Critical Analysis of Three Psychotherapy Approaches: Client-Centered Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy

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Critical Analysis of Three Psychotherapy Approaches:
Client-Centered Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy Midterm SWG 598 Bridge I

Introduction

As social workers, it is our responsibility to use the most effective method of practice to engage our clients, assess their situation, and help them create goals that will produce positive outcomes. Every client will present a unique set of challenges; therefore, the social worker must be careful in choosing an approach that will meet the client’s needs, compliment the skills of the therapist and are in line with the agency’s mission. According to Robert and Watkins (2009), psychotherapy is a therapeutic interaction between a trained therapist and a client that is used to treat adjustment problems and personal growth issues. The following psychotherapy approaches are three widely used in social work today: client centered therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychodynamic theory. In addition, this essay will explore how each approach is used in the context of engagement, assessment, goals and interventions, termination, interpersonal skills, and ethical issues. The training film “Three Approaches to Psychotherapy” (Shostrom, 1965) was also viewed to observe how different therapist utilized these three approaches.

Client-Centered Therapy

Client-centered therapy developed by Carl Rogers is a rational, nondirective approach in which the role of the therapist is not to offer a direct intervention or advice, but to help the client focus on their inner resources to resolve their own problems. In addition, the therapist uses self-awareness in relationship to the client in order to help them feel whole and experience personal growth (Shostrom, 1965a). Client-centered therapy does not explore the unconscious because the therapist wants to keep the client in the “here and now”. Client-centered therapy is unlike other theories in that it is not based on stages of development or specific steps, but on the therapist’s ability to create an experience of unconditional love. Rogers believed the following three core conditions must be in place in order for therapeutic change to take place: congruency, unconditional positive regard, and empathy (Robert and Watkins, 2009). If the therapist consistently displays these characteristics the client is most likely to move toward self-acceptance and find the solution within them to solve their current issues.

A variety of helping behaviors can be utilized to engage and assess the client. Every therapist will bring their own uniqueness and skill level to the session, however, when using the client-centered approach the therapists must function with empathy, genuineness, and respect. The goal of the assessment process is to gain a better understanding of the client’s presenting problem and to learn what positive changes they would like to see as a result of their time with the therapist. Several conversational tools were used to support the core conditions of client-centered therapy in the film Three Approaches to Psychotherapy. For example “I sure wish I could give you the answer”, “I’m not sure” and “I hope” are all examples of non-expert language Rogers used with Gloria (Shostrom, 1965). Rogers intentionally used non-expert language to display his inability to decide for Gloria what was best for her. It also conveyed unconditional positive regard by respecting Gloria as the expert on herself. Another tool used by Rogers was silence. Utilizing silence offers the client a chance to reflect on what they have said and perhaps find deeper meaning in their life. Transference is essential to client-centered therapy because it gives the client the opportunity to replicate the problems they are having with a loved one with the therapist without the reaction or consequence they would normally receive from the actual person. This gives the client the opportunity to manage the conflict they are experiencing in a safe,...
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