Compare and Contrast Psychoanalytic and Person-Centered Therapies

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Compare and Contrast: Psychoanalytic and Person-Centered Therapies

Leslie A. White

Central Missouri State University

`The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the differences and similarities associated with Carl Roger’s Client-centered theory and Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory. The focus of the comparisons will fall into the three main topic areas: that of optimal personality development, that of the nature of problem formation, and that of the process of learning and change.

The two theorists differ in approach in that Psychoanalytic theory is basically deterministic while Person-Centered therapy is rooted in humanistic and existential philosophies. Freud concurred that behavior was determined by both unconscious motivators and through instinctual drives that evolved during the first six years of life (Corey, 1996). The deterministic view focuses on the belief that past experiences unconsciously are reflected in present behaviors. Freud proposed that only after the client gained insight into the unconscious could he or she operate by choice rather than that of habit (Corey, 1996).

Person-Centered therapy is more humanistic in nature and has some traits associated with existentialism, apparent in the lack a specific set of techniques. A difference between the humanistic view and the deterministic view is that humanism is based on the concept that the client has the freedom to make conscious choices and will automatically grow in positive ways (Corey, 1996). The deterministic philosophy assumes that behavior is driven by a source of unconscious motivation. Optimal Personality Development

Psychoanalytic personality development revolves around the idea that human functioning is motivated by unconscious drives. These instinctual drives, called the life and death instincts, are sexual and aggressive drives that humans feel an innate need to satisfy. According to Freud, revolves around the idea that human functioning is motivated by unconscious drives. These instinctual drives, called the life and death instincts, are sexual and aggressive drives that humans feel an innate need to satisfy. (Corey, 1996). Anxiety, a state of tension caused by conflict between the id, ego, and superego, can serve as another source of motivation. Rogers proposed that humans have an innate need to become self-actualized (Corey 1996). The self-actualizing tendency, or growth process, occurs when the client learns to trust the inner value system. This internal knowledge, known as the organismic valuing system (OVS), is the motivation for all behavior. When an individual works in concert with the organismic valuing system, only then can he or she enhance individual being and encourage growth. To work in harmony with the OVS is to assure that humans have nothing to fear of other humans. Roger’s view of innate needs differs from that of Freud in the concept of innate human needs. Roger’s supports the belief that humans gravitate toward an innate need to become self-actualized. This innate need is grounded in the facets of humanism and freedom of choice. Freud suggests that the human innate need is more biological in nature, and that humans operate from the satisfaction of unconscious instinctual drives. `Freud’s view of human motivation shows similarities to Rogers view of the growth process only in that the goal of the human is to survive and grow, and that both rely on a basic instinct in some regard. Freud acknowledges the life and death biological instincts. In comparison, Roger’s proposed OVS is instinctual in nature, in that it is a motivator that an individual may deny or inadvertently ignore, but still serves to direct behavior. Psychoanalytic theory is unique from any other theory in that it identifies three specific personality structures: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id serves as the main source of energy and operates on the...
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