2012. Vol.3, No.7, 527-533
Published Online July 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 527
Theoretical Orientations of Turkish Counselor Trainees: The Role
of Thinking Styles, Epistemology and Curiosity
Ilkay Demir, Esra Ismen Gazioglu
Department of Psychological Counseling and Guidance, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
Received April 6th, 2012; revised May 7th, 2012; accepted June 2nd, 2012
Counselors vary in personality traits, worldviews, epistemic values, cognitive styles, and developmental
influences, and these variations in return effect their choice of a guiding theory. This study addresses the
variables associated with the theoretical orientations of Turkish psychological counseling students. Par-
ticipants completed measures of curiosity, thinking styles, epistemological beliefs and a questionnaire on
their theoretical choices. Three separate discriminant analysis were conducted to understand which vari-
ables differentiate between theoretical orientations. Results of the discriminant analysis revealed that
conservative and liberal thinking styles and absorption dimension of curiosity differentiated between
theoretical orientations.
Keywords: Psychological Counseling; Theoretical Orientations; Psychological Counseling in Turkey;
Counseling Orientations in Turkey
The term theoretical orientation refers to a set of assumptions,
providing a framework to the counselor for formulating hy-
potheses about a client’s experience, creating specific treatment
interventions, and looking over the evolving therapeutic process
(Poznanski & McLennan, 1995). Every theoretical orientation
act to guide counselors in helping and conceptualizing their
clients (Coleman, 2004; Norcross, 1985; Poznanski & McLen-
nan, 1995). Thus, a theoretical viewpoint provides the most
appropriate techniques to deal with a given client. One of the
major tasks a counseling student should achieve is to decide on
a theoretical orientation. Researchers agree that focusing on a
single theory is essential in counselor development and training
(Corey, 2012; Schmidt, 2001; Watts, 1993; Young, 1993). Ac-
cording to Freeman Hayes, Kuch and Taub (2007), a counsel-
ing student should develop a coherent theoretical perspective
for a better understanding of human nature. Likewise, many
researchers (e.g. Baruth & Huber, 1985; Capuzzi & Gross,
1999; Sharf, 2000) suggest that mastering in a single theory
contribute to the students’ vocational efficacy. Counselors vary
in personality traits, worldviews, epistemic values, cognitive
styles, and developmental influences (Conway, 1988; Zachar &
Leong, 1992) and these variations in return effect their choice
of a guiding theory. Some of the researchers emphasize the
importance of education, supervision, economic conditions and
clinical experience in selecting a theory (Cummings & Luc-
chese, 1978; Schwartz, 1978), while others emphasize person-
ality, thinking and learning styles, epistemological beliefs and
values (Arthur, 2000, 2001; Bitar, Bean, & Bermudez, 2007;
Murdock, Banta, Stromseth, Viene, & Brown, 1998; Poznanski
& McLennan, 2003; Tremblay, Herron, & Schultz, 1986; Vasco,
Garcia-Marques, & Dryden, 1993; Worthington & Dillon,
Different theoretical orientations show differences in evalu-
ating, processing, and reacting to knowledge (Corey, 2012).
Thus, students’ conceptualization of knowledge (epistemologi-
cal beliefs), their preferred ways to react to different situations
(thinking styles) and their search for knowledge (curiosity) are
thought to be important factors in determining their theoretical
orientations. Schommer (1990) defines epistemological beliefs
as a system of considerably independent beliefs about the na-
ture of knowledge and learning. These beliefs consist of “ability
to learn” which proposes that learning is be innate or gradually
develops with experience, “speed of learning” which proposes
that learning is quick or not-at all, “stability of knowledge”
which proposes that knowledge is either permanent or tentative,
“structure of knowledge” which proposes that knowledge is
simple or complex and “source of knowledge” which proposes
that knowledge is handed down by authority versus learner’s
construction of knowledge through reason. Beliefs about
knowledge and learning have a great deal of influence on the
learner’s approach in dealing with and constructing theoretical
information. In a study by Lyddon (1989), a mechanistic epis-
temology has found to be associated with the choice of Freu-
dian theory and behaviorism, while an organistic epistemology
has found to be associated with the choice of humanistic and
transpersonal movements. Similar results were obtained from
other studies (e.g., Lyddon & Adamson, 1992; Neimeyer,
Prichard, Lyddon, & Sherrard, 1993). In another study Ration-
alist cognitive therapies have found to be associated with a
basic thinking style, while constructivist approaches have found
to be associated with complicated thinking style (Mahoney &
Gabriel, 1987). Finally, therapists with rational epistemic
commitments are primarily characterized by their belief in
a-priori truths (Mahoney, Lyddon, & Alford, 1989). Given
these results, in this study behavioral and psychodynamic ap-
proaches are expected to be associated with epistemological
rigidity, while cognitive, humanistic, existential and solution
focused approaches are expected to be associated with episte-
mological flexibility.
