Counseling psychology is a psychological specialty that encompasses
research and applied work in several broad domains: counseling process
and outcome; supervision and training; career development and
counseling; and prevention and health. Some unifying themes among
counseling psychologists include a focus on assets and strengths,
person–environment interactions, educational and career development,
brief interactions, and a focus on intact personalities.
In Australia, counseling psychology programs are accredited by the
Psychological Society (APS). To become licensed as a
counseling psychologist, one must meet the criteria for a
psychologist's licence: 3 years studying bachelor's degree in
Psychology, 4th year Honours degree or Postgraduate Diploma in
Psychology, and two-year full-time supervised practice plus 80 hours
of professional development.
2 Employment and salary
3 Process and outcome
3.1 Therapist variables
3.2 Client variables
3.3 Counseling relationship
3.4 Cultural variables
3.5 Counseling ethics
3.6 Outcome measurement
3.7 Process and outcome research methods
4 Training and supervision
4.1 Professional training process
4.2 Training models and research
4.3 Supervision models and research
5 Vocational development and career counseling
5.1 Vocational theories
5.2 Career counseling
6 Professional journals
7 See also
The term "counselling" is of American origin, coined by Rogers, who,
lacking a medical qualification was prevented from calling his work
psychotherapy. In the U.S., counselling psychology, like many
modern psychology specialties, started as a result of World War II.
During the war, the U.S. military had a strong need for vocational
placement and training. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Veterans
Administration created a specialty called "counseling psychology", and
Division 17 (now known as the Society for Counseling Psychology) of
the APA was formed. The Society of Counseling
psychologists, students and professionals who are dedicated to promote
education and training, practice, scientific investigation, diversity
and public interest in the field of professional psychology. This
fostered interest in counselor training, and the creation of the first
few counseling psychology PhD programs. The first counseling
psychology PhD programs were at the University of Minnesota, Ohio
State University, University of Maryland, College Park, University of
Missouri, Teachers College, Columbia University, and University of
Texas at Austin.
In recent decades, counseling psychology as a profession has expanded
and is now represented in numerous countries around the world. Books
describing the present international state of the field include the
Handbook of Counseling and
Psychotherapy in an International
Context; the International Handbook of Cross-Cultural
Counseling; and Counseling Around the World: An International
Handbook. Taken together these volumes trace the global history of
the field, explore divergent philosophical assumptions, counseling
theories, processes, and trends in different countries, and review a
variety of global counselor education programs. Moreover, traditional
and indigenous treatment and healing methods that may predate modern
counseling methods by hundreds of years remain of significance in many
non-Western and Western countries.
Employment and salary
Counseling psychologists are employed in a variety of settings
depending on the services they provide and the client populations they
serve. Some are employed in colleges and universities as teachers,
supervisors, researchers, and service providers. Others are employed
in independent practice providing counseling, psychotherapy,
assessment, and consultation services to individuals,
couples/families, groups, and organizations. Additional settings in
which counseling psychologists practice include community mental
health centers, Veterans Administration medical centers and other
facilities, family services, health maintenance organizations,
rehabilitation agencies, business and industrial organizations and
consulting within firms.
The amount of training required for psychologists differs based on the
country in which they are practicing. Typically, a psychologist
completes an Undergraduate Degree followed by 2 years of further study
and/or training. While both psychologists and psychiatrists offer
counselling, psychiatrists must possess a medical degree and thus are
able to prescribe medication where psychologists are not.
In 2017, the median salary for counseling psychologists in the United
States was US$88,395.
Process and outcome
Counseling psychologists are interested in answering a variety of
research questions about counseling process and outcome. Counseling
process refers to how or why counseling happens and progresses.
Counseling outcome addresses whether or not counseling is effective,
under what conditions it is effective, and what outcomes are
considered effective—such as symptom reduction, behavior change, or
quality of life improvement. Topics commonly explored in the study of
counseling process and outcome include therapist variables, client
variables, the counseling or therapeutic relationship, cultural
variables, process and outcome measurement, mechanisms of change, and
process and outcome research methods. Classic approaches appeared
early in the US in the field of humanistic psychology by Carl Rogers
who identified the mission of counseling interview as "to permit
deeper expression that the client would ordinarily allow himself"
Therapist variables include characteristics of a counselor or
psychotherapist, as well as therapist technique, behavior, theoretical
orientation and training. In terms of therapist behavior, technique
and theoretical orientation, research on adherence to therapy models
has found that adherence to a particular model of therapy can be
helpful, detrimental, or neutral in terms of impact on outcome.
