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Fathers and Mothers of Counseling

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This research paper focuses of the Fathers and Mothers of Counseling: Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Rogers, Albert Ellis and Natalie Rogers. The contributions to the development of the field of the counseling profession will be discussed. We will also discover if these contributions have evolved into another approach and if the theories are still being used today and how they shape our world in the counseling environment. The first “Father of Counseling” that will be discussed is Sigmund Freud. We will then touch base on Alfred Adler, Carl Rogers, Albert Ellis and conclude with Natalie Rogers. Freud was known for his method of psychology that focuses on unconscious factors that motivate behavior. According to Freud, our behavior is determined by irrational forces, unconscious motivations, and biological and instinctual drives as these evolve through key psychosexual stages in the first six years of life. The Personality is consisted of three systems: The Id, which is the biological component, the ego, which is the psychological component and the superego, which represents the social component.

Freud’s greatest contributions are his concepts of the unconscious and the levels of consciousness, which are the keys to understanding behavior and the problems of personality. Also essential to the psychoanalytic approach is its concept of anxiety. There are three kinds of anxiety: reality, neurotic and moral. When the ego cannot control anxiety by rational and direct methods, it relies on indirect ones namely ego-defense behavior. Freud postulated three stages of development that is often the driving force in people coming to counseling. The oral stage is first and it’s the fear of loving and forming close relationships and low self-esteem. Next is the anal stage, which deals with the inability to recognize and express anger, leading to the denial of one’s own power as a person and the lack of a sense of autonomy. Third is the phallic stage, which deals with the inability to fully accept one’s sexuality and sexual feelings and also the difficulty in accepting oneself as a man or woman. Alfred Adler was working with Freud, however the two parted ways because Adler thought Freud’s basic theories were too narrow.

Adler felt as though humans are motivated primarily by social relatedness rather than by sexual urges; behavior is purposeful and goal-directed; and consciousness, more than unconsciousness being the focus of therapy. Adler’s theory focuses on inferiority feelings. Adlerian theory looks at human behavior as not solely determined by heredity and environment, but also incorporates the capacity to interpret, influence and create events. Adler named his approach Individual Psychology and stressed the importance of understanding the person as a cohesive whole. Adler emphasized the unity and indivisibility of the person.

This holistic concept implies that we cannot be understood in parts, but all aspects of ourselves must be understood in relationship. Carl Rogers articulated the concepts from humanistic psychology which is called the person- centered approach. The practice of this approach is known as Person-Centered Therapy. A core theme in his theory is the necessity for nonjudgmental listening and acceptance if clients are to change. Rogers basic assumptions are that people are basically trustworthy and have the potential to understand themselves and solve their own issues without intervention on a therapist’s part, and they are capable of self-directed growth if involved in a specific kind of therapeutic relationship. There were four periods of development of the approach.

In the first period during the 1940’s Rogers developed what was known as nondirective counseling. In the second period, during the 1950’s, Rogers wrote Client-Centered Therapy and renamed it so to reflect his emphasis on the client. The third period which began in the late 1950’s and extended to the 1970’s, addressed the necessary and sufficient conditions of therapy. The publication was “On Becoming a Person.” The fourth phase took place during the 1980’s and the 1990’s, Rogers had a vast interest in how people obtain, possess, share, or surrender power and control over others and themselves. Due to this interest, Rogers theory became known as the person-centered approach. Albert Ellis developed a theory of emotional disturbance that put an end to the blame of problems on one’s parents, boss, or spouse. During a period when psychoanalysis was at its height, Ellis broke the psychotherapy mold and created Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), referred to as Rational Therapy at the time. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) was one of the first cognitive behavior therapies, and today it continues to be a major cognitive behavioral approach. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is based on the premise that although we originally learn irrational beliefs from significant others during childhood, we create irrational dogmas by ourselves.

Ellis contends that people do not need to be accepted and loved, even though this may be highly desirable. The therapist teaches clients how to feel undepressed even when they are unaccepted and unloved by significant others. Ellis insists that the blame is a t the core of the most emotional disturbances. Therefore, to recover from a neurosis or a personality disorder, we need to stop blaming ourselves and others. Instead it is important that we learn to fully accept ourselves despite our imperfections. Natalie Rogers has extended her father’s work, Carl Rogers into the creative and expressive arts. Person-centered theory and therapy began with and evolved from the thinking, research, and practice of Carl Rogers. Person-centered expressive art therapy is an alternative to traditional verbal counseling approaches and may be especially helpful for clients stuck in linear, rigid, and analytic ways of thinking and experiencing the world.

Natalie Rogers also has woven person-centered principles into the fabric of her personal and professional life. In particular, she has used, and continues to use, the person-centered approach to facilitate therapeutic growth through art, movement, writing, and music modalities. Natalie Rogers refers to this therapeutic integration as person-centered expressive art therapy and, in 1984, founded the Person-Centered Expressive Therapy Institute. These “Founders of Counseling” have laid down a solid foundation for us to not only learn from but to also improve the various approaches in an effort of changing as the world changes to better address and resolve the reasons why clients seek our experience out. We want to learn from the past so that we can use it as a blueprint to the future. Therefore not disregarding the research that was completed before, but utilizing it as resources when assisting others.


CARLSON, J. D., & ENGLAR-CARLSON, M (2008). Adlerian therapy. In J. Frew & M. D. Spiegler (Eds.), Contemporary psychotherapies for a diverse world (pp 93-140). Boston: Lahaska Press. Carlson, J., & Kjos, D. (2000). Person centered therapy with Dr. Natalie Rogers [Videotape]. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. COREY, G. (2008). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (8th ed.) (pp 9, 61,62, 65, 66, 98, 99, 165, 166, 167, 275 & 277). Doyle, K. A. (2011). Albert ellis and rational emotive behavior therapy: A personal reflection. Journal of Rational – Emotive & Cognitive – Behavior Therapy, 29(4), 207-210. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10942-011-0141-5. Rogers, N. ( 1993). The creative connection: Expressive arts as healing. New York: Science & Behavior Books. Sommers-Flanagan, J. (2007). The development and evolution of person-centered expressive art therapy: A conversation with natalie rogers. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, 85(1), 120-125. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.bellevue.edu:80/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/219048565?accountid=28125.

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