration, origins, history and ethnicity refers to sociology and anthropology. Moreover, the counselor should know and use the correct structure and content of English (like, spelling and meaning of words and grammar) (Summary report, 2016).
Mental health counselor should have such skills as active listening, social perceptiveness, service orientation, speaking, and critical thinking (Summary report, 2016). This person should give much attention to what people are saying for the understanding on which events they put emphasis, which involves asking the clarification questions and avoiding of interruption. Social perceptiveness is reflected in the awareness concerning the reactions of other people and reasons of these reactions. Counselors should look for the ways of helping people through the effective conveyance of the information and using logic for the identification of strength and weaknesses of conclusions.
The work styles of counselors are the following: self control, concern to others, integrity, stress tolerance and dependability (Summary report, 2016). These people should control their emotions (especially anger) and accept criticism calmly. In the same time, counsel should be sensitive to needs and feelings of others, express honesty and ethics towards the clients, reliable and responsible (Summary report, 2016).
The Use of Curriculum and Internships
Classes and internship were effectively used for the improvement of personal knowledge of human behavior, causes and consequences of actions and emotions. Within the curriculum, I mastered personal skills of rendering service to clients, i.e. more accurate determination of their needs and wishes. During my classes and the internship, I paid much attention to listening of what other people saying and on which matters they make the emphasis for the determination of the reasons of their actions and feelings through the application of logic and reasoning. All of my efforts were directed on assisting people in coping with their negative emotions, even when these emotions were directed on making me loose. I tried to keep my emotions and express ethics and empathy.
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