A recent meta-analysis of research on training and experience suggests
that experience level is only slightly related to accuracy in clinical
judgment. Higher therapist experience has been found to be related
to less anxiety, but also less focus. This suggests that there is
still work to be done in terms of training clinicians and measuring
Client characteristics such as help-seeking attitudes and attachment
style have been found to be related to client use of counseling, as
well as expectations and outcome. Stigma against mental illness can
keep people from acknowledging problems and seeking help. Public
stigma has been found to be related to self-stigma, attitudes towards
counseling, and willingness to seek help.
In terms of attachment style, clients with avoidance styles have been
found to perceive greater risks and fewer benefits to counseling, and
are less likely to seek professional help, than securely attached
clients. Those with anxious attachment styles perceive greater
benefits as well as risks to counseling. Educating clients about
expectations of counseling can improve client satisfaction, treatment
duration and outcomes, and is an efficient and cost-effective
Main article: Therapeutic relationship
The relationship between a counselor and client is the feelings and
attitudes that a client and therapist have towards one another, and
the manner in which those feelings and attitudes are expressed.
Some theorists have suggested that the relationship may be thought of
in three parts: transference and countertransference, working
alliance, and the real—or personal—relationship. Other
theorists argue that the concepts of transference and
countertransference are outdated and inadequate.
Transference can be described as the client's distorted perceptions of
the therapist. This can have a great effect on the therapeutic
relationship. For instance, the therapist may have a facial feature
that reminds the client of their parent. Because of this association,
if the client has significant negative or positive feelings toward
their parent, they may project these feelings onto the therapist. This
can affect the therapeutic relationship in a few ways. For example, if
the client has a very strong bond with their parent, they may see the
therapist as a father or mother figure and have a strong connection
with the therapist. This can be problematic because as a therapist, it
is not ethical to have a more than "professional" relationship with a
client. It can also be a good thing, because the client may open up
greatly to the therapist. In another way, if the client has a very
negative relationship with their parent, the client may feel negative
feelings toward the therapist. This can then affect the therapeutic
relationship as well. For example, the client may have trouble opening
up to the therapist because he or she lacks trust in their parent
(projecting these feelings of distrust onto the therapist).
Another theory about the function of the counseling relationship is
known as the secure-base hypothesis, which is related to attachment
theory. This hypothesis proposes that the counselor acts as a secure
base from which clients can explore and then check in with. Secure
attachment to one's counselor and secure attachment in general have
been found to be related to client exploration. Insecure attachment
styles have been found to be related to less session depth than
securely attached clients.
Counseling psychologists are interested in how culture relates to
help-seeking and counseling process and outcome. Standard surveys
exploring the nature of counselling across cultures and various ethnic
groups include Counseling Across Cultures by Paul B. Pedersen, Juris
G. Draguns, Walter J. Lonner and Joseph E. Trimble, Handbook of
Multicultural Counseling by Joseph G. Ponterotto, J. Manueal Casas,
Lisa A. Suzuki and Charlene M. Alexander and Handbook of Culture,
Therapy, and Healing by Uwe P. Gielen, Jefferson M. Fish and Juris G.
Draguns. Janet E. Helms' racial identity model can be useful for
understanding how the relationship and counseling process might be
affected by the client's and counselor's racial identity. Recent
research suggests that clients who are Black are at risk for
experiencing racial micro-aggression from counselors who are
Efficacy for working with clients who are lesbians, gay men, or
bisexual might be related to therapist demographics, gender, sexual
identity development, sexual orientation, and professional
experience. Clients who have multiple oppressed identities might
be especially at-risk for experiencing unhelpful situations with
counselors, so counselors might need help with gaining expertise for
working with clients who are transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or
transgender people of color, and other oppressed populations.
Gender role socialization can also present issues for clients and
counselors. Implications for practice include being aware of
stereotypes and biases about male and female identity, roles and
behavior such as emotional expression. The APA guidelines for
multicultural competence outline expectations for taking culture into
account in practice and research.
