Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (review)

In this blog post, we will write a short review on Gerald Corey’s book Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy.

We will also talk about the majority of theories and practices of counseling and psychotherapy. 

Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy, by Gerald Corey

Gerald Corey’s Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy is a long-time bestseller that introduces the readers to the most important and the majority of theories of counselling and psychotherapy.

The author speaks in great details about the following theories:

  • Psychoanalytic
  • Adlerian
  • Gestalt
  • Existential
  • Person-centred
  • Postmodern approaches (in the new and revised edition, the 7th edition)
  • Reality
  • Behaviour
  • Cognitive-behaviour
  • Family systems
  • Feminism

Gerald Corey’s Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy is peer-reviewed by other 27 field’s leading experts.

In this book, you will find information on great details and with relevant examples for the major concepts of counselling theories.

The reader will learn how to apply these practices according to each case in particular. 

Consolidating the reasoning, feeling, and behaving dimensions of human experience, Corey offers a straightforward book that assists understudies with looking at and differentiating therapeutic models.

This book is the focal point of a set-up of items that incorporate a revised understudy manual, a revised casebook and an all-new CD-ROM.

Table of contents


1. Introduction and Overview.

2. The Counselor: Person and Professional.

3. Ethical Issues in Counseling Practice.


4. Psychoanalytic Therapy.

5. Adlerian Therapy.

6. Existential Therapy.

7. Person-Centred Therapy.

8. Gestalt Therapy.

9. Behaviour Therapy.

10. Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

11. Choice Theory/Reality Therapy.

12. Feminist Therapy.

13. Postmodern Approaches.

14. Family Systems Therapy.


15. An Integrative Perspective.

Theories and Techniques of Counseling 

Psychoanalytic Therapy

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be helpful if you believe that personal emotions and thoughts may be at the root of your difficulties and problems.

Like many other therapies, psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a word therapy, it involves a relationship that involves an exchange of information and emotions.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is supported by psychoanalytic theory and knowledge (psychoanalysis is the creation of Sigmund Freud <1856 – 1939>.)

This form of treatment has been continued and developed for a long time, between what is said and what is not said, based on a whole theory of human development and interaction.

It is a therapy that focuses on unconscious processes as manifested in the current behaviour of the client.

This form of therapy starts from the premise that we all have an unconscious, hidden part that has a special role and leads us and influences our thinking, behaviour, dreams. 

Thus, self-knowledge presupposes, regardless of whether it is a diagnosed mental disorder or just a state of personal discomfort, gradually discovering what exists in one’s own unconscious and what forces govern it.

We often don’t realize how we hurt ourselves or that we could actually accomplish much more than we think we can.

Adlerian Therapy

Adlerian psychotherapy was founded by the Austrian physician and psychotherapist Alfred Adler, who founded the school of individual psychology as a result of the break-up of the psychoanalytic school.

Adler was the first important personality whose ideas conflicted with those of Freud and who left the circle of psychoanalysis to form an independent school of psychotherapy, with a new theory of human personality.

His conception of man is included in individual psychology, which studies man holistically.

Unlike psychoanalysis, in Adlerian Therapy, sex is no longer an essential factor in the development, and the centre of personality is the conscious.

People are considered social and cultural beings, motivated by social interests.

Existential Therapy

Existential psychotherapy was born in the middle of the twentieth century in Europe, out of the desire to find a more realistic way to understand human beings.

This type of therapy does not consist in a set of technical rules, but in deep questions about the nature of the human being and the significance of his experiences.

Existential neurosis refers to the condition of the human being who feels that his life is meaningless.

The patient is visualized in the centre of his culture, and the problems of most contemporary people are loneliness, alienation, isolation.

The existential approach in psychotherapy and counselling is based on existential philosophy – with Kierkegaard as the main representative – trying to answer questions we all ask ourselves at one time or another: “What does it mean to live?”, “What is the purpose of our existence? “, etc. 

Unlike traditional psychologies – focused on defining personality and explaining behaviour, existential psychotherapy has identified the great themes of everyday human existence: death, anxiety, freedom and choice, guilt, the meaning of life, time and extreme situations.

Intrapsychic conflicts are due to the individual’s confrontation with the four data of existence, identified by Irvin Yalom: the inevitability of death, freedom and responsibilities arising from it, existential isolation and meaninglessness.

Person-Centred Therapy

Person-centred psychotherapy was developed by psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1940s.

