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Counselling & Psychology

What are the difference between directive, non directive and eclectic counselling


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What are the Difference Between Directive, Non-Directive and Eclectic Counselling

The three major counselling processes used in therapy are directive, non-directive and eclectic counselling. Every method is distinctive. The main differentiator is the degree of participation by the patient here. Although directive and non-directive counselling are the most widely used methods, eclectic counselling is also rising in popularity. In this blog, we will discuss the difference between directive and non-directive counselling as well as eclectic counselling.

What is Directive Counselling?

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Directive Counselling is a treatment approach in which the psychotherapist is in charge of the treatment. The psychotherapist acts as the course director. They decide how the therapy sessions will go on, basically dictating-

  1. The direction
  2. Pace
  3. The course
    • Analysis
    • Synthesis
    • Diagnosis
    • Prognosis
    • Prescription
  4. End of the therapy sessions
  5. Follow-ups

Three Step Plan

To influence the decision-making of their client or patient, they follow a three-step plan. They-

  1. Asks questions on themes of their choosing
  2. Analyses the client’s replies or viewpoints
  3. Proposes measures or solutions to influence the client’s or patient’s decision-making

So, the counsellor takes an active role in this counselling. The decision to play an active role is seen as a way of assisting people in learning to address their own difficulties.

As the counsellor conducts everything himself in this type of counselling, this form of counselling is known by another name: Counsellor-centered counselling.

How to Recognise What Type of Counselling You’re Receiving?

So, is there a way to recognise if you’re being subjected to a directive therapy session? Yes, there is. There are certain characteristics by which you can tell what type of counselling you’re receiving.

  1. You’ll immediately notice that during the interview with the counsellor, the focus is on a specific problem and possible solutions.
  2. The counsellor will take a more active role in the interview than the client.
  3. To make sure that the patient makes a decision that is consistent with their diagnosis, the counsellor does everything possible at their disposal. Although the counsellor doesn’t dictate the decision-making part, they can only suggest, and ultimately, the client makes the decision.
  4. The counsellor attempts to direct the counsellee’s or client’s thinking by informing, explaining, interpreting, and guiding them.

The counsellor is the process’s fulcrum and leader. He does the majority of the problem-solving and talking. The individual is not the focus.

On the other hand, the counselee works for the counsellor rather than with him. The counsellor strives to shape the counselee’s or client’s thinking by informing, explaining, interpreting, and occasionally advising. Finally, the counsellor gathers all available information on the clients or counselees and analyses it for a complete picture. Finally, they summarise and organise the data in order to comprehend the clients’ talents and limitations, as well as their adjustment and maladjustment.

The counsellor comes to conclusions regarding the nature and origins of the patient’s issues and foresees how these difficulties will progress in the future. They prescribe what the client should do to solve their problems and follow the consequences or effects of their prescription. Because the counsellor prescribes the client’s answers or plan of action, directive counselling is also known as prescriptive counselling.

A cartoonish illustration of a young lady consulting with her young male consultant with a notebook in his hand.

Steps of Directive Counselling

Counsellors approach directive counselling through a five-step process. These are:

  1. Analysis
  2. Synthesis
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Prognosis
  5. Prescription


In analysis, data is gathered from many sources to understand the client thoroughly. These sources, however, are specific to the patient. Every patient is different. So the sources that will draw an accurate picture of the patient also varies from person to person.


This process entails categorising and summarising the data. Counsellors go through the synthesis to determine the patient’s assets, liabilities, and other financial information. This process also reveals what adjustments the patient made to cope with life and their failure to cope with the demands of a typical social environment.


This step is mainly about forming conclusions about the nature and causes of the issues expressed by the participants.


This phase entails projecting how the client’s problem will develop in the future.


This step entails the counsellor working with the client to make changes in their lives. When we talk about counselling sessions, this step is what we usually envision.0

But, as you can see, it is only a link in a chain of plans that counsellors follow to identify problems that their clients face and come up with a solution.


Follow-up entails assisting and determining the counselling’s efficacy.

Young man attending a therapy session with a female therapist while lying on a couch.

What is Non-Directive Counselling?

A non-directive counselling, on the other hand, is one in which the client or patient sets the agenda and the therapist functions as a follower or tracker. The patient expresses themselves on themes that interest them. Instead of trying to address the patient’s problems by giving counsel and ideas, the therapist observes and strives to create advantageous settings for the patient to work out his issues.

The counselee or client rather than the counsellor is at the centre of this form of counselling. They take an active position in the process, and this form of counselling is, in fact, a continuous growing process for the patient. Rather than solving the problem, the purpose of this counselling is to help the client gain independence and integration back into society.

