Education | Counseling Theory
G522 | 5941 | Dr. Chalmer Thompson
People are biological, psychological, and social beings. The
distresses they experience are a byproduct of these interlocking
factors. The role of the counselor or therapist is to assist the
person seeking to alleviate his or her distress through intervention.
All interventions are preceded by some assessment of the problem. The
counselor may ask: What is the nature of the problem
(assessment/diagnosis)? What keeps the person from helping him- or
herself (nature of self-help, support, circumstances surrounding
problem)? In what ways can I help the person resolve the problem
(role of counselor/counseling)? In what ways am I limited in the
services I can offer (utility of counseling relative to broader system
These questions beg for answers that will present coherence and order
to decisions on how to behave as a counselor or therapist. This
course is about these answers --- the theories that are intended to
serve as conceptual maps for practitioners in their work with clients
or students. As your instructor, I hope to acquaint you with a
cross-section of theories that are designed to guide the practices of
counselors in their work with children, adults, and families. You
will learn about the theories that appear to have "staying power" in
the psychology profession, as well as a few less-popular theories that
enfold aspects of the person that have been minimized or even omitted
in many theories, aspects such as culture, gender, and race
There are many theories, each one different from the next in regards
four questions posed earlier. This course will focus on six
categories of theories, each representing different schools of
thought: (1) psychoanalytic or neo-Freudian theories; (2)
humanistic-existential-phenomenological theories; (3) behavioral,
cognitive-behavioral, and "action" theories; (4) family systems
theories; (5) feminist and multicultural theory; and (6) integrative
or eclectic theories.
Starting with the four questions posed in the first paragraph, I will
encourage students to critically evaluate several theories based on
these fundamental features. We will begin the semester, however, with
some general overview on phenomenology, or ways of knowing, to have a
basis from which to begin these evaluations.
A fifth question to be added to these evaluations relates to moral
responsibility: In what ways can I assist the person in making moral
decisions about his or her actions? This question examines cultural
contexts relative to counseling and has bearing on ethics and
professional integrity and competence.
(1)To learn several counseling theories, their premises about human
nature, human function and dysfunction, and the role and nature of
counseling and psychotherapy;
(2)To learn major differences and similarities between schools of
(3)To promote critical thinking about theories of change
(4)To increase knowledge about the biological, psychological, and
social factors that dynamically influence human behavior and
(5)To encourage the development of self relative to moral and ethical
responsibility, integrity, and professionalism.
Corey, G. (2001). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy
(6th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Doherty, W. J. (1995). Soul searching: Why psychotherapy must
promote moral responsibility. New York: Basic.
Reserved Readings: A compilation of readings is available at the
School of Education Library Front Desk. Ask for the reserved readings
for G522, and the last name of the author. I will make several copies
available of these reserved readings.
There is one exam in this course, a midterm, given in class on October
30th. The exam will be a combination of multiple choice and short
answer. Students are expected to study the material from the
readings, course lectures, and films up through October 16th and the
course lecture/film from the October 23th class. The course lecture
and film from this class will merely emphasize the reading material
from the prior week. The final exam is worth 50 points and half of
the total number of points earned for the course.
There is one major assignment in the course that is due on November
27th. Students must choose a topic related to biological bases of
behavior (see below for suggested topics). The first five pages of
your paper should be descriptive of the topic, neither overly
technical nor overly simplistic. (A good gauge is to make sure that
your peers will be able to understand it). These first five pages
constitute the first section of your paper.
The second section of your paper will address the social factors that
relate to your topic. These social factors may relate to stigmas
related to the disorder or illnesses. A question to respond to in
this section is: "In what ways are people with these concerns or
problems perceived by others in society (American society, or if you
choose, other societies that you identify with)." This section should
also be no longer than 5 pages and well-referenced. Your papers
should be written in accordance to the latest edition of the APA
Publications Manual. You should consult at least 10 references. I'll
talk in greater detail about these references during class. Please
make sure that these references are used for each section of the
I. Hereditary Factors and Illnesses Related to Psychological Problems:
topics can include the linkage between family history and clinical
depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar depression; neurological
problems associated with AIDS; psychological manifestations of brain
dysfunction and impairment.
II. Biological or Hormonal Factors Related to Reproductive
Experiences, Maturation, or Sexuality: topics can include the
psychological distresses related to biological factors that can arise
from menopause, childbirth and pregnancy, aging, body/weight changes
during puberty; biological factors related to the sexual development
III. Influence of Pharmaceuticals, Nicotine, and Alcohol: topics can
include effects of certain prescribed or illicit drugs on behavior,
side effects of certain psychotropic drugs, what to expect from
Ritalin at different age levels, and cognitive effects of prolonged
IV. Prenatal Conditions, Developmental History, and Nutrition/Fitness:
topics can include effects of alcohol and substance use/abuse on
behaviors and development of children, the relevance of an
individual's development history (e.g., walking, talking, toileting)
on current psychological functioning (for children or adults), effects
of prolonged hunger on development, and how diet and exercise
influence psychological functioning.
If you wish to select a topic that does not appear on this list,
please come see me so that I can approve it. Papers are worth 40
points. You are also asked to present your papers during one of the
final three days of the course. Presentations are worth 10 points.
