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Developmental Counseling and Therapy in Application

Developmental Counseling and Therapy (DCT) is a novel approach to counseling patients that seeks to understand and help individuals grow and reform. It was developed by Allen Ivey and focuses on the uniqueness of every patient, facilitation of development and growth, cultural components of education and upbringing, encouragement of positive change, and the increase in overall wellness through counseling and therapy (Myers et al., 2002). The metatheory incorporates several other theories and approaches into a specific system that revolves around ancient philosophy as well as the meta paradigms of Piaget (Myers et al., 2002). It provides clinicians with tools to assess the issues found in their clients and apply appropriate tools to facilitate successful outcomes.

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The main character in the film titled “Forrest Gump” has several clear indications of mental and developmental deficiencies. Although the film or its creators never speculate about what is the diagnosis of Gump, it is possible to highlight some of the major issues, those being poor attention span, logical and cognitive issues, behavioral defects, and erratic movements when walking or running (Zemeckis, 1994). Some of the symptoms suggest cerebral palsy triggered by mental and physiological issues Gump had from birth (low IQ, spinal curvature) (Zemeckis, 1994).DCT can be applied to him in order to appropriately approach the issue and choose the treatments that would best address his disorders (Ivey & Rigazio-Digilio, 2009).

Human development is important in counseling because it is a natural part of treatment in general (Myers et al., 2002). When a counselor helps a person overcome barriers and issues, they facilitate their growth as an individual. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms of personal growth is important not only for the facilitation of appropriate treatments but also for the experience of long-term growth in a patient (Myers et al., 2002). It plays the role of an underlying framework behind the entire practice of DCT.

Returning to the subject of Forrest Gump, the symptoms he presented in the film include sensorimotor and elemental responses to situations. The young man typically does not think things through, which is the reason he ends up in a multitude of unpleasant situations (Zemeckis, 1994). These habits followed him throughout his life and were further reinforced by his abusive childhood during his school years (Zemeckis, 1994). Based on these findings, had I been their future clinician, I would have utilized the sensorimotor approach. Its strengths lie in the ability to experience emotion and cognition in here and now, thus helping address the irrationality of certain thoughts and reflective responses to situations (Ivey &Rigazio-Digilio, 2009). Some of the methods suggested by this type of treatment include body-oriented work, imagery, relaxation training, meditation, gestalt exercises, and hypnosis (Ivey &Rigazio-Digilio, 2009).

The key takeaway from the developmental film conceptualization exercises is that they could serve as locomotives for increasing the acceptance and awareness of struggles in people who are affected by various developmental disorders. The realistic representation of diseases on the screen allows for speculation in regard to diagnosis and potential treatment methods. DCT is a flexible and well-formulated framework that could be applied to the situation in which Forrest Gump found himself in. Had therapy been more widely available to the general population during the time demonstrated in the movie, the young man would not have had to go through so many struggles in his life on his own. Although he lived a relatively fulfilling life, few put in his situation end up as well-off as he did.


Ivey, A. E., &Rigazio-Digilio, S. A. (2009). Developmental counseling and therapy: The basics of why it may be helpful and how to use it. Turkish Psychological Counseling and Guidance Journal, 4(32), 1-11

Myers, J. E., Shoffner, M, & Briggs, M. (2002). Developmental counseling and therapy: An effective approach to understanding and counseling children. Professional School Counseling, 5, 194-202.

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Zemeckis, R. (1994). Forrest Gump[Film]. Wendy Finerman Productions.

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