Psychological approaches to counselling

  • Philip Burnard
Part of the Therapy in Practice book series (TPS)


Anyone who acts as a counsellor does so from a position of having certain assumptions about the nature of the person. We all carry with us a certain set of beliefs about the psychological make-up of ourselves and other people. Often this belief system is only hazily articulated. Sometimes it is not articulated at all. However vague that system is, it motivates us and helps us in our decision-making about how to help other people. In this chapter, some formalized belief systems about the person are briefly explored, drawn from a variety of schools of psychology. It is suggested that in exploring this variety of approaches to the person, we may be able to clarify our own set of beliefs. It is only through clarifying what we believe that we can hope to change or modify our practice. What follows, then, is a brief exploration of some psychological approaches to counselling . Some will seem to be congruent with what we believe ourselves. Others will seem quite alien. The skill may be to try to adopt the psychological approach least like our own and to suspend judgement on it for a while. In trying out a new set of ideas in this way, we are already developing a skill that is vital in the process of counselling — that of adopting a frame of reference different to our own. This is a process that is fundamental to counselling.


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Copyright information

© Philip Burnard 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Burnard
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wales College of MedicineUK

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