What is Couples Therapy?

Introduction

Couples therapy (aka relationship counselling, couples’ counselling, marriage counselling, or marriage therapy) attempts to improve romantic relationships and resolve interpersonal conflicts.

Refer to Counselling Psychology.

Brief History

Marriage counselling originated in Germany in the 1920s as part of the eugenics movement. The first institutes for marriage counselling in the United States began in the 1930s, partly in response to Germany’s medically directed, racial purification marriage counselling centres. It was promoted by prominent American eugenicists such as Paul Popenoe, who directed the American Institute of Family Relations until 1976, and Robert Latou Dickinson and by birth control advocates such as Abraham and Hannah Stone who wrote A Marriage Manual in 1935 and were involved with Planned Parenthood. Other founders in the United States include Lena Levine and Margaret Sanger.

It was not until the 1950s that therapists began treating psychological problems in the context of the family. Relationship counselling as a discrete, professional service is thus a recent phenomenon. Until the late 20th century, the work of relationship counselling was informally fulfilled by close friends, family members, or local religious leaders. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and social workers have historically dealt primarily with individual psychological problems in a medical and psychoanalytic framework. In many less technologically advanced cultures around the world today, the institution of family, the village or group elders fulfil the work of relationship counselling. Today marriage mentoring mirrors those cultures.

With increasing modernisation or westernisation in many parts of the world and the continuous shift towards isolated nuclear families, the trend is towards trained and accredited relationship counsellors or couple therapists. Sometimes volunteers are trained by either the government or social service institutions to help those who are in need of family or marital counselling. Many communities and government departments have their own team of trained voluntary and professional relationship counsellors. Similar services are operated by many universities and colleges, sometimes staffed by volunteers from among the student peer group. Some large companies maintain a full-time professional counselling staff to facilitate smoother interactions between corporate employees, to minimise the negative effects that personal difficulties might have on work performance.

Increasingly there is a trend toward professional certification and government registration of these services. This is in part due to the presence of duty of care issues and the consequences of the counsellor or therapist’s services being provided in a fiduciary relationship.

Refer to alienation of affection (a common law tort, abolished in many jurisdictions. Where it still exists, it is an action brought by a spouse against a third party alleged to be responsible for damaging the marriage, most often resulting in divorce).

Basic Principles

It is estimated that nearly half of all married couples get divorced and about one in five marriages experience distress at some time. Challenges with affection, communication, disagreements and fears of divorce are some of the most common reasons couples reach out for help. Couples who are dissatisfied with their relationship may turn to a variety of sources for help including online courses, self-help books, retreats, workshops, and couples counselling.

Before a relationship between individuals can begin to be understood, it is important to recognise and acknowledge that each person, including the counsellor, has a unique personality, perception, set of values and history. Individuals in the relationship may adhere to different and unexamined value systems. Institutional and societal variables (like the social, religious, group and other collective factors) which shape a person’s nature and behaviour are considered in the process of counselling and therapy. A tenet of relationship counselling is that it is intrinsically beneficial for all the participants to interact with each other and with society at large with optimal amounts of conflict. A couple’s conflict resolution skills seem to predict divorce rates.

Most relationships will get strained at some time, resulting in a failure to function optimally and produce self-reinforcing, maladaptive patterns. These patterns may be called “negative interaction cycles.” There are many possible reasons for this, including insecure attachment, ego, arrogance, jealousy, anger, greed, poor communication/understanding or problem solving, ill health, third parties and so on.

Changes in situations like financial state, physical health, and the influence of other family members can have a profound influence on the conduct, responses and actions of the individuals in a relationship.

Often it is an interaction between two or more factors, and frequently it is not just one of the people who are involved that exhibit such traits. Relationship influences are reciprocal: it takes each person involved to make and manage problems.

A viable solution to the problem and setting these relationships back on track may be to reorient the individuals’ perceptions and emotions – how one looks at or responds to situations and feels about them. Perceptions of and emotional responses to a relationship are contained within an often unexamined mental map of the relationship, also called a love map by John Gottman. These can be explored collaboratively and discussed openly. The core values they comprise can then be understood and respected or changed when no longer appropriate. This implies that each person takes equal responsibility for awareness of the problem as it arises, awareness of their own contribution to the problem and making some fundamental changes in thought and feeling.

The next step is to adopt conscious, structural changes to the inter-personal relationships and evaluate the effectiveness of those changes over time.

Indeed, “typically for those close personal relations, there is a certain degree in ‘interdependence’ – which means that the partners are alternately mutually dependent on each other. As a special aspect of such relations, something contradictory is put outside: the need for intimacy and for autonomy.”

“The common counterbalancing satisfaction these both needs, intimacy and autonomy, leads to alternately satisfaction in the relationship and stability. But it depends on the specific developing duties of each partner in every life phase and maturity”.

Basic Practices

Two methods of couples therapy focus primarily on the process of communicating. The most commonly used method is active listening, used by the late Carl Rogers and Virginia Satir, and recommended by Harville Hendrix in Getting the Love You Want. More recently, a method called “Cinematic Immersion” has been developed by Warren Farrell in Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say. Each helps couples learn a method of communicating designed to create a safe environment for each partner to express and hear feelings.

When the Munich Marital Study discovered active listening to not be used in the long run, Warren Farrell observed that active listening did a better job creating a safe environment for the criticiser to criticise than for the listener to hear the criticism. The listener, often feeling overwhelmed by the criticism, tended to avoid future encounters. He hypothesized that we were biologically programmed to respond defensively to criticism, and therefore the listener needed to be trained in-depth with mental exercises and methods to interpret as love what might otherwise feel abusive. His method is Cinematic Immersion.

After 30 years of research into marriage, John Gottman has found that healthy couples almost never listen and echo each other’s feelings naturally. Whether miserable or radiantly happy, couples said what they thought about an issue, and “they got angry or sad, but their partner’s response was never anything like what we were training people to do in the listener/speaker exercise, not even close.”

Such exchanges occurred in less than 5 percent of marital interactions and they predicted nothing about whether the marriage would do well or badly. What’s more, Gottman noted, data from a 1984 Munich study demonstrated that the (reflective listening) exercise itself did not help couples to improve their marriages. To teach such interactions, whether as a daily tool for couples or as a therapeutic exercise in empathy, was a clinical dead end.

By contrast, emotionally focused therapy for couples (EFT-C) is based on attachment theory and uses emotion as the target and agent of change. Emotions bring the past alive in rigid interaction patterns, which create and reflect absorbing emotional states. As one of its founders, Sue Johnson (Hold Me Tight, 2018, p.6) says:

Forget about learning how to argue better, analysing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection.

