Counselling Approaches

4 Counselling Approaches Explained

In this section, we compare the different counselling approaches, looking at the differences and the similarities.
We compare person-centred therapy, transactional analysis, and rational emotive behavioural therapy. We also look at the future of counselling.

Person Centred – Carl Rogers

REBT – Albert Ellis

Transactional Analysis – Eric Berne

Fritz Perls – Gestalt

In comparing the different approaches in counselling, we see there are many similarities between some of the models, and we see some stark differences.
We will explore the history and underlying philosophies of the models under comparison, and we will identify the key principles that differentiate each model.
Let us look at the counselling approaches to be compared.

Different Counselling approaches

The Person-Centred Approach

Transactional Analysis

REBT – Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy

Three Therapies Compared and Contrasted

The Future of Counselling

Why have different therapies?

This question is asked a lot; just for the record, there are hundreds of differing types of talking therapy, but all of them find their roots in the three approaches we have looked at in this guide.
The reason there are differing approaches is that not all human beings are the same, and some of us have difficulties that may be better suited to one therapy than another. This is known in counselling circles as ‘best fit for client’.
Person-centred therapy is a non-directive form of counselling; as such, it suits people who want to explore issues of personal development, such as relationships, moving on from abuse, and coming to terms with loss.
It is a philosophical approach and so relies on the client being able to change their outlook on life and to value themselves.
For individuals in the grip of addiction, this approach may not offer enough strategies or techniques that the client can use to move on.
Person-centred counselling is relatively short term, with about 14 sessions being the norm, although it can go on for longer.


Transactional analysis is an active directive form of counselling. This means that the counsellor teaches the client the model of counselling and analyses the client’s past, sometimes as far back as their childhood.  This form of therapy is very effective for clients who have had difficult early childhoods that have then gone on to affect their behaviour as adults.
However it is not a quick fix, with sessions that can last for months or even years. If you are a paying client, this can be expensive. The long timescale may also make it impractical – for example, if you have a fear of flying and are going on holiday next week, this therapy is probably not for you!


REBT is also an active directive form of counselling. This means that the counsellor teaches the client the model of counselling and techniques that the client can use to change their irrational thoughts and replace them with more useful thinking. Thus, the mind set of ‘I have had three interviews and no job offers’ is replaced with ‘Perhaps I will have to have lots of interviews before I find work; I just need to keep trying.’
This therapy is usually short term (typically six sessions) and may not be useful for issues such as bereavement or historical abuse.

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  • Maria lopes

    just start my counselling course and dduring my research came across this clear and fascinating clarifications about different approach.

  • Eileen Lomingin

    Hi,Everyone!I need your help.I’m a graduate student taking up masters.I will be reporting a topic on General approach in counselling in our Guidance&Counselling class.My problem is I can’t find my topic in the internet.Is there such thing as General approach?Do you have any suggestions of reference?Please help!!Thanks!





    • Marian Zenabu Sinclair

      Help my assignment describe range of different approaches to helping using my counselling skills.