Education | Counseling Theory
G522 | 6199 | 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
client in alleviating distress through informed interventions.  All
interventions are preceded by a series of questions:

(1)  What is the nature of the problem or of
personality/psychological functioning?
(2)  What keeps the person from helping him- or herself (nature of
self-help, support, motivation, circumstances surrounding problem)?
(3)  In what ways can I help the person resolve the problem (role of
(4)  In what ways am I limited in the services I can offer (utility
of counseling relative to broader system issues)?

The answers to these questions help to bring coherence and order to
decisions on how to behave as a counselor or therapist.  This course
is about these answers.  Theories are intended to serve as conceptual
maps for practitioners in their work with clients or students.

As your instructor, I will help acquaint you with a cross-section of
theories that are designed to guide the practices of counselors in
their work with children, adults, families, groups and even
communities.  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 like
culture, gender, class, and race socialization.  There are many
theories, each one different from the next in regards to 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, critical and/or 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

In what ways can I assist the person in making moral decisions about
his or her actions?
This question examines contexts relative to counseling and has
bearing on ethics and professional integrity and competence.

Course Objectives

To become well-acquainted with several counseling theories, their
premises about human nature, psychological (dys)functioning, the role
the counselor/therapist, and the nature of counseling and

To learn about major differences and similarities between schools of
thought based on the five “big questions” (above);

To promote critical thinking (the social construction of how people
come to understand themselves and the world around them) as this
relates to theories of change and, by implication, to social justice

To understand the synergistic relationship between biological,
psychological, and social factors that influence human behavior and

To encourage the development of self --- YOU --- 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 through


There are two exams in this course, both given in class.  The first
exam is scheduled for October 8th, the second on November 12.  The
exams will be a combination of multiple choice and short answer
formats.  Students are expected to study the material from the
readings, course lectures, and films up through the class preceding
the examination dates.  The second exam is cumulative.  Each exam is
worth 30 points (total 60 points).

There is a two-part assignment in the course.  The written paper is
due November 26th by the end of class.  The oral portion, which
should be about 6-7 minutes (please practice to stay within time
limit), will be presented during one of the three final days of
class.  I will assign presentation dates arbitrarily.

Written assignment.   Students must choose a topic related to
biological bases of behavior (see below for suggested topics).
Please think about your interest areas in the next few weeks, but let
me know in writing what your topic will be on September 24th.  We’ll
discuss topics in class to determine overlaps and figure out the best
way to make final decisions.  Please let me have your final topic and
title in writing (email is fine) by October 8th.
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, and should include a cover page, running
head, references in correct style, etc.  You should consult at about
10 references.

Oral assignment. You will present your paper in class.  I have found
that an easier way for students to present their papers is to use
PowerPoint.  Please have your PowerPoint slides ready on diskettes to
avoid excessive lag time between presentations.

Suggested topics:

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.

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
of hermaphrodites.

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
alcohol use.

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 30
points.  You are also asked to present your papers during one of the
final three days of the course.  Presentations are worth 10 points
(you’ll be graded on how well you’re able to articulate your ideas
and present them visually).  (Total points for written and oral
assignments:  40).

Schedule of Classes

Sept. 3				
Welcome and Overview of Syllabus
Ways of Knowing:  An Introduction to Systems Theory
The Nature of Change:  First-Order versus Second-Order Change
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapters 1-3;
Doherty, Chapters 1-2			

Sept. 10			
Five Ways to Approach the Theories
Robert Coles and The Moral Development of Children
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapters 4-5
Oncourse:  Teyber, Interpersonal Processes

Sept. 17			
Psychoanalytic and Neo-Freudian Therapies
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapters 6 & 8
Corey, Chapter 6-7
Doherty, Chapters 3-5

Sept. 24	
Humanistic-existential-phenomonology therapies:  Existential and
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapter 7
Doherty 6-7
Oncourse:  Rogers, Client-Centered Therapy

Oct. 1				
Humanistic therapies, contd.:  Person-Centered Therapy
Three approaches to psychotherapy (The Infamous Gloria tape)
Oct. 8				
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapters 9 & 10
Doherty, Chapter 8 and postscript

Oct. 8				
Behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and “action” therapies:  Reality
and Multimodal Therapies
Three approaches to psychotherapy; Albert Ellis, A Demonstration with
an Elementary School-Aged Child	
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapter 11
Oncourse:  Burns, Feeling Good

