Theories play an important role in how a counselor serves their clients. Theories provide counselors with a foundation on which to build their counseling style. “Theories ground us as professional counselors. They provide a means to understand what we are doing, how we are serving clients, and how to explain counseling to clients” (Erford, 2010). Counselors are responsible for being aware of different theories in order to apply them appropriately within their practice. Established and new theories play an important and constant role in mental health counseling. Established theories in mental health counseling are based on “empirical or scientific foundations” (American Counseling Association, 2005). The best way to gain the most beneficial application of a theory is to establish its validity and purpose.
If we look at any professional field, it will be obvious that each professional has their own method of practice. The theories in mental health counseling allow counselors to have a good foundation while allowing them to incorporate their own unique styles into the practice. “Theories represent clients’ realities and what we know to be important and effective elements of the counseling relationship (Hansen, 2006a)” (Erford, 2010). Mental Health counseling understands that all clients are unique and require different types of treatment. “In their extensive review of the subject, Gelso and Carter (1985) stated that "most clients will profit about equally (but in different ways) from the different therapies" (p. 234)” (Hackney, 1992). As our world continues to grow and evolve so do our lives. New theories are important because they provide insight into new and emerging changes in our society.
Students at Walden are expected to become scholar practitioners. These students will continue to read and research in their field. All counselors have the ability to bring new perspectives and research into the field. It is an expectation that new counselors will continue to improve mental health counseling. “Some emergent theories were developed for specific purposes. For example, motiva-tional interviewing is an approach designed to work with individuals struggling with chem-ical dependency. Brief and solution- focused counseling provides a framework for working in a time- limited, perhaps managed care, counseling environment” (Erford, 2010). I would first review the data behind a new theory. Careful review of a theory would allow me to understand its purpose in my practice. I would also ensure that the new theory would benefit my client without creating further distress in his or her life. My goal would be to keep my client informed and involved in their therapy. While new theories are important a counselor has to closely evaluate the effectiveness of that theory.
Erford, 2010 states that a good theory is: “clear and easily understood, comprehensive, explicit and heuristic, generating further research,...