The counsellor and the counselee form a bond based on mutual trust, acceptance, and understanding. The counselee divulges every detail regarding their issues without any fear that they will be judged.

Before making a final decision, the counsellor aids their clients in analysing, synthesising, and diagnosing their challenges. They also lent a hand in predicting the future growth of their problems, deciding on a solution to the problems, and analysing the strengths and repercussions of the solutions.

This style of counselling is also known as “permissive” counselling since the counselee is allowed the freedom to talk about their difficulties and come up with a solution.

Steps of Non-Directive Counselling

  1. As the counselee, the individual seeks assistance.
  2. The counsellor explains the situation by stating that they do not have the answer, but they can create a space and an environment in which the client can come up with answers or solutions to their problems.
  3. The therapist is approachable, engaged, and promotes the individual’s open expression of feelings about their problem.
  4. The counsellor strives to comprehend the individual’s or client’s feelings.
  5. The counsellor accepts and acknowledges both happy and negative emotions.
  6. A steady development of insight follows the period of release or free expression.
  7. As the client acknowledges and accepts their own feelings and desires on an emotional and intellectual level, they perceive the decisions they must make and the options available to them.
  8. Positive measures toward resolving the problem circumstance start to take shape.
  9. The customer wishes to discontinue the contract since the need for assistance has lessened.

Certified female therapist taking notes from the session with her female client in the office.

What is Eclectic Counselling?

Eclectic counselling is a mix of the directive and non-directive techniques that are used depending on the scenario. This counselling style is best defined by the counsellor’s freedom to utilise whichever processes or strategies appear to be the most appropriate at any given time for any given client. This type of counselling occurs when someone is willing to try any method that seems promising, even if their theoretical bases are vastly different.

This counselling method acknowledges that both directive and non-directive approaches to counselling may contain some truth. Practical necessity justifies taking precedence over orthodoxy as long as a final decision between theories cannot be made.

The counsellor in this counselling may begin with a directorial approach, but if the case necessitates it, the counsellor will convert to a non-directive approach. They can also start with a non-directive approach and then move to a directive approach if the scenario requires it.

So, in this counselling, the counsellor uses directive and non-directive counselling, as well as any other sort that may be considered effective for changing the counsellee’s views and attitudes. As a result, depending on the needs of the scenario, the counsellor might switch between directive and non-directive strategies.

Steps of Eclectic Counselling

  1. Counseling methods may vary from one counselee to the next or even from one client to the next.
  2. The key to this counselling is flexibility.
  3. Both the counsellor and the client have the freedom of choice and expression.
  4. The customer and the philosophical framework are tweaked to suit the relationship’s goals.
  5. Mutual confidence and trust in the connection are essential.
  6. It’s critical to have a sense of security for the client.

A cartoonish illustration of a group therapy session among some women suffering from psychological issues.

Difference Between Directive, Non-Directive and Eclectic Counselling

As stated before, similarities between directive and non-directive counselling end when it comes to the question of who’s dictating the pace of the therapy sessions.

When the therapist directs the therapeutic process, it is known as directive therapy. When you give cognitive behavioural therapy, for example, you are giving the client directions for dealing with the problem as well as assisting them in practising specific procedures. However, the client takes the lead in non-directive therapy.

So, the difference between directive and non-directive approaches is the approach itself, as they are considered to be on different sides of the guidance pole. Eclectic counselling is a method of bridging the gap between the two and adjusting directive and non-directive strategies.

If you want to learn more, here is an excellent course on counselling. However, you can also choose to do a diploma in counselling too as it will significantly benefit your counselling career.


What is non-directive counselling?

A therapy session is non-directive when the direction, pace and such are dictated by the patient.

What are the 3 types of counselling?

Directive and non-directive counselling are the major types in counselling, with eclectic counselling being the third type.

What is non-directive counselling in education?

Counselling in education is really no different than any other sector. However, counsellors in education sometimes help out students in choosing their career paths in addition to looking after their mental health.

What is another word for non-directive?

The non-directive style of counselling is also known as “permissive” counselling.

Difference between directive and non-directive counselling?

In directive counselling, the pace and such of the therapy sessions are dictated by the counsellor. It’s vice versa in non-directive counselling.


So, the difference between directive and non-directive counselling is who is in the driving seat of the whole counsel session. If it’s the client, then it is non-directive. On the other hand, when the counsellor is in the driving seat, it is called directive counselling. Eclectic counselling is a mix of the two.

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