Another construct, hypothesed to be associated with theo-
retical orientations of counseling students is thinking styles.
According to Sternberg (1997) thinking style is an interface
between ability and personality. He proposed thirteen thinking
styles as applied to individuals. Among them, legislative style
enjoys being engaged in tasks that require creative strategies,
executive style is concerned with implementation of tasks with
prescribed guidelines, and judicial style emphasizes evaluating
others’ work. Internal style enjoys working independently,
while external style enjoys collaborative tasks. Finally, liberal
style prefers to engage in tasks involving novelty and ambiguity,
while conservative style enjoys adhering to the existing rules
and procedures. To date we found no studies, which directly
address Sternberg’s thinking styles and theoretical orientations.
However, a number of studies are conducted using similar con-
structs. Accordingly, psychodynamic oriented counselors found
to be more introverted, critical and intuitive; behavioral ori-
ented counselors are found to be more conventional, orderly,
cognitive oriented counselors found to be more traditional,
rational, directive, conformist and conservative while humanis-
tic/existential oriented counselors are found to be open to ex-
perience, open-minded, non-directive and idealistic (e.g., Ar-
thur, 2000, 2001; Ogunfowora & Drapeau, 2008; Vasco et al.,
1993). Given these results, we expect psychodynamic orienta-
tion to be associated with internal and judicial styles, humanis-
tic/existential orientations to be associated with external, liberal
and judicial styles, behavioral, cognitive behavioral and reality
therapy orientations to be associated with legislative, executive
and conservative styles.
Finally, we hypothesed that theoretical orientations may vary
in terms of curiosity. Curiosity can be defined as the recogni-
tion, pursuit, and intense desire to explore novel, challenging,
and uncertain events (Kashdan, Rose, & Fincham, 2004). Thus,
curiosity motivates people to try to learn, understand and ex-
plore knowledge (Ainley, Hidi, & Berndorff, 2002). Curiosity
is theorized to have two components: diversive curiosity (ex-
ploration) means to actively looking for various sources of
knowledge and specific curiosity (absorption) means to actively
looking for depth and became fully engaged in one’s knowl-
edge (Kashdan et al., 2004: p. 293). While the dimension of
exploration may not have a specific influence on the choice of
theoretical orientation, we hypothesed that high levels of ab-
sorption may be associated with the choice of highly investiga-
tive, analytic, profound approaches, such as psychodynamic,
experiential and humanistic/existential approaches.
Hummel (2009) points out that in the US, the emphasis in
undergraduate courses is on learning and using basic helping
skills and learning theories about helping, rather than on be-
coming a professional counselor or therapist. His statement
holds true also for the Turkish context. It is not possible to pre-
sent theoretical knowledge integrated with supervised practice
within Turkish undergraduate counselor education. Thus, in
most cases undergraduate students are exposed to a limited
range of supervised practices. As a result, theoretical orienta-
tions, which constitute a major theme outside the Turkish con-
text, have not gained enough attention from Turkish counseling
scholars (see Oztep, 1998). Studying factors effecting theoreti-
cal choice among Turkish counseling students may provide
valuable information on values and assumptions of student
counselors with diverse orientations, and contribute to our un-
derstanding of their theoretical decision making process. Given
these, current study aims to examine theoretical choices of
counseling students and to understand the roles of epistemo-
logical beliefs, thinking styles and curiosity in discriminating
between theoretical orientations.