Research on Therapy

The most researched approach to couples therapy is behavioural couples therapy. It is a well established treatment for marital discord. This form of therapy has evolved into what is now called integrative behavioural couples therapy. Integrative behavioural couples therapy appears to be effective for 69% of couples in treatment, while the traditional model was effective for 50-60% of couples. At five-year follow-up, the marital happiness of the 134 couples who had participated in either integrative behavioural couples therapy or traditional couples therapy showed that 14% of relationships remained unchanged, 38% deteriorated, and 48% improved or recovered completely.

A review conducted in 2018 by Cochrane (organisation) states that the available evidence does not suggest that couples therapy is more or less effective than individual therapy for treating depression.

Relationship Counsellor or Couple’s Therapist

Licensed couple therapist may refer to a psychiatrist, clinical social workers, counselling psychologists, clinical psychologists, pastoral counsellors, marriage and family therapists, and psychiatric nurses. The duty and function of a relationship counsellor or couples therapist is to listen, respect, understand and facilitate better functioning between those involved.

The basic principles for a counsellor include:

  • Provide a confidential dialogue, which normalises feelings.
  • To enable each person to be heard and to hear themselves.
  • Provide a mirror with expertise to reflect the relationship’s difficulties and the potential and direction for change.
  • Empower the relationship to take control of its own destiny and make vital decisions.
  • Deliver relevant and appropriate information.
  • Changes the view of the relationship.
  • Improve communication.
  • Set clear goals and objectives.

As well as the above, the basic principles for a couples therapist also include:

  • To identify the repetitive, negative interaction cycle as a pattern.
  • To understand the source of reactive emotions that drive the pattern.
  • To expand and re-organise key emotional responses in the relationship.
  • To facilitate a shift in partners’ interaction to new patterns of interaction.
  • To create new and positively bonding emotional events in the relationship.
  • To foster a secure attachment between partners.
  • To help maintain a sense of intimacy.

Common core principles of relationship counselling and couples therapy are:

  • Respect.
  • Empathy.
  • Tact.
  • Consent.
  • Confidentiality.
  • Accountability.
  • Expertise.
  • Evidence based.
  • Certification and ongoing training.

In both methods, the practitioner evaluates the couple’s personal and relationship story as it is narrated, interrupts wisely, facilitates both de-escalation of unhelpful conflict and the development of realistic, practical solutions. The practitioner may meet each person individually at first but only if this is beneficial to both, is consensual and is unlikely to cause harm. Individualistic approaches to couple problems can cause harm. The counsellor or therapist encourages the participants to give their best efforts to reorienting their relationship with each other. One of the challenges here is for each person to change their own responses to their partner’s behaviour. Other challenges to the process are disclosing controversial or shameful events and revealing closely guarded secrets. Not all couples put all of their cards on the table at first. This can take time.

Novel Practices

A novel development in the field of couples therapy has involved the introduction of insights gained from affective neuroscience and psychopharmacology into clinical practice.

Oxytocin

There has been interest in use of the so-called love hormone – oxytocin – during therapy sessions, although this is still largely experimental and somewhat controversial. Some researchers have argued oxytocin has a general enhancing effect on all social emotions, since intranasal administration of oxytocin also increases envy and Schadenfreude. Also, oxytocin has also the potential for being abused in confidence tricks.

Popularised Methodologies

Although results are almost certainly significantly better when professional guidance is utilised (see especially family therapy), numerous attempts at making the methodologies available generally via self-help books and other media are available. In the last few years, it has become increasingly popular for these self-help books to become popularised and published as an e-book available on the web, or through content articles on blogs and websites. The challenges for individuals utilising these methods are most commonly associated with that of other self-help therapies or self-diagnosis.

Using modern technologies such as Skype VoIP conferencing to interact with practitioners are also becoming increasingly popular for their added accessibility as well as discarding any existing geographic barriers. Entrusting in the performance and privacy of these technologies may pose concerns despite the convenient structure, especially compared to the comfort of in-person meetings.

With Homosexual/Bisexual Clients

Differing psychological theories play an important role in determining how effective relationship counselling is, especially when it concerns homosexual/bisexual clients. Some experts tout cognitive behavioural therapy as the tool of choice for intervention while many rely on acceptance and commitment therapy or cognitive analytic therapy. One major progress in this area is the fact that “marital therapy” is now referred to as “couples therapy” in order to include individuals who are not married or those who are engaged in same sex relationships. Most relationship issues are shared equally among couples regardless of sexual orientation, but LGBT clients additionally have to deal with heteronormativity, homophobia and both socio-cultural and legal discrimination. Individuals may experience relational ambiguity from being in different stages of the coming out process or having an HIV serodiscordant relationship. Often, same-sex couples do not have as many role models of successful relationships as opposite-sex couples. In many jurisdictions committed LGBT couples desiring a family are denied access to assisted reproduction, adoption and fostering, leaving them childless, feeling excluded, other and bereaved. There may be issues with gender-role socialization that do not affect opposite-sex couples.

A significant number of men and women experience conflict surrounding homosexual expression within a mixed-orientation marriage. Couple therapy may include helping the clients feel more comfortable and accepting of same-sex feelings and to explore ways of incorporating same-sex and opposite-sex feelings into life patterns. Although a strong homosexual identity was associated with difficulties in marital satisfaction, viewing the same-sex activities as compulsive facilitated commitment to the marriage and to monogamy.

What is Applied Psychology?

Introduction

Applied psychology is the use of psychological methods and findings of scientific psychology to solve practical problems of human and animal behaviour and experience.

Mental health, organisational psychology, business management, education, health, product design, ergonomics, and law are just a few of the areas that have been influenced by the application of psychological principles and findings. Some of the areas of applied psychology include clinical psychology, counselling psychology, evolutionary psychology, industrial and organisational psychology, legal psychology, neuropsychology, occupational health psychology, human factors, forensic psychology, engineering psychology, school psychology, sports psychology, traffic psychology, community psychology, and medical psychology. In addition, a number of specialised areas in the general field of psychology have applied branches (e.g. applied social psychology, applied cognitive psychology). However, the lines between sub-branch specialisations and major applied psychology categories are often blurred. For example, a human factors psychologist might use a cognitive psychology theory. This could be described as human factor psychology or as applied cognitive psychology.

Brief History

The founder of applied psychology was Hugo Münsterberg. He came to America (Harvard) from Germany (Berlin, Laboratory of Stern), invited by William James, and, like many aspiring psychologists during the late 19th century, originally studied philosophy. Münsterberg had many interests in the field of psychology such as purposive psychology, social psychology and forensic psychology. In 1907 he wrote several magazine articles concerning legal aspects of testimony, confessions and courtroom procedures, which eventually developed into his book, On the Witness Stand. The following year the Division of Applied Psychology was adjoined to the Harvard Psychological Laboratory. Within 9 years he had contributed eight books in English, applying psychology to education, industrial efficiency, business and teaching. Eventually Hugo Münsterberg and his contributions would define him as the creator of applied psychology. In 1920, the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) was founded, as the first international scholarly society within the field of psychology.

