When people are thinking about becoming a counsellor or therapist, there can sometimes be some confusion as to what counselling model to study, and at times even ask should I study CBT or Counselling?
With so many different types of therapy being practiced, all of which ultimately aim to help the client overcome a range of emotional problems, it’s not surprising the waters can become muddied.
This blog hopes to provide clarity and reassure those thinking of training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (and specifically Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, or REBT), that it is most definitely a counselling and psychotherapy model.
It is important for clients, employers or placement providers for trainee counsellors to have accurate information to make informed decisions. The ideas that underpin each counselling model have a profound effect on the techniques we develop and the way we ‘do’ our work or the way we counsel. The model a counsellor uses, their ‘therapeutic bias or preference’, will even affect what is considered important or relevant during sessions. But just because there are different types, it does not mean one is more ‘authentically’ counselling than the other.
Many models of counselling
There are many different theories of counselling available to choose from, whether as a practitioner or a client. Some of the most well-known include:
- Psychodynamic therapy, which includes Psychoanalysis (Freud), Analytical Psychotherapy (Jung), Individual Psychology (Adler), Object-Relations (Fairbairn, Winnicott and Guntrip)
- Learning Theory Approaches which includes Reinforcement and Psychoanalytic therapy (Dollard and Miller), Behavioural (Wolpe)
- Perceptual – Phenomenological Approaches which includes Personal Constructs and Psychotherapy (Kelly), Transactional Analysis (Berne), Gestalt (Perls), Client Centred (Rogers)
- Existential which includes Logotherapy (Frankl)
- Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy which includes REBT (Ellis), CT (Beck), and Cognitive Behavioural Modification (Meichenbaum)
All of these are counselling theories. ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)’ is an umbrella term for several different theories that share common principles, just as ‘Psychodynamic Therapy’ is an umbrella term for a different set of theories that share common principles.
In addition, there are some approaches that combine Psychodynamic and CBT models such as Schema Therapy, as well as therapies that are developed for Personality Disorders such as Schema and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy that combine CBT and other approaches, and so on.
Informed choice is key
When deciding on what counselling to train in or take, it is important to make an informed choice. We don’t have room in a single blog to explain what each of the different types of counselling mentioned above entail, and how they differ. Prospective counsellors must do their research and choose the model that they think best suits them, their strengths, experiences and ways of working.
But equally important is questioning received ideas or misconceptions about different models. So, some non-CBT counsellors think that CBT counsellors don’t pay any attention to the therapeutic relationship (the working relationship between the client and the counsellor), which is completely untrue. Of course, a CBT-counsellor will work hard to develop an open, trusting and relaxed working relationship. We are, after all, encouraging our clients to be frank and honest with their experiences and beliefs. How could we expect them to share these things if they did not trust us?
In Psychodynamic counselling, for example, the therapeutic alliance is viewed as the ‘the most significant condition or the central vehicle through which change occurs. In contrast, A CBT counsellor sees the therapeutic alliance as significant and very important, whilst viewing that change happens from a client changing their mindset and their behaviour, and that is a process that starts from understanding emotional responsibility, emotions, facing our past, present and future and developing skills of critical thinking and healthy behaviours. Without a therapeutic alliance effective change would be limited regardless of the counselling model used.
Even under the CBT ‘umbrella’ there can be differences. REBT, for example, can be described as philosophical and existential in nature, whilst others are less so. And even Albert Ellis himself, the founder of REBT, acknowledged that sometimes it can appear more guided or didactic than other methods, focused as it is on identifying and achieving tangible emotional and behavioural goals.
Essentially, we at CCBT believe that understanding the range of different psychotherapy models currently practiced, their differences and individual benefits or drawbacks, is key to becoming a well-rounded and helpful counsellor. We even include a overview of the many different schools and how you can include them in your REBT practice on our Advanced Diploma in Integrative CBT/REBT I and Advanced Diploma in Integrative CBT/REBT II. It might even be useful, when talking about such matters, to start using terms such as term CBT Counselling, Psychodynamic Counselling etc. Clarity in word will often lead to clarity in thought, after all!
If you have questions about CBT, REBT, or training to become a counsellor, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org , and we’d be happy to answer your questions.
Avy Joseph and Nick Jones