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A Comprehensive Look at my Theoretical Orientation

Lisa Rogers

Winona State University

Spring 2016

Since I have completed practicum and one semester of my internship, I have found that

my theoretical perspective has changed a lot more than I had anticipated. After finishing my

theories class, I had a mostly cognitive-behavioral perspective, although I also liked some

aspects of reality therapy and person centered therapy. Since then, I think that I have become

much more eclectic in my use of counseling theory and therapeutic techniques. I try to match

therapy techniques and theoretical perspectives based upon the client themselves versus on own

preferences in order to provide the most competent services for my clients.

I would say that my main theoretical orientation is Person Centered Therapy (Sommers-

Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2013). I believed that all therapy should be person-centered to

an extent. I believe in the power of unconditional positive regard as an element of change where

the person feels comfortable being able to be their true self. I also believe in the counselor being

genuine and authentic, because if I am not being genuine and authentic during therapy, I do not

believe that I can ask or expect my clients to be genuine and authentic with me (Sommers-

Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2013). I also feel more comfortable during sessions when I am

being myself. Since I am doing what comes naturally for me, I am able to focus less on myself

and more on being in the present moment with my clients. I also frequently employ the use of

reflections, especially reflections of emotions, because I feel that these can help clients to go

deeper in the session. In addition to a person centered perspective, I also frequently employ

motivational interviewing techniques, which is rooted in a person centered perspective, in order

to work with clients who are ambivalent about change. Motivational Interviewing also emphasis

rapport building and connection with clients and motivational interviewing recommends

spending part of the session building rapport with clients and engaging in conversations with

them (Keeley et al., 2016). I think that doing this is incredibly useful for me because the stronger

the rapport I have with a client, the more they will keep coming back and the more ability I have

to engage in caring confrontation with clients. I also think that it helps me to be a better clinician

because it aids me in viewing the client as a person versus a diagnosis.

I also use a little bit of Reality Therapy during sessions at times. I often emphasis to my

clients that we cannot change others and can only change our own actions, which is something

that I have borrowed from reality therapy (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2013). I

frequently use caring confrontation with my clients as well. In addition to using some aspects of

Reality Therapy, I also borrow concepts from Dialectal-Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Most often I

use the concept of mindfulness in order to help clients stay in the present so that they can enjoy

their life instead of being caught up in the future or the past (Linehan & Wilks, 2015). I also

emphasize coping skills with clients in order to aid in emotional regulation.

Another theory that I commonly use is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I

commonly use Socratic questioning and guessing the thought. One of the things that I do very

often with clients is to challenge negative thoughts (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan,

2013). I frequently have clients write down their negative thoughts that they frequently have, and

then in counseling we work on reframing those statements. After the client is able to recognize

their negative thoughts easily as they are occurring and after they are more comfortable

reframing their negative thoughts in counseling, they begin to reframe their negative thoughts

themselves outside of therapy, and then they begin to do it in the moment when those thoughts

are occurring, which I have found to be very helpful for clients.

I would not say that I have one specific theoretical orientation, because I personally

believe that that would be extremely limiting. Every type of therapy has its strengths but also has

its limitations. I also think that if clinicians get too locked down on using one theoretical

orientation and is not able to adapt to the needs of the client, that can be detrimental to the client.

However, there are certain techniques and theories that I use most often. I use Person Centered

Therapy in all of my sessions to some extent. I also commonly use techniques from CBT, such as

Socratic questioning, guessing the thought, and cognitive reframing and challenging negative

thoughts. I also borrow a little bit from Reality Therapy and DBT.


Sommers-Flanagan, J. & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2013). Counseling and psychotherapy

theories in context and practice (2nd edition). New Jersey: JohnWiley & Sons.

Keeley, R. D., Brody, D. S., Engel, M., Burke, B. L., Nordstrom, K., Moralez, E., & ...

Emsermann, C. (2016). Motivational interviewing improves depression outcome in

primary care: A cluster randomized trial. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical

Psychology, 84(11), 993-1007.

Linehan, M. M., & Wilks, C. R. (2015). The course and evolution of dialectical behavior

therapy. American Journal Of Psychotherapy, 69(2), 97-110.