A brief history of counselling therapy

history of counselling therapy

The history of counselling therapy can be traced back to Ancient Greece when the Greeks first identified mental illness as a medical condition and not spiritual. Human beings have always found comfort in sharing their troubles with others. Many people have differing theories for the origin of counselling therapy. Below is a brief history of counselling as a way to combat mental issues.

What is the origin of counselling?

Counselling can be traced back to the tribal ages when people would come together in a group and share their individual experiences or dreams. As time progressed and civilization was embraced, the concept of religion also encompassed counselling in different forms. Priests would listen to and advise their congregation on various personal matters.

History of counselling therapy

Most people trace modern-day counselling to a German neurologist, Sigmund Freud, who in 1890 developed a theory that was later known as psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis involved patients sharing their problems with a psychoanalyst, a professional trained in interpreting the subconscious.

Sigmund Freud – A brief history of counselling therapy

Sigmund Freud came to the conclusion that mental illness was as a result of one keeping memories and thoughts in the unconscious. He designed and developed methods, which encompassed listening to and providing interpretations that would attract these thoughts and memories to the surface.

His accomplices in the discovery of psychoanalysis include:

    • Karl Abraham

    • Otto Rank

    • Alfred Adler

    • Snador Ferenczi

    • Carl Jung

Carl Jung left Freud’s side to pursue his theories and methods, which were largely derived from Freud and Adler’s theories. Several of his ideas are still widely recognized today, for instance, archetypes, introvert/extrovert types, persona, and collective unconsciousness.

Psychoanalysis was later evolved by other brilliant minds such as Melanie Klein and Jaques Lacan into today’s methods and practices. This was not without internal conflict of opinion and Klein’s famous split with Anna, Sigmund Freud’s daughter.

Sigmund Freud played an important role in the development of counselling therapy. However, the term “counselling” did not have much influence and recognition until the 1950s and 60s. In America, counselling gained momentum in the 1950s after the Second World War.

In the period starting from 1950, there was a notable development in the mental health field. In the same year, a different approach was developed, and it was known as person-centred therapy. Carl Rodgers researched on the transition of warmth, acceptance, and genuineness from a therapist or counsellor to the client.

This approach avoids some of the excessively complicated constructs of psychodynamic therapy and is at the centre of many counselling practices. In the late 50s and then in the 60s, there were developments in the psychotherapy field, focusing on cognitive and behavioural approaches.

In the 50s, Albert Ellis developed rational emotive behavior therapy.

In the 60s, Aaron T.Beck developed cognitive therapy.

The combination of behavioural and cognitive approaches resulted in the development of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), which is the most used approach in counselling therapy. Currently, there are different approaches to therapy available, which include:

    • Humanistic

    • Behavioral

    • Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic.

In 1959, Victor Frankl published the English edition of his work “Mans Search for Meaning”, which issued an account of his time spent in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. In the book, there is an existential approach to therapy known as logo-therapy.

Post-Modern Approach to Counselling Therapy

The three types of post-modern therapies include;

    1. Narrative therapy, developed all through the 1970s and 80s by David Epston and Michael White, who proposed that unconscious processes and cultural influences shape human behaviour.

    2. Solution-focused theory, developed in the late 1970s by Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer. It is a future-focused, goal-oriented approach which assists clients replace problems for solution.

    3. Collaborative language systems, developed in the 1980s by Harry Goolishian and Harlene Anderson. These minds proposed that clients work through their troubles in the conversations they hold with their counselors or therapists.

The different types of therapy

There are many therapies approaches one can choose for their mental healths. They are divided into different types, and they all form a web of mental health solutions.

  1.     Relationship counselling.
  2.     Cognitive and behavioral therapies.
  3.     Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies
  4.     Humanistic therapies
  5.     Arts therapies

Each of these fields also has its own kinds of therapies.

Bottom Line – Counseling has existed for a while now, perhaps under different names and aspects. In its purest form, it is described as lending an ear to someone. It happens every day with our friends and family. However, if you need professional help that you are fully aware of, there is always a safe approach to take to ensure proper mental health.

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