Most professional psychologists in the US worked in an academic setting until World War II. But during the war, the armed forces and the Office of Strategic Services hired psychologists in droves to work on issues such as troop morale and propaganda design. After the war, psychologists found an expanding range of jobs outside of the academy. Since 1970, the number of college graduates with degrees in psychology has more than doubled, from 33,679 to 76,671 in 2002. The annual numbers of masters’ and PhD degrees have also increased dramatically over the same period. All the while, degrees in the related fields of economics, sociology, and political science have remained constant.

Professional organisations have organised special events and meetings to promote the idea of applied psychology. In 1990, the American Psychological Society held a Behavioural Science Summit and formed the “Human Capital Initiative”, spanning schools, workplace productivity, drugs, violence, and community health. The American Psychological Association declared 2000-2010 the Decade of Behaviour, with a similarly broad scope. Psychological methods are considered applicable to all aspects of human life and society.

Advertising

Business advertisers have long consulted psychologists in assessing what types of messages will most effectively induce a person to buy a particular product. Using the psychological research methods and the findings in human’s cognition, motivation, attitudes and decision making, those can help to design more persuasive advertisement. Their research includes the study of unconscious influences and brand loyalty. However, the effect of unconscious influences was controversial.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology includes the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists may also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and programme development and administration. Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury – this area is known as clinical neuropsychology. In many countries clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.

The work performed by clinical psychologists tends to be done inside various therapy models, all of which involve a formal relationship between professional and client – usually an individual, couple, family, or small group – that employs a set of procedures intended to form a therapeutic alliance, explore the nature of psychological problems, and encourage new ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving. The four major perspectives are psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural, existential-humanistic, and systems or family therapy. There has been a growing movement to integrate these various therapeutic approaches, especially with an increased understanding of issues regarding ethnicity, gender, spirituality, and sexual-orientation. With the advent of more robust research findings regarding psychotherapy, there is growing evidence that most of the major therapies are about of equal effectiveness, with the key common element being a strong therapeutic alliance. Because of this, more training programmes and psychologists are now adopting an eclectic therapeutic orientation.

Clinical psychologists do not usually prescribe medication, although there is a growing number of psychologists who do have prescribing privileges, in the field of medical psychology. In general, however, when medication is warranted many psychologists will work in cooperation with psychiatrists so that clients get therapeutic needs met. Clinical psychologists may also work as part of a team with other professionals, such as social workers and nutritionists.

Counselling Psychology

Counselling psychology is an applied specialisation within psychology, that involves both research and practice in a number of different areas or domains. According to Gelso and Fretz (2001), there are some central unifying themes among counselling psychologists. These include a focus on an individual’s strengths, relationships, their educational and career development, as well as a focus on normal personalities. Counselling psychologists help people improve their well-being, reduce and manage stress, and improve overall functioning in their lives. The interventions used by Counselling Psychologists may be either brief or long-term in duration. Often they are problem focused and goal-directed. There is a guiding philosophy which places a value on individual differences and an emphasis on “prevention, development, and adjustment across the life-span.”

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology is devoted to the study of how humans learn in educational settings, especially schools. Psychologists assess the effects of specific educational interventions: e.g. phonics versus whole language instruction in early reading attainment. They also study the question of why learning occurs differently in different situations.

Another domain of educational psychology is the psychology of teaching. In some colleges, educational psychology courses are called “the psychology of learning and teaching”. Educational psychology derives a great deal from basic-science disciplines within psychology including cognitive science and behaviourally-oriented research on learning.

Environmental Psychology

Environmental psychology is the psychological study of humans and their interactions with their environments. The types of environments studied are limitless, ranging from homes, offices, classrooms, factories, nature, and so on. However, across these different environments, there are several common themes of study that emerge within each one. Noise level and ambient temperature are clearly present in all environments and often subjects of discussion for environmental psychologists. Crowding and stressors are a few other aspects of environments studied by this sub-discipline of psychology. When examining a particular environment, environmental psychology looks at the goals and purposes of the people in the using the environment, and tries to determine how well the environment is suiting the needs of the people using it. For example, a quiet environment is necessary for a classroom of students taking a test, but would not be needed or expected on a farm full of animals. The concepts and trends learned through environmental psychology can be used when setting up or rearranging spaces so that the space will best perform its intended function. The top common, more well known areas of psychology that drive this applied field include: cognitive, perception, learning, and social psychology.

Forensic Psychology and Legal Psychology

Forensic psychology and legal psychology are the areas concerned with the application of psychological methods and principles to legal questions and issues. Most typically, forensic psychology involves a clinical analysis of a particular individual and an assessment of some specific psycho-legal question. The psycho-legal question does not have to be criminal in nature. In fact, the forensic psychologist rarely gets involved in the actual criminal investigations. Custody cases are a great example of non-criminal evaluations by forensic psychologists. The validity and upholding of eyewitness testimony is an area of forensic psychology that does veer closer to criminal investigations, though does not directly involve the psychologist in the investigation process. Psychologists are often called to testify as expert witnesses on issues such as the accuracy of memory, the reliability of police interrogation, and the appropriate course of action in child custody cases.

Legal psychology refers to any application of psychological principles, methods or understanding to legal questions or issues. In addition to the applied practices, legal psychology also includes academic or empirical research on topics involving the relationship of law to human mental processes and behaviour. However, inherent differences that arise when placing psychology in the legal context. Psychology rarely makes absolute statements. Instead, psychologists traffic in the terms like level of confidence, percentages, and significance. Legal matters, on the other hand, look for absolutes: guilty or not guilty. This makes for a sticky union between psychology and the legal system. Some universities operate dual JD/PhD programmes focusing on the intersection of these two areas.

The Committee on Legal Issues of the American Psychological Association is known to file amicus curae briefs, as applications of psychological knowledge to high-profile court cases.

A related field, police psychology, involves consultation with police departments and participation in police training.

Health and Medicine

Health psychology concerns itself with understanding how biology, behaviour, and social context influence health and illness. Health psychologists generally work alongside other medical professionals in clinical settings, although many also teach and conduct research. Although its early beginnings can be traced to the kindred field of clinical psychology, four different approaches to health psychology have been defined: clinical, public health, community and critical health psychology.

Health psychologists aim to change health behaviours for the dual purpose of helping people stay healthy and helping patients adhere to disease treatment regimens. The focus of health psychologists tend to centre on the health crisis facing the western world particularly in the US, cognitive behavioural therapy and behaviour modification are techniques often employed by health psychologists. Psychologists also study patients’ compliance with their doctors’ orders.