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Perceptions on ethical behaviors vary depending upon geographical
location, but ethical mandates are similar throughout the global
community. Ethical standards are created to help practitioners,
clients and the community avoid any possible harm or potential for
harm. The standard ethical behaviors are centered on "doing no harm"
and preventing harm.
Counselors cannot share any confidential information that is obtained
through the counseling process without specific written consent by the
client or legal guardian except to prevent clear, imminent danger to
the client or others, or when required to do so by a court order.
Insurance companies or government programs will also be notified of
certain information about your diagnosis and treatment to determine if
your care is covered. Those companies and government programs are
bound by HIPAA to keep that information strictly confidential.
Counselors are held to a higher standard that most professionals
because of the intimacy of their therapeutic delivery. Counselors are
not only to avoid fraternizing with their clients. They should avoid
dual relationships, and never engage in sexual relationships.
Counselors are to avoid receiving gifts, favors, or trade for therapy.
In some communities, it may be avoidable given the economic standing
of that community. In cases of children, children and the mentally
handicapped, they may feel personally rejected if an offering is
something such as a "cookie". As counselors, a judgement call must be
made, but in a majority of cases, avoiding gifts, favors, and trade
can be maintained.
National Board for Certified Counselors states that counselors
"shall discuss important considerations to avoid exploitation before
entering into a non-counseling relationship with a former client.
Important considerations to be discussed include amount of time since
counseling service termination, duration of counseling, nature and
circumstances of client's counseling, the likelihood that the client
will want to resume counseling at some time in the future;
circumstances of service termination and possible negative effects or
Counseling outcome measures might look at a general overview of
symptoms, symptoms of specific disorders, or positive outcomes, such
as subjective well-being or quality of life. The Outcome
Questionnaire-45 is a 45-item self-report measure of psychological
distress. An example of disorder-specific measure is the Beck
Depression Inventory. The Quality of Life Inventory is a 17-item
self-report life satisfaction measure.
Process and outcome research methods
Research about the counseling process and outcome uses a variety of
research methodologies to answer questions about if, how, and why
counseling works. Quantitative methods include randomly controlled
clinical trials, correlation studies over the course of counseling, or
laboratory studies about specific counseling process and outcome
Qualitative research methods can involve conducting,
transcribing and coding interviews; transcribing and/or coding therapy
sessions; or fine-grain analysis of single counseling sessions or
Training and supervision
Professional training process
Counseling psychologists are trained in graduate programs. Almost all
programs grant a PhD, but a few grant a MCouns, MEd, MA, PsyD or EdD.
Most doctoral programs take 5–6 years to complete. Graduate work in
counseling psychology includes coursework in general psychology and
statistics, counseling practice, and research. Students must
complete an original dissertation at the end of their graduate
training. Students must also complete a one-year full-time internship
at an accredited site before earning their doctorate. In order to be
licensed to practice, counseling psychologists must gain clinical
experience under supervision, and pass a standardized exam.
In Australia, to become a counseling psychologist one must complete a
two-year master's degree after obtaining a four-year degree in
psychology. There are other avenues available. A substantial
component of this master's degree is dedicated to individual
psychotherapy, family and couples therapy, group therapy,
developmental theory and psychopathology.
Training models and research
Counseling psychology includes the study and practice of counselor
training and counselor supervision. As researchers, counseling
psychologists may investigate what makes training and supervision
effective. As practitioners, counseling psychologists may supervise
and train a variety of clinicians. Counselor training tends to occur
in formal classes and training programs. Part of counselor training
may involve counseling clients under the supervision of a licensed
clinician. Supervision can also occur between licensed clinicians, as
a way to improve clinicians' quality of work and competence with
various types of counseling clients.
As the field of counseling psychology formed in the mid-20th century,
initial training models included Robert Carkuff's human relations
training model, Norman Kagan's Interpersonal Process Recall,
and Allen Ivey's microcounseling skills. Modern training models
include Gerard Egan's skilled helper model, and Clara E. Hill's
three-stage model (exploration, insight, and action). A recent
analysis of studies on counselor training found that modeling,
instruction, and feedback are common to most training models, and seem
to have medium to large effects on trainees.
Supervision models and research
Like the models of how clients and therapists interact, there are also
models of the interactions between therapists and their supervisors.
