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A multiple intelligences approach to counselling: Enhancing alliances with a focus on strengths



Counselling clients display many ways of reflecting and communicating within therapy. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI), while applied widely in the field of education, has only recently been introduced into the field of counselling. MI has the potential to support flexible responses to client’s particular preferences. This presentation is based on Mark’s PhD research on the impact of introducing MI theory and practice in counselling.


Recent research highlights the positive impact from modifying treatment in response to individual client needs and interests. Gaining information on clients’ preferred intelligences, or MI strengths, enhances counsellors’ ability to tailor their ways of working to meet individual client strengths, and can provide a meta-theory to underpin eclectic practice.

The major themes from counsellors participating in Mark’s research, trialing a MI approach to counselling, included: enhancement of therapeutic alliances, more effective practice, clients responding positively to a strength-based approach, increased professional comfort, positive outcomes from the use of music, and the emergence of new therapeutic options.

Mark will share his research outcomes and the practical ways in which therapy can be offered in response to individual client preferences. Come and learn about your own MI strengths, and new ways to use MI theory in practice.


Ph.D., M. Ed.(BEM); Dip T.; Cert HB & TP; Dip. ERC.

Mark has been conducting training courses in Expressive Therapies around Australia since 1989. He has completed further studies in Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Dr Stanislav Grof, and holds a Masters in Education, majoring in behaviour management, and a PhD, researching multiple intelligence theory in counselling. Mark has over 20 year’s experience as a counsellor, and lectured in counselling at the University of Notre Dame Australia, the University of Adelaide, and is currently Counselling Program Coordinator at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. He is the Director of the Expressive Therapies Institute of Australia.

Mark is the co-author of Emotional First-Aid For Children (1991), Emotional Release For Children (2004), Sandplay & Symbol Work (2001), and Using Expressive Arts to Work with Mind, Body and Emotion (2009). He is also the author of Emotional Healing & Self-Esteem – Inner-Life Skills for Children and Adolescents (2004) and for adults: From Healing To Awakening (1991) and The Healing Journey (1997). He is the author of the multiple intelligence groupwork program for schools and agencies: The Innerspace Program – Emotional Literacy for Student Wellbeing and Resilience (2006). See his books and peer-reviewed articles at

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