That is why it is also known as Rogerian psychotherapy.

It is a form of basic psychotherapy among humanistic therapies, is non-directive and is based on the relationship that is created between therapist and client.

Rogers believes that it is necessary to create a secure climate in the therapeutic setting, in which clients can learn self-acceptance.

Therefore, it met a set of conditions necessary for the development of the therapeutic process.

In short, this form of therapy assumes that if these six necessary conditions are met, the client can evolve and grow towards change.

Its foundation is based on the concept that man has an innate tendency to develop and develop his abilities in ways that serve to maintain and grow the body. 

This has been called by Rogers the “trend of updating.” The tendency to update is the motivational force that pushes towards growth, autonomy, development and differentiation.

Throughout life, this force strikes at the values imposed by the environment, called by Rogers “value conditions”.

Another type of therapy, called as the Solution Focused therapy Intervention is also a part of Psychotherapy and is used by many psychotherapists.

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt psychotherapy is a type of therapy focused on awareness and integration of 

current thinking, feelings and behaviour – here and now.

It is a form of existential and experiential psychotherapy that emphasizes personal choice and responsibility. 

According to the non-deterministic view, the human being is seen as having the ability to realize how past influences generate problems in the present.

Gestalt psychotherapy was founded in the mid-20th century by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman, as an alternative to analytical psychotherapy, practised in the first half of the century. 

The word “Gestalt” comes from the German language and has the main meaning – that which is apparent, perceived, conscious – and a secondary one – that which comes from the deep, from the environment, from the unconscious.

What differentiates Gestalt therapy from other psychotherapies is that the patient focuses on current bodily feelings and sensations to harmonize with important issues at the time.

The goal of Gestalt psychotherapy is integration and not analysis. 

The process reveals past beliefs, patterns, and experiences that stand in the way of success and well-being.

This type of awareness offers the opportunity for new choices and healthy changes.

Gestalt therapy means exploration rather than a direct change in behaviour.

Change takes place by accepting what exists and not by trying to become someone else.

Behaviour Therapy

What does behavioural therapy mean?

It means the therapist’s ability to understand atypical behaviours, as well as the generating basis of the behaviour.

Understanding the function that behaviour performs (social, stereotyping, communication) being essential for a specific intervention in neurodevelopmental disorders (eg autism).

In essence, a behaviour is fixed and repeated by any person (neurotypical), when it is rewarded for it (including a social reward like “Good job!”, “Very good!”).

Thus, when discussing the behaviours of people with autism or people with special needs, we need to divide the behaviours into two broad categories:

  • Excessive behaviours (those behaviours that we want to reduce): self or hetero aggression, obsessive-compulsive behaviours, self-stimulation, etc.
  • Deficient behaviours (those behaviours that we want to develop and master): socialization, language, self-service, self-care, play, etc.

As Lovaas mentioned in his books that have become benchmarks in behavioural intervention, intensive sequences, repetitive structures in which the child is given a command followed by a reward when the response or behaviour is appropriate is rewarded every time he responds correctly, are elements used in behavioural therapy.

The behavioural intervention will include three types of learning such as conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational (observational) learning.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy, aimed at identifying client problems in order to solve them using specific cognitive-behavioural techniques and strategies.

Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on studying the relationship between thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

The underlying concept of cognitive behavioural therapy is that our thoughts about a particular situation affect how we feel emotionally and physically. 

People give meaning to the events that are happening around them.

These meanings are not always precise, consistent with reality or helpful.

As a result, negative and unrelated thoughts often lead to maladaptive emotions, attitudes, and behaviours that affect our family life, social, or professional relationships. 

For example: avoiding situations that could trigger fear, strengthen our negative thinking every time we experience the same problem, leading to stress, anxiety and / or depression, forming a vicious circle.

Cognitive behavioural therapy helps people identify painful thoughts and assess how real those thoughts are.

Then he teaches them to change their distorted thinking by replacing it with a rational model.

When they think more realistically, people feel better. Therapy constantly focuses on solving the client’s problems and initiating behavioural changes.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is suitable for people of all ages.

Choice Theory/Reality Therapy

Reality psychotherapy is a cognitive-behavioural therapeutic approach developed in the 1960s by psychiatrist William Glasser.

In general, therapy aims to guide the patient to change their behaviour and thinking.