Health psychologists view a person’s mental condition as heavily related to their physical condition. An important concept in this field is stress, a mental phenomenon with well-known consequences for physical health.

Medical

Medical psychology involves the application of a range of psychological principles, theories and findings applied to the effective management of physical and mental disorders to improve the psychological and physical health of the patient. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines medical psychology as the branch of psychology that integrates somatic and psychotherapeutic modalities, into the management of mental illness, health rehabilitation and emotional, cognitive, behavioural and substance use disorders. According to Muse and Moore (2012), the medical psychologist’s contributions in the areas of psychopharmacology which sets it apart from other of psychotherapy and psychotherapists.

Occupational Health Psychology

Occupational health psychology (OHP) is a relatively new discipline that emerged from the confluence of health psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, and occupational health. OHP has its own journals and professional organisations. The field is concerned with identifying psychosocial characteristics of workplaces that give rise to health-related problems in people who work. These problems can involve physical health (e.g. cardiovascular disease) or mental health (e.g. depression). Examples of psychosocial characteristics of workplaces that OHP has investigated include amount of decision latitude a worker can exercise and the supportiveness of supervisors. OHP is also concerned with the development and implementation of interventions that can prevent or ameliorate work-related health problems. In addition, OHP research has important implications for the economic success of organisations. Other research areas of concern to OHP include workplace incivility and violence, work-home carryover, unemployment and downsizing, and workplace safety and accident prevention. Two important OHP journals are the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology and Work & Stress. Three important organisations closely associated with OHP are the International Commission on Occupational Health’s Scientific Committee on Work Organisation and Psychosocial Factors (ICOH-WOPS), the Society for Occupational Health Psychology, and the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology.

Human Factors and Ergonomics

Human factors and ergonomics (HF&E) is the study of how cognitive and psychological processes affect our interaction with tools, machines, and objects in the environment. Many branches of psychology attempt to create models of and understand human behaviour. These models are usually based on data collected from experiments. Human Factor psychologists however, take the same data and use it to design or adapt processes and objects that will complement the human component of the equation. Rather than humans learning how to use and manipulate a piece of technology, human factors strives to design technology to be inline with the human behaviour models designed by general psychology. This could be accounting for physical limitations of humans, as in ergonomics, or designing systems, especially computer systems, that work intuitively with humans, as does engineering psychology.

Ergonomics is applied primarily through office work and the transportation industry. Psychologists here take into account the physical limitations of the human body and attempt to reduce fatigue and stress by designing products and systems that work within the natural limitations of the human body. From simple things like the size of buttons and design of office chairs to layout of airplane cockpits, human factor psychologists, specialising in ergonomics, attempt to de-stress our everyday lives and sometimes even save them.

Human factor psychologists specialising in engineering psychology tend to take on slightly different projects than their ergonomic centred counterparts. These psychologists look at how a human and a process interact. Often engineering psychology may be centred on computers. However at the base level, a process is simply a series of inputs and outputs between a human and a machine. The human must have a clear method to input data and be able to easily access the information in output. The inability of rapid and accurate corrections can sometimes lead to drastic consequences, as summed up by many stories in Set Phasers on Stun. The engineering psychologists wants to make the process of inputs and outputs as intuitive as possible for the user.

The goal of research in human factors is to understand the limitations and biases of human mental processes and behaviour, and design items and systems that will interact accordingly with the limitations. Some may see human factors as intuitive or a list of dos and don’ts, but in reality, human factor research strives to make sense of large piles of data to bring precise applications to product designs and systems to help people work more naturally, intuitively with the items of their surroundings.

Industrial and Organisational Psychology

Industrial and organisational psychology, or I-O psychology, focuses on the psychology of work. Relevant topics within I-O psychology include the psychology of recruitment, selecting employees from an applicant pool, training, performance appraisal, job satisfaction, work motivation. work behaviour, occupational stress, accident prevention, occupational safety and health, management, retirement planning and unemployment among many other issues related to the workplace and people’s work lives. In short, I-O psychology is the application of psychology to the workplace. One aspect of this field is job analysis, the detailed study of which behaviours a given job entails.

Though the name of the title “Industrial Organisational Psychology” implies 2 split disciplines being chained together, it is near impossible to have one half without the other. If asked to generally define the differences, Industrial psychology focuses more on the Human Resources aspects of the field, and Organisational psychology focuses more on the personal interactions of the employees. When applying these principles however, they are not easily broken apart. For example, when developing requirements for a new job position, the recruiters are looking for an applicant with strong communication skills in multiple areas. The developing of the position requirements falls under the industrial psychology, human resource type work. and the requirement of communication skills is related to how the employee with interacts with co-workers. As seen here, it is hard to separate task of developing a qualifications list from the types of qualifications on the list. This is parallel to how the I and O are nearly inseparable in practice. Therefore, I-O psychologists are generally rounded in both industrial and organisational psychology though they will have some specialisation. Other topics of interest for I-O psychologists include performance evaluation, training, and much more.

Military psychology includes research into the classification, training, and performance of soldiers.

School Psychology

School psychology is a field that applies principles of clinical psychology and educational psychology to the diagnosis and treatment of students’ behavioural and learning problems. School psychologists are educated in child and adolescent development, learning theories, psychological and psycho-educational assessment, personality theories, therapeutic interventions, special education, psychology, consultation, child and adolescent psychopathology, and the ethical, legal and administrative codes of their profession.

According to Division 16 (Division of School Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), school psychologists operate according to a scientific framework. They work to promote effectiveness and efficiency in the field. School psychologists conduct psychological assessments, provide brief interventions, and develop or help develop prevention programmes. Additionally, they evaluate services with special focus on developmental processes of children within the school system, and other systems, such as families. School psychologists consult with teachers, parents, and school personnel about learning, behavioural, social, and emotional problems. They may teach lessons on parenting skills (like school counsellors), learning strategies, and other skills related to school mental health. In addition, they explain test results to parents and students. They provide individual, group, and in some cases family counselling. School psychologists are actively involved in district and school crisis intervention teams. They also supervise graduate students in school psychology. School psychologists in many districts provide professional development to teachers and other school personnel on topics such as positive behaviour intervention plans and achievement tests.

One salient application for school psychology in today’s world is responding to the unique challenges of increasingly multicultural classrooms. For example, psychologists can contribute insight about the differences between individualistic and collectivistic cultures.

School psychologists are influential within the school system and are frequently consulted to solve problems. Practitioners should be able to provide consultation and collaborate with other members of the educational community and confidently make decisions based on empirical research.

Social Change

Psychologists have been employed to promote “green” behaviour, i.e. sustainable development. In this case, their goal is behaviour modification, through strategies such as social marketing. Tactics include education, disseminating information, organising social movements, passing laws, and altering taxes to influence decisions.