Oct. 15				
Behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and “action” therapies, contd.
Self-help books:  How useful are they?
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapter 13
Oncourse readings:  To be announced
Oct. 22				
Family systems therapies; Co-dependency
Sexual abuse, violence
Family Baggage, Part I and II (108 minutes total)
Oncourse:  Martín-Baró, Writings for a liberation psychology
Other readings to be announced

Oct. 29				
Critical, and Multicultural Theories
Possible guest speaker
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapter 12
Oncourse:  Readings to be announced

Nov. 5				
Feminist Therapy
Readings for next week:  Corey, 14

Nov. 12			
Readings for next week:  Corey, Chapter 14
Integrative-eclectic approaches

Nov. 19			
Integrative-eclectic approaches
Art of Integrative Counseling and Psychotherapy	

Nov. 26			
Written Assignments Due Today
Presentations, Day One

Dec. 3				
Presentations, Day Two

Dec. 10			
Presentations, Day Three


Suggestions for getting the most from the course (adapted from Corey,

Carefully study the contents in this course outline.  Any questions
you have will be clarified during our second class meeting.

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 degree program.  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.

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

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.

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.

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%.

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.

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

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.


A  = Outstanding achievement.  Unusually complete command of the
course content; exceptionally high level of scholarship. (93-98; 98-
100 = A+)

A- = Excellent achievement.  Very thorough command of course content;
very high level of scholarship. (90-92)

B+ = Very good achievement.  Thorough command of course material. (88-

B   = Good achievement.  Solid, acceptable performance. (83-87)

B- = Fair achievement.  Acceptable performance. (80-82)

C+ = Not wholly satisfactory achievement.  Marginal performance on
some aspects of the course      requirements. (78-79)

C   = Marginal achievement.  Minimally acceptable performance on
course assignments. (73-77)

C-  = Unsatisfactory achievement.  Inadequate knowledge of course
content. (70-72)

And so on and so forth.

Topics from Last Year’s G522 Class

Presentations on 12/4

Lori Kleinrichert, “Neurological and Social Complications Associated
with AIDS”
Lauren Previdi, “Sleep Deprivation and Adolescence”
Marcy Hochhalter, “Dieting:  A Physical and Psychological Disorder”
Seung Hee Kwon, “Understanding Depression in Women:  Risk Factors”
Amy Winkler, “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”
Vicki Pierce, “Cognitive Effects of Long-Term Alcohol Abuse in Women
and Social
Michelle Byers, “Testosterone, Evolution and Future Outlook:  A
Theory of Male Risk
Taking Behavior”
Jang Hoi Kim, “The Effects of Nutrition on Fitness”
Jane Liu, “Biological and Social Implications of Marijuana Use Among
Adolescents and
Young Adults”
Kamatchi M., “Adolescent Sexuality and Sexual Behavior”
Jeffrey Badger, “Ritalin:  A Look into the Biological and Societal
Effects in Adolescents”
Jenny Fanter, “Alcohol Use by Adolescents”
Ray Clere, “Anorexia Nervosa and the Adolescent Female”
Hermine Cohen, “Bipolar Disorder”

Presentations on 12/11

Sarah Bellet, “Marijuana and Implications of its Use”
Jennifer Carr, “Effects of Ecstacy on Adolescents”
Chien-yi Chu, “Depression and Older People”
Stacey Ginder, “Biological and Social Aspects of the Use of
Antidepressants in
Laura Kelly, “Ritalin and Society”
Holly Lantz, “Psychological Aspects of Pregnancy”
Jonathan Mosko, “Uncomfortably Numb:  The Cognitive Effects of
Prolonged Alcohol
Stephanie Powell, “Postpartum Mood Disorders:  A Brief Overview of
the Symptoms,
Etiology, Treatment Approaches, and Social Aspects Associated with
the Disorders”
Jordan Reed, “Biological Basis and Social Factors Related to
Cigarette Smoking”
Lizette Salzman, “Depression:  Etiology, Cultural Conceptions, and
Social Stigma”
Tong-an (Fred) Sueh, “The Mysterious and Misunderstood Anxiety:
Compulsive Disorder”
Erin Snyder, “Biological and Social Factors of Psychological Distress
Arising from
Yu-ting Su, “Feast and Famine:  The Onset of Bulimia Nervosa”
I-Chen Tseng, “Tourette Syndrome and the Psychosocial Influences”
Yi-Chen (Jenny) Wu, “Depression Related to Gender Differences in