What Is Theoretical Orientation?

Theoretical orientation involves a customized approach to how a counselor best serves their client. Every client is different and reacts to different treatments, and theoretical orientation is there to help the counselor find the best method to tackle their client’s problems.

When counselors use theoretical orientation, it typically involves the counselor getting to know the person, and over time, the counselor may deploy a few techniques to see if it will help.

In other words, the theoretical orientation is the counselor’s preferred therapy method. When seeking a counselor, asking what their theoretical orientation is can be a productive question, as there are so many orientations in psychology.

A List Of Therapies

Theoretical orientation uses quite a few therapies. These therapies can be classic, stemming from the beginning of modern psychology, to more contemporary. These theories include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

With CBT, it’s believed that the client’s beliefs and actions are the main culprits behind the client’s problem. To apply CBT, a counselor will have to figure out what behaviors and beliefs are the most problematic, and then challenge the client to change them or make some adjustment.

The client may have to record their behaviors in a journal, tracking down thoughts and feelings as they occur, and figure out what situations will cause them to have an episode. When they report to the counselor, they can figure out how to handle the behaviors whenever they arise.

It’s safe to say that everyone has behaviors that can be self-destructive, and if your behaviors are out of control, CBT can help.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This is similar to CBT and uses a lot of its techniques, but instead of concentrating on their bad behaviors, it instead looks at a client’s self-awareness, emotion regulation, distress levels, and much more. It was originally a treatment for BPD, or Borderline Personality Disorder, but you can apply it to other mental issues too.

Family Counseling

Also known as family therapy, this involves the entire family. By family, this can mean children, entire families, or just couples, and they are all considered the counselor’s client. With family counseling, it can be a separate job or involve talking to all the family at once. A counselor can learn a great deal from observing the interactions between family members. Whether it’s a bickering couple parents trying to reach out to their unruly child, family counseling can help.

Feminist Counseling

This orientation looks at the world through a feminist lens, but they’re not just limited to a person’s sex or gender identity. Instead, they may look at how a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, and age play a part of their life experience.

Gestalt Therapy (GT)

GT involves the here and now. This goes by many names, such as mindfulness, and its job is to help the client be more aware of their present behaviors and feelings, with the goal being how they affect the world around them. GT is a good therapy system to have when the client is too focused on the past or future


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