Psychology has been applied on a world scale with the aim of population control. For example, one strategy towards television programming combines social models in a soap opera with informational messages during advertising time. This strategy successfully increased women’s enrolment at family planning clinics in Mexico. The programming – which has been deployed around the world by Population Communications International and the Population Media Centre – combines family planning messages with representations of female education and literacy.

Sport Psychology

Sport psychology is a specialisation within psychology that seeks to understand psychological/mental factors that affect performance in sports, physical activity and exercise and apply these to enhance individual and team performance. The sport psychology approach differs from the coaches and players perspective. Coaches tend to narrow their focus and energy towards the end-goal. They are concerned with the actions that lead to the win, as opposed to the sport psychologist who tries to focus the players thoughts on just achieving the win. Sport psychology trains players mentally to prepare them, whereas coaches tend to focus mostly on physical training. Sport psychology deals with increasing performance by managing emotions and minimizing the psychological effects of injury and poor performance. Some of the most important skills taught are goal setting, relaxation, visualization, self-talk awareness and control, concentration, using rituals, attribution training, and periodisation. The principles and theories may be applied to any human movement or performance tasks (e.g. playing a musical instrument, acting in a play, public speaking, motor skills). Usually, experts recommend that students be trained in both kinesiology (i.e. sport and exercise sciences, physical education) and counselling.

Traffic Psychology

Traffic psychology is an applied discipline within psychology that looks at the relationship between psychological processes and cognitions and the actual behaviour of road users. In general, traffic psychologists attempt to apply these principles and research findings, in order to provide solutions to problems such as traffic mobility and congestion, road accidents, speeding. Research psychologists also are involved with the education and the motivation of road users.

What is Applied Psychology?

Introduction

Applied psychology is the use of psychological methods and findings of scientific psychology to solve practical problems of human and animal behaviour and experience.

Mental health, organisational psychology, business management, education, health, product design, ergonomics, and law are just a few of the areas that have been influenced by the application of psychological principles and findings. Some of the areas of applied psychology include clinical psychology, counselling psychology, evolutionary psychology, industrial and organisational psychology, legal psychology, neuropsychology, occupational health psychology, human factors, forensic psychology, engineering psychology, school psychology, sports psychology, traffic psychology, community psychology, and medical psychology. In addition, a number of specialised areas in the general field of psychology have applied branches (e.g. applied social psychology, applied cognitive psychology).

However, the lines between sub-branch specialisations and major applied psychology categories are often blurred. For example, a human factors psychologist might use a cognitive psychology theory. This could be described as human factor psychology or as applied cognitive psychology.

Brief History

The founder of applied psychology was Hugo Münsterberg. He came to America (Harvard) from Germany (Berlin, Laboratory of Stern), invited by William James, and, like many aspiring psychologists during the late 19th century, originally studied philosophy. Münsterberg had many interests in the field of psychology such as purposive psychology, social psychology and forensic psychology. In 1907 he wrote several magazine articles concerning legal aspects of testimony, confessions and courtroom procedures, which eventually developed into his book, On the Witness Stand. The following year the Division of Applied Psychology was adjoined to the Harvard Psychological Laboratory. Within 9 years he had contributed eight books in English, applying psychology to education, industrial efficiency, business and teaching. Eventually Hugo Münsterberg and his contributions would define him as the creator of applied psychology. In 1920, the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) was founded, as the first international scholarly society within the field of psychology.

Most professional psychologists in the US worked in an academic setting until World War II. But during the war, the armed forces and the Office of Strategic Services hired psychologists in droves to work on issues such as troop morale and propaganda design. After the war, psychologists found an expanding range of jobs outside of the academy. Since 1970, the number of college graduates with degrees in psychology has more than doubled, from 33,679 to 76,671 in 2002. The annual numbers of masters’ and PhD degrees have also increased dramatically over the same period. All the while, degrees in the related fields of economics, sociology, and political science have remained constant.

Professional organisations have organised special events and meetings to promote the idea of applied psychology. In 1990, the American Psychological Society held a Behavioural Science Summit and formed the “Human Capital Initiative”, spanning schools, workplace productivity, drugs, violence, and community health. The American Psychological Association declared 2000-2010 the Decade of Behaviour, with a similarly broad scope. Psychological methods are considered applicable to all aspects of human life and society.

Advertising

Business advertisers have long consulted psychologists in assessing what types of messages will most effectively induce a person to buy a particular product. Using the psychological research methods and the findings in human’s cognition, motivation, attitudes and decision making, those can help to design more persuasive advertisement. Their research includes the study of unconscious influences and brand loyalty. However, the effect of unconscious influences was controversial.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology includes the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists may also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration. Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury – this area is known as clinical neuropsychology. In many countries clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.

The work performed by clinical psychologists tends to be done inside various therapy models, all of which involve a formal relationship between professional and client – usually an individual, couple, family, or small group – that employs a set of procedures intended to form a therapeutic alliance, explore the nature of psychological problems, and encourage new ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving. The four major perspectives are:

  1. Psychodynamic;
  2. Cognitive behavioural;
  3. Existential-humanistic; and
  4. Systems or family therapy.

There has been a growing movement to integrate these various therapeutic approaches, especially with an increased understanding of issues regarding ethnicity, gender, spirituality, and sexual-orientation. With the advent of more robust research findings regarding psychotherapy, there is growing evidence that most of the major therapies are about of equal effectiveness, with the key common element being a strong therapeutic alliance. Because of this, more training programmes and psychologists are now adopting an eclectic therapeutic orientation.

Clinical psychologists do not usually prescribe medication, although there is a growing number of psychologists who do have prescribing privileges, in the field of medical psychology. In general, however, when medication is warranted many psychologists will work in cooperation with psychiatrists so that clients get therapeutic needs met. Clinical psychologists may also work as part of a team with other professionals, such as social workers and nutritionists.

Counselling Psychology

Counselling psychology is an applied specialisation within psychology, that involves both research and practice in a number of different areas or domains. According to Gelso and Fretz (2001), there are some central unifying themes among counselling psychologists. These include a focus on an individual’s strengths, relationships, their educational and career development, as well as a focus on normal personalities. Counselling psychologists help people improve their well-being, reduce and manage stress, and improve overall functioning in their lives. The interventions used by Counselling Psychologists may be either brief or long-term in duration. Often they are problem focused and goal-directed. There is a guiding philosophy which places a value on individual differences and an emphasis on “prevention, development, and adjustment across the life-span.”

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology is devoted to the study of how humans learn in educational settings, especially schools. Psychologists assess the effects of specific educational interventions: e.g. phonics versus whole language instruction in early reading attainment. They also study the question of why learning occurs differently in different situations.

