The History of Psychology and Counselling

• Psychology is a relatively new practice, founded by Sigmund Freud at the turn of the twentieth century.

• Today, Australian counsellors, psychologists and therapists deploy a number of treatment methods, depending on their training and schools of thought. The most common psychological approach in Australia is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT. Psychotherapeutic models of therapy are also well regarded.
Although psychology and psychotherapy has only been around in practice for a little over 100 years, advances in how human interactions are perceived and how problem behaviours are approached, have changed dramatically in that period of time.  From the first musings of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, to contemporary psychological theorists such as Virginia Satir and David Epston, human behaviours, development and family structures have been evaluated and deconstructed uncountable times.

Who Were Freud and Jung?

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are the individuals who are often credited with the foundations of modern psychology and psychotherapy. They both came from diverse backgrounds in which their personal history had an effect on how they developed their theories about human interactions and the motivations behind human behaviour. Freud was raised in a family with a dominant mother and a passive, almost absent, father. His own personal demons with being Jewish during a time when anti-Semitic feelings were strong in Europe, became part of his theories. The ideas of “penis envy,” “the Oedepus Complex” and all drives stemming from sexual desires, are based on Freud’s own personal interpretations of human interactions. (This article is electronically protected - Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

Jung was raised in a family with a strong, minister father. Although he had no desire to become a minister himself – and although he trained to become a minister – the influence of a strong religious and spiritual background are clear in his theories in which he places great emphasis on the role of the unconscious and the need for humans to find symbolic meaning in almost everything in life.

Both Freud and Jung were medical doctors, and in treating patients, they used a medical model which set the stage for how later analysts would work with clients.

Although many of Freud and Jung’s theories are considered far out of date today by modern psychologists, counsellors and therapists, they were the first to be recognised for thinking of human emotions as important facets of our health and well-being. (This article is electronically protected - Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

What is Developmental Psychology?

Out of the stage set by Freud and Jung came developmental psychology, which still has many followers today. Developmental psychology is the study of how humans develop from infants into independent adults, and how our knowledge, identity and personality is formed through experience. Many of us are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which effectively describe how human beings first focus on their physiological needs (things like food & shelter) before they can give consideration to their emotional needs (things like friendship, self esteem, and creativity). Maslow was one of the first proponents of humanist psychology, which adopted a holistic approach to humanity and a belief that people are all inherently moral and good. Other developmental theorists include Erik Erikson, Jerome Kagan and Lawrence Kholberg, whose work on moral development provided the groundwork for examining decisions about right and wrong and how we make behavioural choices.

Today’s developmental psychology focuses on a variety of aspects of development. Child development and how children grow to become adults is extremely important in most western industrial societies, so a great deal of effort is made to understand and treat issues and problems that result from development being interrupted as a result of abuse, trauma or other disruptions. However, developmental psychology is also applied to adults and adult relationships. In fact, one aspect of developmental psychology is entirely focused on adult relationships and the natural progression of how a couple comes together and develops an emotionally intimate bond. Couples relationship counselling is often a type of developmental psychology that is commonly practiced in Austrlaia. (This article is electronically protected - Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Probably the most contemporary outgrowth of developmental and other theories of human progress is what has become known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Initially cognitive and behavioural therapy were two different disciplines within psychology. Behavioural psychology was spurred by the work of B.F. Skinner, who discovered through his research that human actions, even as young children, were often motivated by the need for physical needs to be met. Skinner believed that humans developed behaviour patterns or “schemas” that were based on faulty assumptions. These thought patterns translated into behaviours that became problems.

Cognitive psychology is focused on how thoughts stimulate emotions, which then translate into beliefs and actions. This branch of psychology connects how thoughts, decision-making, problem solving and attention translate into behaviours.

Both behaviourism and cognitive theories were reactions in the 1960s and 1970s to the movement in the field of psychology toward a more person-centred humanistic framework that was the result of Carl Rogers’ influence in creating person-centered psychology. Person- centered psychology was a ‘warmer’ approach to working with clients. In fact, Rogers was the theorist who first began to use the term “client” rather than “patient,” when talking about the people he worked with. He did this in response to what Rogers perceived as a colder and more distanced method of working with clients.

In the 1980s cognitive and behaviour theories came together to become cognitive behaviour therapy, which is the foundation of many contemporary theories of psychology and the basis of much of psychology as it is practiced in Australia today. (This article is electronically protected - Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

How is Psychological Counselling Practiced Today?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a contemporary method common to psychological therapy and counselling in Australia today. CBT is a short-term counselling practice focused on identifying problem thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which teaches clients new modalities of thought which ideally eliminate problem feelings and behaviour.

Longer term counselling, such as psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, nd can include a variety of methods dependent on different schools of psychotherapeutic thought. These include the developmental psychology approach, which focuses on how behaviours are learned and entrenched throughout individual development, and psychoanalysis, which is invested in a thorough investigation of human relationships (particularly during childhood) of primary importance, (such as relationships with parents or siblings) and the impact of these on adult behaviour. Other psychotherapeutically based therapies include self-psychology and Gestalt psychotherapy. (This article is electronically protected - Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)


Where Do I go for Help If I Think I Need it?

Associated Counsellors & Psychologists work with a variety of counsellors and psychologists who practice using a range of psychological approaches. To discuss which approach might best suit your needs, or to make an appointment to see one of our counsellor or psychotherapists, please contact us.


Common mispellings and alternative search terms used to find this page include:
Psychology; Counseling; Counciling Therepy; Psycotherapy; Psycological Therapy; Frued; Yung; Developmantal Psychology; History of Psycholgy; CBT; Cogntive Behavior Therapy.

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All health information provided on
counsellingsydney.com.au is general in nature and is provided for information purposes only. The information contained on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat psychological conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to obtaining counselling or psychological advice from a qualified counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist or medical practitioner. Please consult a counselling professional or a health care provider about any health concerns you might have about yourself or others. Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney Pty. Ltd does not accept liability for any loss or damage associated with the use of this site.

This site may contain links to third party sites including sites on counselling, psychologist services, mental health and other unrelated material. The existence of these links is not to be construed as an endorsement by Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney Pty. Ltd as to the accuracy or quality of the information or services provided by these third party sites and we do not accept liability for any loss or damaged associated with the use of these third party sites.

This page is electronically copyright protected - do not copy - Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD


• Psychology is a relatively new practice, founded by Sigmund Freud at the turn of the twentieth century.

• Today, Australian counsellors, psychologists and therapists deploy a number of treatment methods, depending on their training and schools of thought. The most common psychological approach in Australia is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT. Psychotherapeutic models of therapy are also well regarded.

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