Participants and Procedure
Participants were 207 undergraduate students from Istanbul
and Marmara universities, who were enrolled in the third and
fourth grades of guidance and psychological counseling pro-
gramme during the spring semester of 2011. The rationale for
selecting 3rd and 4th graders was to recruit participants, who
completed a course on counseling theories, and have a basic
knowledge on major counseling theories. Preliminary analysis
of the data revealed that of the total 207 participants, 68 se-
lected cognitive/cognitive-behavioral approach as their major
theoretical orientation, while 44 selected solution focused, 47
selected humanistic/existential approaches and the remaining
41 selected behavioral (9), Gestalt (11), Psychodynamic (7),
Reality Therapy (6) and Transactional Analysis (8). Of the 207,
six of the participants chosen more than one theoretical orienta-
tion. The results of the preliminary analysis also signaled 3
cases with extreme values and 3 cases with a large number of
missing data. Given these results, 12 cases with extreme values,
missing data were deleted from the analysis. Likewise, 41 cases,
which selected behavioral, gestalt, psychodynamic, reality
therapy and transactional analysis were deleted from the analy-
sis because, in order to run a discriminant analysis the mini-
mum sample size in each categorical group should exceed the
number of predictors (see Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson, &
Tatham, 2006). Thus, only the top three ranking theoretical
orientations (namely, cognitive/cognitive behavioral, humanis-
tic/existential, and solution focused) were included in the final
analysis. After the modifications in the data, the final sample
consisted of 154 undergraduate students (Female n = 109; Male
n = 45) from Istanbul (n = 85; 55.2%) and Marmara universities
(n = 69; 44.8%), who were enrolled in the third (n = 76; 49.4%)
and fourth grades (n = 78; 50.6%) of guidance and psychologi-
cal counseling programme during the spring semester of 2011.
Participants’ age ranged from 19 to 25 (M = 21.89; SD =
The Epistemological Belief Scale (Deryakulu & Buyukoz-
turk, 2002; Schommer, 1990), Thinking Styles Inventory (Bu-
luş, 2006; Sternberg & Wagner, 1992), Curiosity and Explora-
tion scale (Demir & Ismen Gazioglu, 2011; Kashdan, Rose, &
Fincham, 2004) and a demographic information form prepared
by the researchers were utilized for the study.
Demographic Information Form prepared by the research-
ers was utilized for the study. Along with providing informa-
tion about their age, sex, school and grade, participants were
asked which theoretical orientation they would have chosen if
they were given a chance to specialize in a counseling theory.
Participants were asked to choose one primary theoretical ori-
entation from a list that included eight choices namely, psy-
chodynamic, behavioral, cognitive/cognitive behavioral, hu-
manistic/existential, Gestalt, Reality, Solution Focused and
Transactional Analysis. Eclectic/Integrative approach was not
included for theoretical choice because most of the undergradu-
ate students were predicted to select it, if included. However, in
order to understand their theoretical orientations more clearly,
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
in a separate question students were asked whether they would
select eclectic approach if included among theoretical ap-
The Epistemological Belief Scale (EBS; Schommer, 1990)
EBS is a 5 point likert type instrument and item responses
range from 1 (never describes me) to 5 (always describes me).
The instrument is scored by adding up the responses to all the
items in each dimension, providing four distinct scores for each
individual. Higher scores in each scale indicate higher levels of
characteristics represented by the scale. The test, re-test coeffi-
cient of the original scale is 0.74, and the reliability coefficients
of the subscales are between 0.85 and 0.63 (Schommer, 1993).
The Turkish validation of the scale was done by Deryakulu and
Buyukozturk (2002). Turkish validation revealed three factors
namely, “belief that learning requires effort” (18 items, α = .83),
“belief that learning requires talent” (9 items, α = .62) and “be-
lief in a single truth” (8 items, α = .59) (Deryakulu & Bu-
yukozturk, 2002). The Cronbach Alpha coefficients in this
study are calculated as .78 for “belief that learning requires
effort”, .73 for “belief that learning requires talent” and .64 for
“belief in a single truth”.