Schedule of Classes
Sept. 4 Welcome and Overview of Syllabus
Ways of Knowing: An Introduction to Systems Theory
The Nature of Change: First-Order versus Second-Order Change
Psychotherapies (60-minute videotape)
Readings for next week: Corey, Chapters 1-3;
Doherty, Chapters 1-2
Sept. 11 Moment of Silence for One Year Since 9-11-01
Five Ways of Approaching the Theories
Robert Coles and The Moral Development of Children
Readings for next week: Corey, Chapters 4-5
On reserve: Teyber, Interpersonal Processes,
Sept. 18 Psychoanalytic and Neo-Freudian Therapies
Techniques of Play Therapy: A Clinical Demonstration (50 min.)
Readings for next week: Corey, Chapters 6 & 8
Corey, Chapter 6-7
Doherty, Chapters 3-5
Sept. 25 Humanistic-existential-phenomonology therapies: Existential
Readings for next week: Corey, Chapter 7
On reserve: Rogers, Client-Centered Therapy
Oct. 2 Humanistic therapies, contd.: Person-Centered Therapy
Person-Centered Therapy with Dr. Natalie Rogers (100 min.)
Readings for next week: Corey, Chapters 9 & 10
Doherty, Chapter 8 and postscript
Oct. 9 Behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and "action" therapies:
Reality and Multimodal Therapies
Managing the Disruptive Classroom: Strategies for Educators (The Use
of Reality Therapy to Classroom Practices)
Readings for next week: Corey, Chapter 11
On reserve: Burns, Feeling Good
Oct. 16 Behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and "action" therapies,
Albert Ellis, A Demonstration: An Elementary School Aged Child (30
min.); Intervention: Facing Reality (31 min.)
Readings for next week: Corey, Chapter 13
Oct. 23 Family systems therapies; Co-dependency
Family Baggage, Part I and II (108 minutes total)
Oct. 30 MIDTERM EXAM
Readings for next week: Corey, Chapter 12
Martin-Baro, Writings for a liberation psychology
Thompson, C. E. "Awareness and Identity"
Nov. 6 Feminist Therapy
Multicultural Therapy: New Paradigms
Readings for next week: Corey, 14
Readings on reserve to be announced
Nov. 13 Integrative-eclectic approaches
Art of Integrative Counseling and Psychotherapy (2 parts; first video
64 minutes, second is 30 minutes)
Readings on reserve to be announced
Nov. 20 Integrative-eclectic approaches, contd.
Counseling beyond the individual, group, and family
Guest Speaker (currently being arranged)
Nov. 27 Assignments Due Today
Presentations, Day One
Dec. 4 Presentations, Day Two
Dec. 11 Presentations, Day Three
A = Outstanding achievement. Unusually complete command of the course
content; exceptionally high level of scholarship.
A- = Excellent achievement. Very thorough command of course content;
very high level of scholarship.
B+ = Very good achievement. Thorough command of course material.
B = Good achievement. Solid, acceptable performance.
B- = Fair achievement. Acceptable performance.
C+ = Not wholly satisfactory achievement. Marginal performance on
some aspects of the course requirements.
C = Marginal achievement. Minimally acceptable performance on course
C- = Unsatisfactory achievement. Inadequate knowledge of course
Courses with a grade of C- or lower may not be counted in graduate
Suggestions for getting the most from the course (adapted from Corey,
1.Carefully study the contents in this course outline. Any questions
you have will be clarified during our second class meeting.
2.Ask yourself if you have the time and are willing to devote the time
and effort needed to do a quality job for this important course in
your major. Success in this course will require time and effort
devoted to class attendance and participation, course readings, the
class assignment, and studying for and taking the exam.
3.Don't allow yourself to get behind in your reading! Because class
time will be devoted in part to a discussion of readings, it is
essential that all course readings be examined thoroughly. Students
should be prepared to ask questions or raise issues based on the
readings as well as to discuss the implications of the assigned
4.After each session, make and organize your notes for the topic of
that day. It is a good idea to write a rough draft of your paper
during the early weeks of the paper and to begin consulting references
as soon as possible. This is a good way to avoid the problem of
writing a paper in a single week.
5.Come to class with an open frame of mind and be willing to take some
risks. Because this is an introductory course, you are NOT expected
to have counseling experience. Don't allow yourself to be
intimidated. Hopefully, you will challenge your fears and push
yourself to become an active and involved participant.
6.The paper is intended to help you integrate the material. Consult
this outline early for the details. These papers must be typewritten,
proofread, and double-spaced, and are expected to show evidence of
clear thought. Papers are one of the most important aspects use to
determine your course grade, and surely the most valuable tool in
helping you learn to integrate the material. Plan ahead so that your
papers will be turned in ON TIME in quality fashion. Late papers will
be subjected to lowering the overall grade. The late penalty is 20%.
7.Of course you are expected to attend every class session, unless
there is a valid emergency/reason. Promptness is expected and
appreciated --- it cuts down distractions to me and to your peers.
8.Respect confidentiality! Being actively involved in the class
sessions and in small groups entails some level of personal
self-disclosure. If we are to create the environment of trust and
openness needed to learn about counseling, it is extremely important
that confidentiality be maintained. Revealing personal information
about others outside the classroom is a breach of confidentiality. If
you wish to share with others outside the classroom, please reveal
only your reactions and understanding and avoid using names or
identifying features of your classmates.
9.Make use of my email. I check it just about everyday and will make
responding to you a priority. And most of all, enjoy this course. My
main hope is that you surprise yourself with how much you will
challenge yourself and how much you will learn.