Edward S. Bordin proposed a model of supervision working alliance
similar to his model of therapeutic working alliance. The Integrated
Development Model considers the level of a client's
motivation/anxiety, autonomy, and self and other awareness. The
Systems Approach to Supervision views the relationship between
supervisor and supervised as most important, in addition to
characteristics of the supervisor's personal characteristics,
counseling clients, training setting, as well as the tasks and
functions of supervision. The Critical Events in Supervision model
focuses on important moments that occur between the supervisor and
Problems can arise in supervision and training. First, supervisors are
liable for malpractice. Also, questions have arisen
as far as a supervisor's need for formal training to be a competent
supervisor. Recent research suggests that conflicting, multiple
relationships can occur between supervisors and clients, such as that
of the client, instructor, and clinical supervisor. The occurrence
of racial micro-aggression against Black clients suggests
potential problems with racial bias in supervision. In general,
conflicts between a counselor and his or her own supervisor can arise
when supervisors demonstrate disrespect, lack of support, and
Vocational development and career counseling
There are several types of theories of vocational choice and
development. These types include trait and factor theories, social
cognitive theories, and developmental theories. Two examples of trait
and factor theories, also known as person–environment fit, are
Holland's theory and the Theory of Work Adjustment.
John Holland hypothesized six vocational personality/interest types
and six work environment types: realistic, investigative, artistic,
social, enterprising, and conventional. When a person's vocational
interests match his or her work environment types, this is considered
congruence. Congruence has been found to predict occupation and
The Theory of Work Adjustment (TWA), as developed by René Dawis and
Lloyd Lofquist, hypothesizes that the correspondence between a
worker's needs and the reinforced systems predicts job satisfaction,
and that the correspondence between a worker's skills and a job's
skill requirements predicts job satisfaction. Job satisfaction and
personal satisfaction together should determine how long one remains
at a job. When there is a discrepancy between a worker's needs or
skills and the job's needs or skills, then change needs to occur
either in the worker or the job environment.
Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) has been proposed by Robert D.
Lent, Steven D. Brown and Gail Hackett. The theory takes Albert
Bandura's work on self-efficacy and expands it to interest
development, choice making, and performance. Person variables in SCCT
include self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations and personal
goals. The model also includes demographics, ability, values, and
environment. Efficacy and outcome expectations are theorized to
interrelate and influence interest development, which in turn
influences choice of goals, and then actions. Environmental supports
and barriers also affect goals and actions. Actions lead to
performance and choice stability over time.
Career development theories propose vocational models that include
changes throughout the lifespan. Donald Super's model proposes a
lifelong five-stage career development process. The stages are growth,
exploration, establishment, maintenance, and disengagement. Throughout
life, people have many roles that may differ in terms of importance
and meaning. Super also theorized that career development is an
implementation of self-concept. Gottfredson also proposed a cognitive
career decision-making process that develops through the
lifespan. The initial stage of career development is
hypothesized to be the development of self-image in childhood, as the
range of possible roles narrows using criteria such as sex-type,
social class, and prestige. During and after adolescence, people take
abstract concepts into consideration, such as interests.
Career counseling may include provision of occupational information,
modeling skills, written exercises, and exploration of career goals
and plans. Career counseling can also involve the use of
personality or career interest assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator, which is based on Carl Jung's theory of psychological
type, or the Strong Interest Inventory, which makes use of Holland's
theory. Assessments of skills, abilities, and values are also commonly
assessed in career counseling.
In the United States, the premier scholarly journals of the profession
are the Journal of Counseling Psychology and The Counseling
The leading counseling psychology journal in
Australia was the
Australian Journal of Counselling Psychology, however it stopped
publication in 2013.
Counseling psychology articles can be submitted
to the counseling psychology section in the Australian
In Europe, the scholarly journals of the profession include the
European Journal of Counselling
Psychology (under the auspices of the
European Association of Counselling Psychology) and the
Psychology Review (under the auspices of the British
Psychological Society). Counselling
Psychology Quarterly is an
international interdisciplinary publication of
Routledge (part of the
Taylor & Francis Group).