Thinking Styles Inventory (TSI; Sternberg & Wagner, 1992)
This is a 7 point likert type instrument that consists of 5 factors
and 104 items; 8 for each 13 subscales (legislative, executive,
judicial, monarchic, hierarchic, oligarchic, anarchic, global,
local, internal, external, liberal and conservative). The instru-
ment is scored by adding up the responses to all the items in
each dimension, providing thirteen distinct scores for each in-
dividual. Higher scores in each scale indicate higher levels of
characteristics represented by the scale. The original reliability
coefficients of the subscales were reported to range from .88
to .42 (Zhang & Sternberg, 2000). Turkish validation of the
instrument was done by Fer (2005). Turkish validation revealed
that reliability of subscales varies between .50 (monarchic)
and .89 (conservative) and the test-retest reliability of subscales
ranged from .63 (oligarchic) to .78 (external) (Fer, 2005). The
Cronbach Alpha coefficients of the subscales utilized in this
study are calculated as .83 for legislative style, .80 for execu-
tive style, .88 for judicial style, .84 for internal style, .84 for
external style, .89 for liberal style and .91 for conservative
Curiosity and Exploration Inventory (CEI; Kashdan et al.,
2004) The original scale consists of two factors namely, “Ex-
ploration” and “Absorption”. CEI is a 7 item-7 point likert type
instrument and item responses range from 1 (never describes
me) to 7 (always describes me). The instrument is scored by
adding up the responses to all the items in each dimension,
providing four distinct scores for each individual. Higher scores
in each scale indicate higher levels of characteristics repre-
sented by the scale. CFA of the original scale is reported to fit
the data well [χ2(13, N = 213) = 18.00, p > .15; χ2/df = 1.38;
GFI = .98, CFI = .98, RMSEA = .04]. The original scale ac-
counted for 61% of the total variance, with factor loadings
ranging from .51 to .82. Turkish adaptation of the instrument
was done by the researchers for this study. For the Turkish
adaptation, scale was administered to 96 undergraduate students
enrolled in Istanbul University Faculty of Education (69 fe-
males, 27 males). KMO (.72) and Bartlett (χ2 = 188.78; p
< .000) scores were found to be adequate for factor analysis.
Factor analysis revealed two factors with eigen values higher
than 1. The factor loadings ranged from .90 to .55 and the first
factor (exploration) consisted of 4 items explaining 41.4% of
the total variance, while the second factor (absorption) con-
sisted of 3 items explaining the 19.5% of the total variance.
Overall, the instrument explained the 61% of the total variance.
The reliability analysis of the Turkish CEI revealed .68 alpha
coefficient for exploration and .76 for absorption. In conclusion,
retaining its original item and factor structure, Turkish CEI
have proven to be a valid tool to utilize in the Turkish context.
Data Analysis
First, Descriptive statistics were computed to examine the
whole data for extreme values and missing values. Cases with
such anomalies were deleted from the analysis. Second, fre-
quency analysis was done to examine the distribution of data
according to theoretical orientations. Finally, three separate
discriminant analysis were conducted in order to determine the
variables, which differentiate among the three theoretical ori-
entations. We used discriminant analysis to analyze the data,
because we were mainly interested in determining which vari-
ables differentiated among the various orientations. Analyses
were done using SPSS 16.00, an alpha level of .05 was used to
determine statistical significance.
The findings regarding the theoretical orientations of the
students revealed that 42% of the participants chose Cogni-
tive/Cognitive Behavioral approach (N = 65), 30% of them
chose Humanistic/Existential approach (N = 46) and 28% chose
Solution Focused approach (N = 43) as their major theoretical
orientations. In addition, 74% of the participants indicated that
they would choose “eclectic/integrative approaches” if it was
included among the options. Three separate discriminant analy-
sis were conducted in order to explore the relative contribution
of epistemological beliefs, thinking styles and curiosity in dis-
criminating three theoretical orientations. The reason for con-
ducting three separate discriminant analysis was to avoid possi-
ble multicolinarity and masking within the data. In all three
analysis Box’s Ms were not statistically significant.
