Four Major Approaches to Clinical Psychology

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There are many approaches to clinical psychology; the four major approaches are in psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, and family systems. Using the four major approaches contributes to the effectiveness in treatment by identifying the goals of each approach. The paper will break down the approaches, goals, techniques, and the overall approaches used.

Philosophical Origins of Clinical Psychology ApproachesAs Thomas Plante (2005) cleverly suggested, clinical psychology is both a science and an art. Scientific research and inquiry helps establish appropriate and effective therapies just as clinical experience allows for improvement in design and implementation (Plante, 2005). One of the primary aspects of clinical psychology is that it encompasses a myriad of treatment approaches and activities. Since clinical psychology has evolved to a standard that understands the importance of individualized and holistic treatment, it is interesting to examine the philosophical origins of each approach. Philosophy has been defined as the relative analysis and interpretation of values and standards, which is also psychological territory (Heath, 2003), though philosophy and psychology parted ways in the nineteenth century to make way for more logical and mathematical approaches. The origin and influence of philosophy on psychological methods is still detectable through observing the psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, and family system approaches to clinical psychology.

The psychodynamic approach was influenced strongly by psychological epitomes like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. For instance, Carl Jung concentrated on spiritual influences and the collective unconscious, which both offer ties to philosophical origins. Another correlation of philosophy utilized in the psychodynamic approach is the analysis of dreams, transference, and insightful resistance to understand human motives, drives, and other unconscious energies (Plante, 2005). The next method is the cognitive behavioral approach, which is founded on educational and experimental directives. The cognitive behavioral approach is a more systematic method compared with philosophical tactics of times past. Philosophy continues to be an important aspect of clinical psychology because it deals with the basic underlying issues such as the mind and body connection as well as the process of human thinking, which is foundational to cognitive behavioral therapy (Thagard, 2007).

The desire to be significant along with reliable methods of solution to problems offers clarity and meaning to people, which are the prime association between the humanistic approach and clinical psychology, the next approach. Just as understanding human nature requires the examination of the sciences such as biology, chemistry, social sciences, psychology, etc, philosophy also requires interpretation involving each of these sciences (Lamont, 1997). Human nature dictates that socializing is a distinguishing factor of being human, so searching for causes of behavior, as seen in family systems theories also involves philosophical approaches. The family unit is a delicate balance, a collection of individuals that has deep ritualistic connotations that can help an individual to create their own unique identity through pulling from a variety of sources. A strong connection can be seen between philosophy and psychology when realizing that each serves to draw upon the knowledge and values that are relevant to the problem.

Identify the goals of each approach.

During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, many new treatment and intervention approaches and perspectives were offered as an alternative to the traditional psychodynamic approach. Psychologists were becoming well established in their psychotherapy skills in addition to their testing services. The family systems, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and humanistic approaches to intervention emerged as compelling and popular alternatives to...
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