Another domain of educational psychology is the psychology of teaching. In some colleges, educational psychology courses are called “the psychology of learning and teaching”. Educational psychology derives a great deal from basic-science disciplines within psychology including cognitive science and behaviourally-oriented research on learning.

Environmental Psychology

Environmental psychology is the psychological study of humans and their interactions with their environments. The types of environments studied are limitless, ranging from homes, offices, classrooms, factories, nature, and so on. However, across these different environments, there are several common themes of study that emerge within each one. Noise level and ambient temperature are clearly present in all environments and often subjects of discussion for environmental psychologists. Crowding and stressors are a few other aspects of environments studied by this sub-discipline of psychology. When examining a particular environment, environmental psychology looks at the goals and purposes of the people in the using the environment, and tries to determine how well the environment is suiting the needs of the people using it. For example, a quiet environment is necessary for a classroom of students taking a test, but would not be needed or expected on a farm full of animals. The concepts and trends learned through environmental psychology can be used when setting up or rearranging spaces so that the space will best perform its intended function. The top common, more well known areas of psychology that drive this applied field include: cognitive, perception, learning, and social psychology.

Forensic Psychology and Legal Psychology

Forensic psychology and legal psychology are the areas concerned with the application of psychological methods and principles to legal questions and issues. Most typically, forensic psychology involves a clinical analysis of a particular individual and an assessment of some specific psycho-legal question. The psycho-legal question does not have to be criminal in nature. In fact, the forensic psychologist rarely gets involved in the actual criminal investigations. Custody cases are a great example of non-criminal evaluations by forensic psychologists. The validity and upholding of eyewitness testimony is an area of forensic psychology that does veer closer to criminal investigations, though does not directly involve the psychologist in the investigation process. Psychologists are often called to testify as expert witnesses on issues such as the accuracy of memory, the reliability of police interrogation, and the appropriate course of action in child custody cases.

Legal psychology refers to any application of psychological principles, methods or understanding to legal questions or issues. In addition to the applied practices, legal psychology also includes academic or empirical research on topics involving the relationship of law to human mental processes and behaviour. However, inherent differences that arise when placing psychology in the legal context. Psychology rarely makes absolute statements. Instead, psychologists traffic in the terms like level of confidence, percentages, and significance. Legal matters, on the other hand, look for absolutes: guilty or not guilty. This makes for a sticky union between psychology and the legal system. Some universities operate dual JD/PhD programmes focusing on the intersection of these two areas.

The Committee on Legal Issues of the American Psychological Association is known to file amicus curae briefs (someone who is not a party to a case who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case), as applications of psychological knowledge to high-profile court cases.

A related field, police psychology, involves consultation with police departments and participation in police training.

Health and Medicine

Health psychology concerns itself with understanding how biology, behaviour, and social context influence health and illness. Health psychologists generally work alongside other medical professionals in clinical settings, although many also teach and conduct research. Although its early beginnings can be traced to the kindred field of clinical psychology, four different approaches to health psychology have been defined: clinical, public health, community and critical health psychology.

Health psychologists aim to change health behaviours for the dual purpose of helping people stay healthy and helping patients adhere to disease treatment regimens. The focus of health psychologists tend to centre on the health crisis facing the western world particularly in the US. Cognitive behavioural therapy and behaviour modification are techniques often employed by health psychologists. Psychologists also study patients’ compliance with their doctors’ orders.

Health psychologists view a person’s mental condition as heavily related to their physical condition. An important concept in this field is stress, a mental phenomenon with well-known consequences for physical health.

Medical

Medical psychology involves the application of a range of psychological principles, theories and findings applied to the effective management of physical and mental disorders to improve the psychological and physical health of the patient. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines medical psychology as the branch of psychology that integrates somatic and psychotherapeutic modalities, into the management of mental illness, health rehabilitation and emotional, cognitive, behavioural and substance use disorders. According to Muse and Moore (2012), the medical psychologist’s contributions in the areas of psychopharmacology which sets it apart from other of psychotherapy and psychotherapists.

Occupational Health Psychology

Occupational health psychology (OHP) is a relatively new discipline that emerged from the confluence of health psychology, industrial and organisational psychology, and occupational health. OHP has its own journals and professional organisations. The field is concerned with identifying psychosocial characteristics of workplaces that give rise to health-related problems in people who work. These problems can involve physical health (e.g., cardiovascular disease) or mental health (e.g. depression). Examples of psychosocial characteristics of workplaces that OHP has investigated include amount of decision latitude a worker can exercise and the supportiveness of supervisors. OHP is also concerned with the development and implementation of interventions that can prevent or ameliorate work-related health problems. In addition, OHP research has important implications for the economic success of organisations. Other research areas of concern to OHP include workplace incivility and violence, work-home carryover, unemployment and downsizing, and workplace safety and accident prevention. Two important OHP journals are the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology and Work & Stress. Three important organisations closely associated with OHP are the International Commission on Occupational Health’s Scientific Committee on Work Organisation and Psychosocial Factors (ICOH-WOPS), the Society for Occupational Health Psychology, and the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology.

Human Factors and Ergonomics

Human factors and ergonomics (HF&E) is the study of how cognitive and psychological processes affect our interaction with tools, machines, and objects in the environment. Many branches of psychology attempt to create models of and understand human behaviour. These models are usually based on data collected from experiments. Human Factor psychologists however, take the same data and use it to design or adapt processes and objects that will complement the human component of the equation. Rather than humans learning how to use and manipulate a piece of technology, human factors strives to design technology to be inline with the human behaviour models designed by general psychology. This could be accounting for physical limitations of humans, as in ergonomics, or designing systems, especially computer systems, that work intuitively with humans, as does engineering psychology.

Ergonomics is applied primarily through office work and the transportation industry. Psychologists here take into account the physical limitations of the human body and attempt to reduce fatigue and stress by designing products and systems that work within the natural limitations of the human body. From simple things like the size of buttons and design of office chairs to layout of airplane cockpits, human factor psychologists, specializing in ergonomics, attempt to de-stress our everyday lives and sometimes even save them.

Human factor psychologists specialising in engineering psychology tend to take on slightly different projects than their ergonomic centred counterparts. These psychologists look at how a human and a process interact. Often engineering psychology may be centred on computers. However at the base level, a process is simply a series of inputs and outputs between a human and a machine. The human must have a clear method to input data and be able to easily access the information in output. The inability of rapid and accurate corrections can sometimes lead to drastic consequences, as summed up by many stories in Set Phasers on Stun. The engineering psychologists wants to make the process of inputs and outputs as intuitive as possible for the user.