The first analysis was done to explore the discriminative role
of seven thinking styles namely, Legislative, Executive, Judi-
cial; Internal, External; and Liberal, Conservative subscales.
The results of the first analysis revealed that the first function
had significant effects in discriminating participants’ theoretical
orientations ( = .84, 2(14, N = 154) = 25.77, p < .01), while
the second function had no significant effects ( = .96, 2(6, N
= 154) = 5.35, p > .05). The first function had an eigen value
of .148, and accounted for 80% of the variance in the model.
Table 1 (Structure matrix) shows that high conservative think-
ing scores and low liberal thinking scores significantly contrib-
ute to the first function in discriminating between theoretical
orientations. Table 2 (Group centroids) show that the function
discriminated between humanistic/existential groups and solu-
tion focused-cognitive/cognitive behavioral groups. This result
indicates that, Humanistic/Existential group prefers a more
liberal and less conservative thinking style than solution fo-
cused and cognitive/cognitive behavioral groups. In other
words, Humanistic/Existential oriented students differ from
solution focused and cognitive/cognitive behavioral oriented
students by higher liberal thinking scores and lower conserva-
tive thinking scores. Overall 52% of the cases were correctly
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 529
The second analysis was done to explore the discriminative
role of two curiosity dimensions, namely exploration and ab-
sorption. The results of the second analysis revealed that the
first function had significant effects in discriminating partici-
pants’ theoretical orientations ( = .88, 2(4, N = 154) = 18.56,
p < .001), while the second function had no significant effects
( = .99, 2(1, N = 154) = .614, p > .05). The first function had
an eigen value of .127, and accounted for 97 % of the variance
in the model. Table 3 (Structure matrix) shows that high ab-
sorption scores significantly contribute to the first function in
discriminating between theoretical orientations. Table 4 (Group
centroids) show that the function discriminated between hu-
manistic/existential groups and solution focused-cognitive/cog-
nitive behavioral groups. This result indicates that, Humanis-
tic/Existential group score higher on absorption than solution
focused and cognitive/cognitive behavioral groups. In other
words, Humanistic/Existential oriented students differ from
solution focused and cognitive/cognitive behavioral oriented
students by higher absorption scores. Overall 51% of the cases
were correctl y clas sified.
The third analysis was done to explore the discriminative
role of three epistemological belief factors, namely belief that
Table 1.
Structure matrix for thinking styles dimensions.
Styles Function
Conservative .655*
Liberal –.581*
Judicial –.324
Legislative .192
Executive .232
Internal –.182
External –.136
Table 2.
Group centroids for thinking styles dimensions.
Groups Function
Humanistic/Existential –.541
Solution Focused .440
Cognitive/Cognitive Behavioral .091
Table 3.
Structure matrix for curiosity dimensions.
Curiosity Dimensions Function
Absorption .999*
Exploration .381
Table 4.
Group centroids for curiosity dimensions.