According to Glasser, people choose to be depressed, anxious, psychotic, etc. to avoid more painful experiences or to ask for help from others.

It is a way to deal with problems in interpersonal relationships or the lack of these relationships.

Psychological problems do not come from outside, but from within us – the facts and choices we make.

The brain reacts to the actions and thinking of the individual and not the other way around: the individual reacts to chemical imbalances in the brain; therefore, patients do not require psychotropic drugs, but psychotherapeutic treatment.

Reality psychotherapy focuses on the patient’s present and not on the past, as well as on the things he can change: his own actions and behaviour, and not those of those around him. 

The therapist tries to create a good relationship with the patient, to create an example of a relationship with other people.

The patient is asked what he wants and what he does to achieve it, he is helped to analyze his current behaviour, to establish plans for change and to be devoted to these plans. 

The therapist does not judge or evaluate the patient but has the role of an educator or mentor.

Feminist Therapy

Feminist psychotherapy is an approach that emphasizes gender and its influence on mental health, in this case, the pressure of a patriarchal society to which female identity is subject.

In the feminine approach, pleasant relationships and fairness predominate, while the masculine attitude is characterized by competition and power.

The problems addressed by feminist therapy are sexual discrimination and stereotypes in psychotherapy, blaming victims of physical and sexual abuse, the presumption of a traditional nuclear family, the elimination of women from the psychological discourse.

Feminist psychotherapy starts from the idea that women and men are born different and that psychotherapeutic methods created by and for men may not be effective for women.

They have a different view of the world and face problems irrelevant to male psychological construction. 

Feminist therapy aims to recognize these problems and find solutions from a feminine perspective.

This approach encourages women to become more present in social, cultural and political activities.

Family Systems Therapy

Systemic family and couple psychotherapy began to develop in the United States in the 1950s.

It is a type of psychotherapy that uses as a working method the metaphor of the system that says that people are interdependent with each other, forming subsystems and suprasystems that comply with the laws of the system.

This means that the psychotherapist specialized in this approach will seek to explain how clients’ problems arise and are maintained and will build intervention strategies focusing on the relationships in which individuals are caught (systemic perspective) not only on what the individual feels or thinks. intrapsychic).

 Thus, for a person who accuses a state of indefinite, inexplicable fear (anxiety), a systemic psychotherapist is not only interested in what he feels, what thoughts the person manifesting the problem has but is also interested in the relationships in which that person is caught and the link between problems (anxiety) and these relationships.

Experience shows that changing relationships have an effect on individuals. In the case of the person in our example, who manifests indefinite fear, the change of relationships with significant people (usually the family) has effects on the inner state of the individual and can lead to the disappearance of problematic states. 

Based on these hypotheses, a systemic psychotherapist will be interested in acting to change relationships, inviting in therapy significant people for the “identified patient”, for the one who manifests the problems. 

If it is not possible to bring significant people into therapy, it is possible to work systemically with a single individual (the one who bears the symptom), helping him to change his perception of relationships.

A significant change in an individual can influence the change in the whole system.


In this blog post, we wrote a short review on Gerald Corey’s book Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy.

We also talked about the majority of theories and practices of counseling and psychotherapy: psychoanalytic, Adlerian, existential, person-centred, gestalt, behaviour, cognitive-behaviour, reality, feminist and family systems therapy. 

Gerald Corey’s Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy is peer-reviewed by other 27 field’s leading experts. In this book, you will find information on great details and with relevant examples for the major concepts of counselling theories.

The reader will learn how to apply these practices according to each case in particular. 

Counselors can use an online portal Theralink to take sessions with their clients online, making use of all the techniques they know (as mentioned above).

Please feel free to write your own review on the book, or if you have any questions or comments do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section!


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Pepinsky, H. B., & Pepinsky, P. N. (1954). Counselling theory and practice. Ronald Press Company.

Ryan, J. (2019). Class in psychodynamic theory, research and practice. Psychodynamic Practice: Individuals, Groups and Organisations, 25(1), 44–59

Team JIAAP. (2014). Review of Theory and practice of counselling & therapy [Review of the book Theory and practice of counselling & therapy, by R. Nelson-Jones & Team JIAAP]. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 40(1), 159–160.

Zlatchin, P. (1954). Review of Counseling: Theory and Practice [Review of the book Counseling: Theory and practice, by H. B. Pepinsky & P. N. Pepinsky]. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1(3), 197–198.

Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy, by Gerald Corey

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