The goal of research in human factors is to understand the limitations and biases of human mental processes and behaviour, and design items and systems that will interact accordingly with the limitations. Some may see human factors as intuitive or a list of dos and don’ts, but in reality, human factor research strives to make sense of large piles of data to bring precise applications to product designs and systems to help people work more naturally, intuitively with the items of their surroundings.

Industrial and Organisational Psychology

Industrial and organisational psychology, or I-O psychology, focuses on the psychology of work. Relevant topics within I-O psychology include the psychology of recruitment, selecting employees from an applicant pool, training, performance appraisal, job satisfaction, work motivation. work behaviour, occupational stress, accident prevention, occupational safety and health, management, retirement planning and unemployment among many other issues related to the workplace and people’s work lives. In short, I-O psychology is the application of psychology to the workplace. One aspect of this field is job analysis, the detailed study of which behaviours a given job entails.

Though the name of the title “Industrial Organisational Psychology” implies 2 split disciplines being chained together, it is near impossible to have one half without the other. If asked to generally define the differences, Industrial psychology focuses more on the Human Resources aspects of the field, and organisational psychology focuses more on the personal interactions of the employees. When applying these principles however, they are not easily broken apart. For example, when developing requirements for a new job position, the recruiters are looking for an applicant with strong communication skills in multiple areas. The developing of the position requirements falls under the industrial psychology, human resource type work. and the requirement of communication skills is related to how the employee with interacts with co-workers. As seen here, it is hard to separate task of developing a qualifications list from the types of qualifications on the list. This is parallel to how the I and O are nearly inseparable in practice. Therefore, I-O psychologists are generally rounded in both industrial and organisational psychology though they will have some specialisation. Other topics of interest for I-O psychologists include performance evaluation, training, and much more.

Military psychology includes research into the classification, training, and performance of soldiers

School Psychology

School psychology is a field that applies principles of clinical psychology and educational psychology to the diagnosis and treatment of students’ behavioural and learning problems. School psychologists are educated in child and adolescent development, learning theories, psychological and psycho-educational assessment, personality theories, therapeutic interventions, special education, psychology, consultation, child and adolescent psychopathology, and the ethical, legal and administrative codes of their profession.

According to Division 16 (Division of School Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), school psychologists operate according to a scientific framework. They work to promote effectiveness and efficiency in the field. School psychologists conduct psychological assessments, provide brief interventions, and develop or help develop prevention programmes. Additionally, they evaluate services with special focus on developmental processes of children within the school system, and other systems, such as families. School psychologists consult with teachers, parents, and school personnel about learning, behavioural, social, and emotional problems. They may teach lessons on parenting skills (like school counsellors), learning strategies, and other skills related to school mental health. In addition, they explain test results to parents and students. They provide individual, group, and in some cases family counselling. School psychologists are actively involved in district and school crisis intervention teams. They also supervise graduate students in school psychology. School psychologists in many districts provide professional development to teachers and other school personnel on topics such as positive behaviour intervention plans and achievement tests.

One salient application for school psychology in today’s world is responding to the unique challenges of increasingly multicultural classrooms. For example, psychologists can contribute insight about the differences between individualistic and collectivistic cultures.

School psychologists are influential within the school system and are frequently consulted to solve problems. Practitioners should be able to provide consultation and collaborate with other members of the educational community and confidently make decisions based on empirical research.

Social Change

Psychologists have been employed to promote “green” behaviour, i.e. sustainable development. In this case, their goal is behaviour modification, through strategies such as social marketing. Tactics include education, disseminating information, organising social movements, passing laws, and altering taxes to influence decisions.

Psychology has been applied on a world scale with the aim of population control. For example, one strategy towards television programming combines social models in a soap opera with informational messages during advertising time. This strategy successfully increased women’s enrolment at family planning clinics in Mexico. The programming – which has been deployed around the world by Population Communications International and the Population Media Centre – combines family planning messages with representations of female education and literacy.

Sport Psychology

Sport psychology is a specialisation within psychology that seeks to understand psychological/mental factors that affect performance in sports, physical activity and exercise and apply these to enhance individual and team performance. The sport psychology approach differs from the coaches and players perspective. Coaches tend to narrow their focus and energy towards the end-goal. They are concerned with the actions that lead to the win, as opposed to the sport psychologist who tries to focus the players thoughts on just achieving the win. Sport psychology trains players mentally to prepare them, whereas coaches tend to focus mostly on physical training. Sport psychology deals with increasing performance by managing emotions and minimising the psychological effects of injury and poor performance. Some of the most important skills taught are goal setting, relaxation, visualisation, self-talk awareness and control, concentration, using rituals, attribution training, and periodisation. The principles and theories may be applied to any human movement or performance tasks (e.g. playing a musical instrument, acting in a play, public speaking, motor skills). Usually, experts recommend that students be trained in both kinesiology (i.e. sport and exercise sciences, physical education) and counselling.

Traffic Psychology

Traffic psychology is an applied discipline within psychology that looks at the relationship between psychological processes and cognitions and the actual behaviour of road users. In general, traffic psychologists attempt to apply these principles and research findings, in order to provide solutions to problems such as traffic mobility and congestion, road accidents, speeding. Research psychologists also are involved with the education and the motivation of road users.

Book: Principles and Practice of Grief Counselling

Book Title:

Principles and Practice of Grief Counselling.

Author(s): Darcy L. Harris and Howard R. Winokuer.

Year: 2019.

Edition: Third (3rd).

Publisher: Springer Publishing Company.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

This core introductory text, with a focus on clinical application, combines the knowledge and skills of counselling psychology with current theory and research in grief and bereavement. The third edition is updated to address issues related to the developmental aspects of grief, including grief in children and young people, grief as a lifespan concept, and grief in an increasingly aging demographic. It describes new therapeutic approaches and examines the neurological basis of grief as well as trauma from disruption and loss.

Also emphasized is the role of diversity, along with cultural considerations in grief counselling. Instructor’s resources include a Test Bank, Instructor’s Manual, and PowerPoint slides. User-friendly, while grounded in the latest research and theoretical constructs, the text offers such pedagogical aids as learning objectives, practice examples, glossary terms, and questions for reflection in each chapter. Above all, the book addresses grief counselling and support in a way that is informed and practical. The content explores concepts relevant to complicated grief, while differentiating the normal human experience of grief from mental disorders. Purchase includes digital access for use on mobile devices and computers.

What is Counselling Psychology?

Introduction

Counselling psychology is a psychological specialty that encompasses research and applied work in several broad domains: counselling process and outcome; supervision and training; career development and counselling; and prevention and health. Some unifying themes among counselling psychologists include a focus on assets and strengths, person-environment interactions, educational and career development, brief interactions, and a focus on intact personalities.

