Clinical Psychology

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Approaches to Clinical Psychology
PSY 480
October 25, 2010

Approaches to Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychology involves the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses that affect human behavior (Plante, 2005). Of all psychology’s disciplines, clinical psychology is the most intriguing, both for subject matter and diverse employment opportunities. A common thread in clinical psychology is the multiple perspectives that exist to explain how mental processes influence human behavior. The student of clinical psychology will study all perspectives, perhaps landing on a favorite while retaining sufficient knowledge of all (Plante, 2005). Four distinct theoretical positions within clinical psychology include psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, and family systems approaches. Each approach reflects the theory of various icons in psychology’s history and whereas each theory has its pros and cons, the most important element in the clinical setting is the client. Although approaches differ in technique and strategy, providing the optimum experience for the client should transcend preference for one theoretical platform over another. Psychodynamic Approach

Philosophical Origins
The psychodynamic approach to clinical psychology originated from the psychoanalytic theory, which is comprised of four major schools: Freudian, self psychology, object relations, and ego psychology (Compas & Gotlib, 2002). These approaches were invented by renowned psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. Freud proposed the idea that behavioral traits are influenced by the unconscious mind. Goals

The psychodynamic approach is aimed at creating self awareness and an in-depth understanding of the influence of past behavior on current behavioral traits. A psychodynamic approach facilitates the client’s understanding of the effects of unresolved conflicts. This approach is aimed at making the patient understand that some symptoms are the result of past dysfunctional relationships including involvement in the abuse of substances (Compas & Gotlib, 2002). Techniques and Strategies

Some of the techniques employed in the psychodynamic approach include free association and transference. Free association is a tool whereby a patient relays whatever thoughts cross his or her mind during therapy (Compas & Gotlib, 2002). Free association is not preplanned and the outcome of the conversation is non-deterministic. Transference in psychoanalysis involves the patient’s redirection of feelings for someone to the therapist. This unconscious redirection of feelings is aimed at enabling the patient to reflect on the past relationships and then reflect his or her influence on the present occurrences (Compas & Gotlib, 2002). Psychodynamic approach strategy transforms the therapist into patient’s transference object resulting in the patient confiding to the therapist. An example is a patient with extreme personality issues who may present for sessions late or sometimes misses sessions. Through observing such behavior the therapist would then realize that he or she has become the abandoning object to the client. Effectiveness of Psychodynamic Approach

The psychodynamic approach is an effective way to administer psychological treatment to patients. An effective treatment constitutes basing psychiatric techniques with consideration to an understanding of what happens in the patient’s internal world. Research through meta-analysis is used to determine the effectiveness of this approach. A newly released study depicts the overall success rate of the psychodynamic approach showing a correlation between psychotherapy and improved mental and physical health (Routh, 2002). Studies on health care utilization also report reductions in utilization of services due to psychodynamic therapy (Routh, 2002). Cognitive-Behavioral Approach

Philosophical Origins
The cognitive-behavioral approach began in the early...
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