List of counseling topics
Outline of psychology
Professional practice of behavior analysis
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Applied behavior analysis
Industrial and organizational
Sport and exercise
Human subject research
William James (1842–1910)
Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936)
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
Edward Thorndike (1874–1949)
Carl Jung (1875–1961)
John B. Watson (1878–1958)
Clark L. Hull (1884–1952)
Kurt Lewin (1890–1947)
Jean Piaget (1896–1980)
Gordon Allport (1897–1967)
J. P. Guilford (1897–1987)
Carl Rogers (1902–1987)
Erik Erikson (1902–1994)
B. F. Skinner (1904–1990)
Donald O. Hebb (1904–1985)
Ernest Hilgard (1904–2001)
Harry Harlow (1905–1981)
Raymond Cattell (1905–1998)
Abraham Maslow (1908–1970)
Neal E. Miller (1909–2002)
Jerome Bruner (1915–2016)
Donald T. Campbell (1916–1996)
Hans Eysenck (1916–1997)
Herbert A. Simon (1916–2001)
David McClelland (1917–1998)
Leon Festinger (1919–1989)
George Armitage Miller (1920–2012)
Richard Lazarus (1922–2002)
Stanley Schachter (1922–1997)
Robert Zajonc (1923–2008)
Albert Bandura (b. 1925)
Roger Brown (1925–1997)
Endel Tulving (b. 1927)
Lawrence Kohlberg (1927–1987)
Noam Chomsky (b. 1928)
Ulric Neisser (1928–2012)
Jerome Kagan (b. 1929)
Walter Mischel (b. 1930)
Elliot Aronson (b. 1932)
Daniel Kahneman (b. 1934)
Paul Ekman (b. 1934)
Michael Posner (b. 1936)
Amos Tversky (1937–1996)
Bruce McEwen (b. 1938)
Larry Squire (b. 1941)
Richard E. Nisbett (b. 1941)
Martin Seligman (b. 1942)
Ed Diener (b. 1946)
Shelley E. Taylor (b. 1946)
John Anderson (b. 1947)
Ronald C. Kessler (b. 1947)
Joseph E. LeDoux (b. 1949)
Richard Davidson (b. 1951)
Susan Fiske (b. 1952)
Roy Baumeister (b. 1953)
Schools of thought
Transference focused psychotherapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Compassion focused therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy
Rational emotive behavior therapy
Combined with Applied behavior analysis
Clinical behavior analysis or CBA
Functional analytic psychotherapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy
Emotionally focused therapy
Common factors theory
Applied behavior analysis
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) (formerly Behavior modification)
Other individual therapy
Philippe Pinel (1745–1826)
Josef Breuer (1842–1925)
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
Pierre Janet (1859–1947)
Alfred Adler (1870–1937)
Sándor Ferenczi (1873–1933)
Carl Jung (1875–1961)
Ludwig Binswanger (1881–1966)
Melanie Klein (1882–1960)
Otto Rank (1884–1939)
Karen Horney (1885–1952)
Harry Stack Sullivan (1892–1949)
Fritz Perls (1893–1970)
Anna Freud (1895–1982)
Donald Winnicott (1896–1971)
Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957)
Milton H. Erickson (1901–1980)
Jacques Lacan (1901–1981)
Erik Erikson (1902–1994)
Carl Rogers (1902–1987)
Viktor Frankl (1905–1997)
George Kelly (1905–1967)
Rollo May (1909–1994)
Virginia Axline (1911–1988)
Carl Whitaker (1912–1995)
Albert Ellis (1913–2007)
James Bugental (1915–2008)
Joseph Wolpe (1915–1997)
Virginia Satir (1916–1988)
Aaron T. Beck (b. 1921)
Salvador Minuchin (1921–2017)
Hans Herrman Strupp (1921–2006)
Paul Watzlawick (1921–2007)
Haim Ginott (1922–1973)
Arthur Janov (1924–2017)
Eugene Gendlin (1926–2017)
R. D. Laing (1927–1989)
Jean Baker Miller (1927–2006)
Otto F. Kernberg (b. 1928)
Irvin D. Yalom (b. 1931)
Arnold Lazarus (1932–2013)
Lorna Smith Benjamin (b. 1934)
Marsha M. Linehan (b. 1943)
Vittorio Guidano (1944–1999)
Les Greenberg (b. 1945)
William R. Miller (b. 1947)
Michael White (1948–2008)
Jeffrey Young (b. 1950)