Brief History

The term “counselling” is of American origin, coined by Carl Rogers, who, lacking a medical qualification was prevented from calling his work psychotherapy. In the US, counselling psychology, like many modern psychology specialties, started as a result of World War II. During the war, the US military had a strong need for vocational placement and training. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Veterans Administration created a specialty called “counselling psychology”, and Division 17 (now known as the Society for Counselling Psychology) of the APA was formed. The Society of Counselling Psychology unites 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 counsellor training, and the creation of the first few counselling psychology PhD programmes. The first counselling psychology PhD programmes 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, counselling 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 Counselling and Psychotherapy in an International Context; the International Handbook of Cross-Cultural Counselling; and Counselling Around the World: An International Handbook. Taken together these volumes trace the global history of the field, explore divergent philosophical assumptions, counselling theories, processes, and trends in different countries, and review a variety of global counsellor education programmes. Moreover, traditional and indigenous treatment and healing methods that may predate modern counselling methods by hundreds of years remain of significance in many non-Western and Western countries.

Employment and Salary

Counselling 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 counselling, psychotherapy, assessment, and consultation services to individuals, couples/families, groups, and organisations. Additional settings in which counselling psychologists practice include community mental health centres, Veterans Administration medical centres and other facilities, family services, health maintenance organisations, rehabilitation agencies, business and industrial organisations 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 5-6 years of further study and/or training, leading to the Ph.D. While both psychologists and psychiatrists offer counselling, psychiatrists must possess a medical degree and thus are able to prescribe medication where psychologists are not.

Process and Outcome

Counselling psychologists are interested in answering a variety of research questions about counselling process and outcome. Counselling process refers to how or why counselling happens and progresses. Counselling outcome addresses whether or not counselling is effective, under what conditions it is effective, and what outcomes are considered effective – such as symptom reduction, behaviour change, or quality of life improvement. Topics commonly explored in the study of counselling process and outcome include therapist variables, client variables, the counselling 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 counselling interview as “to permit deeper expression that the client would ordinarily allow himself”

Therapist Variables

Therapist variables include characteristics of a counsellor or psychotherapist, as well as therapist technique, behaviour, theoretical orientation and training. In terms of therapist behaviour, 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 judgement, 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 successful training.

Client Variables

Client characteristics such as help-seeking attitudes and attachment style have been found to be related to client use of counselling, 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 counselling, 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 counselling, 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 counselling. Educating clients about expectations of counselling can improve client satisfaction, treatment duration and outcomes, and is an efficient and cost-effective intervention.

Counselling Relationship

The relationship between a counsellor 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 they lack trust in their parent (projecting these feelings of distrust onto the therapist).

Another theory about the function of the counselling relationship is known as the secure-base hypothesis, which is related to attachment theory. This hypothesis proposes that the counsellor acts as a secure base from which clients can explore and then check in with. Secure attachment to one’s counsellor 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.

Cultural Variables

Counselling psychologists are interested in how culture relates to help-seeking and counselling process and outcome. Standard surveys exploring the nature of counselling across cultures and various ethnic groups include Counselling 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 counselling process might be affected by the client’s and counsellor’s racial identity. Recent research suggests that clients who are Black are at risk for experiencing racial micro-aggression from counsellors who are White.

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 counsellors, so counsellors might need help with gaining expertise for working with clients who are transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people of colour, and other oppressed populations.

Gender role socialisation can also present issues for clients and counsellors. Implications for practice include being aware of stereotypes and biases about male and female identity, roles and behaviour such as emotional expression. The APA guidelines for multicultural competence outline expectations for taking culture into account in practice and research.

Counselling Ethics and Regulation

Perceptions on ethical behaviours 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 behaviours are centred on “doing no harm” and preventing harm.

Counsellors cannot share any confidential information that is obtained through the counselling 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 programmes will also be notified of certain information about your diagnosis and treatment to determine if your care is covered. Those companies and government programmes are bound by HIPAA to keep that information strictly confidential.

Counsellors are held to a higher standard than most professionals because of the intimacy of their therapeutic delivery. Counsellors are not only to avoid fraternising with their clients. They should avoid dual relationships, and never engage in sexual relationships.

Counsellors are to avoid receiving gifts, favours, 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 counsellors, a judgement call must be made, but in a majority of cases, avoiding gifts, favours, and trade can be maintained.

The National Board for Certified Counsellors states that counsellors “shall discuss important considerations to avoid exploitation before entering into a non-counselling relationship with a former client. Important considerations to be discussed include amount of time since counselling service termination, duration of counselling, nature and circumstances of client’s counselling, the likelihood that the client will want to resume counselling at some time in the future; circumstances of service termination and possible negative effects or outcomes.”

Outcome Measurement

Counselling 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 counselling process and outcome uses a variety of research methodologies to answer questions about if, how, and why counselling works. Quantitative methods include randomly controlled clinical trials, correlation studies over the course of counselling, or laboratory studies about specific counselling process and outcome variables. Qualitative research methods can involve conducting, transcribing and coding interviews; transcribing and/or coding therapy sessions; or fine-grain analysis of single counselling sessions or counselling cases.

Training and Supervision

Professional Training Process

Counselling psychologists are trained in graduate programmes. Almost all programmes grant a PhD, but a few grant a Psy.D. or Ed.D. Most doctoral programmes take 5-6 years to complete. Graduate work in counselling psychology includes coursework in general psychology and statistics, counselling 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, counselling psychologists must gain clinical experience under supervision, and pass a standardised exam.

Australia

In Australia, counselling psychology programmes are accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC). To become registered as a counselling psychologist, one must meet the criteria for the area of practice endorsement. This includes an undergraduate degree in the science of psychology, an Honours degree or Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology, and a Master’s or Doctorate degree in counselling psychology. Graduates must then complete a registrar programme to obtain an area of practice endorsement and use the title counselling psychologist. 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

Counselling psychology includes the study and practice of counsellor training and counsellor supervision. As researchers, counselling psychologists may investigate what makes training and supervision effective. As practitioners, counselling psychologists may supervise and train a variety of clinicians. Counsellor training tends to occur in formal classes and training programmes. Part of counsellor training may involve counselling 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 counselling clients.

As the field of counselling 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 micro-counselling 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 counsellor training found that modelling, 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, counselling 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 supervised.

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 counsellor and his or her own supervisor can arise when supervisors demonstrate disrespect, lack of support, and blaming.

Vocational Development and Career Counselling

Vocational Theories

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 college major.

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 theorised 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 theorised 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 Counselling

Career counselling may include provision of occupational information, modelling skills, written exercises, and exploration of career goals and plans. Career counselling 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 counselling.

Professional Journals

In the United States, the premier scholarly journals of the profession are the Journal of Counselling Psychology and The Counselling Psychologist.

In Australia, counselling psychology articles are published in the counselling psychology section of the Australian Psychologist.

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 Counselling 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).