A Brief Comparison of Psychoanalytic and Person-Centered Therapy

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Within the field of counseling and therapy there are endless theoretical stances, each of which develop different perspectives on humanity and establish varying counselor roles. Consideration of the implications of these various orientations is essential in the process of choosing the appropriate therapy for an individual. As an illustration, examine the stark contrast between psychoanalytic therapy and person-centered therapy.

The core of any theoretical approach in psychology lies in the unique interpretation of human nature. Sigmund Freud; founder of the psychoanalytic movement, had an extremely deterministic view of the human experience (Corey, 2009). According to Freud; a combination of unconscious, irrational motivations and instinctual drives that lie outside of one’s conscious control serve as the basis for one’s personality (Corey, 2009). These irrational forces include Eros; the innate “life instinct” responsible for sexual energy and our desire to survive, and Thatanos; the innate “death instinct” responsible for aggression (Burger, 2008). In addition, Freud placed a heavy emphasis on the role of childhood experiences and sexuality in personality development. Psychoanalytic theory asserts that most of the conflict experienced in adulthood is a result of repressed unconscious material from childhood (Burger, 2008).

The psychoanalytic view of human nature is quite contrary to the humanistic outlook. Carl Rogers; founder of the humanistic psychology movement, developed a more optimistic view of human nature. This approach asserts that at the core of each individual lies a “positive center”, which is composed of trustworthiness and capability (Corey, 2009). Person-centered therapy is centered on the belief that people have an innate “actualizing tendency” which drives an individual to strive for growth and personal fulfillment (Corey, 2009). Although past experiences are not ignored in therapy; the emphasis on growth, development, and competence...
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