Groups Function
Humanistic/Existential .535
Solution Focused –.300
Cognitive/Cognitive Behavioral –.180
learning requires effort, belief that learning requires talent, and
belief in a single truth. The results of the second analysis re-
vealed no significant effects for neither the first ( = .97, 2(6,
N = 154) = 3.16, p > .05), nor the second function ( = .99,
2(2, N = 154) = .216, p > .05) in discriminating participants’
theoretical orientations. Accordingly, epistemological belief
scores did not significantly discriminate between theoretical
Theoretical Orientations
This study revealed that, if listed among the options, the ma-
jority of the third and fourth grade counseling undergraduates
of the two Turkish universities preferred eclectic approach as
their primary theoretical orientation. In addition students highly
preferred cognitive/cognitive behavioral approaches, humanis-
tic/existential approaches and solution focused approaches re-
spectively. These results show much resemblance with the
worldwide trends in theoretical orientations (e.g., Ivey, D’An-
drea, & Ivey, 2012). Studies in this area show that increasing
number of counselors are preferring eclectic/integrative ap-
proaches (Rigazio-DiGilio, 2001). In addition, cognitive be-
havioral approaches became the most preferred theoretical ap-
proach among counselors in the last decade. Although human-
istic approach remains a highly preferred orientation, it rela-
tively lost some popularity in the last decade and fell behind
cognitive approaches. On the contrary, solution focused ap-
proaches are gaining increasing popularity due to practi-
cal/functional considerations (Garfield & Bergin, 1994; Warner,
1991). On the other hand, this study shows that, unlike in the
European and North American context, psychodynamic ap-
proaches are not preferred much among counseling students in
Turkey. Gulerce (2008) remarks cultural issues and scarcity of
training and supervision opportunities as two major underlying
reasons of this tendency. Besides, in Turkey psychological
counseling undergraduates are commonly employed in schools.
Thus, psychoanalysis is less preferred among Turkish under-
graduates due to the practical limitations of the application of
psychoanalytic approaches in school settings. Overall, this
study suggests that the majority of the students adhere to a nar-
row range of orientations and their theoretical preferences re-
flect the counseling trends in the broader context, to a large
Thinking Styles
Our first discriminant analysis revealed that Humanistic/Ex-
istential oriented students differ from solution focused and cog-
nitive/cognitive behavioral oriented students by higher liberal
thinking scores and lower conservative thinking scores. Al-
though there are no studies that directly associate theoretical
orientations and thinking styles, a great deal of researches re-
lates theoretical orientations with different kinds of cognitive
and personal characteristics. One of the results that consistently
appear in those studies is that humanistic oriented individuals
tend to be more open to change and new experiences (e.g.,
Scandell, Wlazelek, & Scandell 1997; Scragg, Bor, & Watts,
1999; Tremblay et al., 1986). They also found to be more flexi-
ble, idealist, and imaginative (Scandell et al., 1997; Tremblay,
et al., 1986). Furthermore, humanistic counselors feel more
comfortable in uncertain situations, and perceive the world as
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
an ever-changing and dynamic place. Humanistic and existen-
tial oriented individuals especially found to score higher in
openness to experience than cognitive behavioral oriented
counselors (e.g., Babbage & Ronan, 2000; Ogunfowora &
Drapeau, 2008; Scandell et al., 1997; Scragg et al., 1999;
Tremblay et al., 1986; Vasco et al., 1993). In line with these
results, cognitive behavioral oriented individuals found to be
more traditional, realistic and prescriptive (Arthur, 2000, 2001;
Heffler & Sandler, 2009; Scragg et al., 1999). In addition, they
tend to feel uncomfortable when faced with uncertainty, give
more importance to conformity and deal more with the practical
results of theoretical approaches than their underlying philoso-
phies (Arthur, 2000, 2001; Poznanski & McLennan, 2003;
Scragg et al., 1999). On the other hand, every single orientation
adopts unique roles, intervention styles and assumptions guid-
ing the counselor. However, some of the approaches have a
richer set of inscribed and well defined techniques and tools
compared to the others. Given this, both solution focused and
cognitive/cognitive behavioral approaches offer a more clearly
defined, detailed and approved framework, which include tools,
techniques and strategies in every stage (see Corey, 2012;
Miller, Hubbel, & Duncan, 1996; Murdock, 2007; Seligman &
Reichenberg, 2010). Thus, students preferring conservative
thinking characterized by an orderly, realistic, and traditional
style would more likely to adopt these two orientations offering
well defined stepwise strategies and prescribed tools. It is pos-
sible that humanistic/existential orientation, which challenges
traditional beliefs about human nature, attracts “unconven-
tional” and “open-minded” individuals (Ogunfowora & Drapeau,
2008). There is not much research on the choice of solution
focused approaches, since it is a relatively new approach and is
not considered among the traditional approaches. Solution fo-
cused approach is one of the major postmodern approaches in
counseling and adopt a client centered, innovative and dynamic
stance (Miller, Hubbel, & Duncan, 1996). On the other hand,
solution focused approach also share similarities with cognitive
approaches with its emphasis on cognitive elements and be-
havior change.
