The Functional Absence or Presence of Learning Principles in the Behavior of Representatives of Three Diverse Theories of Counseling
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
There has been a void in the research literature concerning learning theory in counseling. Singular theoretical approaches to counseling have been thoroughly studied in terms of learning theory. Individual principles of learning theory have been investigated in depth. However, there is no reported work using multiple principles of learning to scrutinize multiple diverse theories of therapy. The present study attempts to fill that void. A data collection form was constructed using lists of behavior representative of the learning principles reinforcement, extinction, discrimination, and extinction. Undergraduate student nurses used the form to rate filmed segments of therapy sessions by Perls, Ellis and Rogers. From the results of the investigation it was concluded that undergraduate students can be taught to reliably observe behavior represented by therapists. It was further concluded that principles of learning theory do exist in the behaviors of therapists representing diverse theories of therapy. There were also differences in the presence of principles of learning theory among the therapists, but there were no differences between the therapists. There was a significant interaction between principles and therapists. In the study verbal behavior occurred significantly more frequently than nonverbal behavior. Implications and suggestions for further research were discussed.