Our second discriminant analysis revealed that Humanis-
tic/Existential oriented students differ from solution focused
and cognitive/cognitive behavioral oriented students by higher
absorption scores. No differences were found in terms of ex-
ploration scores. In his study, Arthur (2001) found that cogni-
tive behaviorists tend to focus on the external, rather than in-
ternal world. In addition, they value quantitative over qualita-
tive information, and thinking over feeling. Walton (1978) as-
serts that cognitive oriented counselors are less interested with
deconstructing and delving into the complex nature of issues,
rather they are interested in taking different perspectives about
the issues. Similarly, in solution focused therapy the focus is
always on what is said by the client, rather than what is unsaid
or implied or unrealized. De Shazer (1994) calls this “to stay on
the surface”. Accordingly, solution focused approach empha-
size the importance of practical and goal-oriented information,
rather than in-depth analysis of information (Miller et al., 1996).
Given these, we assume that individuals, who score low in ab-
sorption, are more likely to prefer cognitive and solution fo-
cused approaches. On the other hand, humanistic/existential
approaches emphasize the importance of delving into the cli-
ents’ phenomenological worlds (Corey, 2012; Rogers, 1980).
These approaches value the analysis of the themes of self, anxi-
ety, freedom, authenticity and the meanings of life and death
within the clients’ universes (Corey, 2012; Seligman & Rei-
chenberg, 2010). Thus, we propose that their emphasis on such
an in-depth phenomenological exploration might have attracted
individuals who scored higher on absorption.
Epistemological Beliefs
Our third discriminant analysis revealed no significant dif-
ferences between theoretical orientations in terms of epistemo-
logical beliefs. We believe that the major rationale for this re-
sult is the relative similarity of the three theoretical orienta-
tions’ beliefs on relativity of the truth and their beliefs on effort
as a source of change. Different theoretical orientations per-
ceive and process knowledge in different ways; however some
of them share more similar premises than the others. Fear and
Woolfe (1999) claim that personal philosophy is reflected in a
counselor’s theoretical approach. Counselors, in general, share
similar values (Consoli & Williams, 1999; Kelly, 1995), and
those with similar values tend to share similar theoretical ap-
proaches as well (Mahalik, 1995). For example, according to
Vasco et al. (1993) behavioral and psychodynamic approaches
contrast humanistic/existential approaches in epistemological
beliefs, while cognitive approaches fall in between. Studies also
suggest that cognitive, humanistic, existential and postmodern
approaches share similar attitudes towards knowledge, such as
relativity of the truth, and distrust in innate, stable characteris-
tics (Brabeck & Welfel, 1985; Consoli & Williams, 1999; Kelly,
1995). Thus, in their evaluation of knowledge, solution focused
approaches adopt a postmodern perspective, humanistic/exis-
tential approaches adopt a Heiddegerian person centered per-
spective, and cognitive approaches adopt a “diverse realities”
perspective, which altogether lead to similar epistemological
There are a few limitations that should be addressed for this
study. First, due to the lack of structured self report scales on
theoretical choices in Turkey, we merely relied on participants’
self reports about their theoretical choices. Further research is
needed to employ reliable assessment tools in order to under-
stand theoretical preferences. Second, study participants were
psychological counseling undergraduates who completed a
course on counseling theories. In order to obtain a more de-
tailed picture of theoretical orientations in Turkey, further re-
search should also address psychological counselors in clinical,
community and school settings. Third, because of the limited
sample size, some of the major theoretical orientations could
not be represented within this study. With larger samples, a
diverse range of theoretical orientations can be represented in
the following studies. Last but not the least, we think that prac-
tical considerations such as, training opportunities, financial
resources and participants’ intended work settings effect their
theoretical preferences. These issues should also be addressed
in further research.
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