Psychoanalysis, Adlerian and Existential Therapies
Cpm 501, Union Institute and University
Dr. Scott Rice
Psychoanalytic, Adlerian and Existential approaches are three modalities of therapy worthy of discussion in terms of their similarities and differences. While the latter two owe much to the work of Dr. Freud in terms of germination, their development stands in large part as a reaction to the beliefs and practices that had come to dominate the world of therapy as an outgrowth of the writing and work of Freud.
Briefly, psychoanalysis is based on the notion that we are determined by certain factors that lead to our happiness or unhappiness. Freud stands as one of the constructors of the world of psychology as we know it today, even if some of his ideas seem antiquated in a world where gender politics and basic attention to human equality (hopefully) mean more to us. Id, ego and superego and their relationships between themselves form the basis of the philosophy that informs the approach Dr. Freud took
Freud views human nature as deterministic and driven by irrational forces, unconscious motivations and biological and instinctual drives that evolve through key psychosexual stages in the first years of our life (Corey, 2103, p. 58). Freud has conceived the constructs of the Id the Ego and the Superego to define the basic tendencies, motivations and defense mechanisms of personality and succeeded in creating a theory of
In psychoanalysis, the therapeutic goal is to ”increase the role of functioning“ (Corey, 2013) by bringing the unconscious to the conscious and to strengthen the ego so that behavior is based more on reality and less on the instinctual or irrational guilt. In this context the idea of really unpacking all that psychoanalysis represents in terms of practice and influence is totally untouchable.
However, the idea of the classic “laying on the couch” is important to this type of approach and this is a long term approach and as the client lays in this repose and reveals to the therapist his desires, memories and dreams and feelings in sometimes random association and the therapist acts as a sort of unchanged catalyst in the process. There is not a great deal of room here to discuss the notion of transference and counter-transference, but there is much to be noted regarding how a clients, with the help of the therapist encounters deep emotional childhood experiences both positive and negative and brings them to the fore. Alfred Adler, an associate of Freud, spent a period of time subscribing to the teachings and beliefs of Freud and when he broke from him there was a marked difference between the two philosophies. Adler, in his approach, believes that humans are driven by a desire to belong and to live meaningful lives. He broke with Freud as the result of his contention that people can change along mental and emotional lines and that the hardened sort o of determinism Freud espoused had was not necessarily helpful. He believed that humans are motivated by their desire to succeed in a social context rather than by what he felt were the narrowing constructs and sexual urges often evoked in Freud’s theory. In the Adlerian view, there is little more meaningful in the treatment to the client than the client’s subjective take on the world and further, the establishment of goals and purpose in a person’s life as the key drivers for behavior. As Corey notes, Adler “replaced (Freud’s) deterministic explanations with teleological (purposive, goal oriented) ones (Corey, 97). “ While it is important to note that Adlerian therapy is mostly concerned with the achievement of goal and seeking to belong there is the sense that the placement of importance on birth order harkens back to the determinism of Freud. The view of human nature, therefore, is one of desire for progress through increasing one’s place within social setting,...
References: Adler, Alfred. (1923). The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology. London: Routledge and Keegan Paul, LTD
Corey, Gerald. (2013). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Dehli: Cengage Publishing
Fromm, Ehrich. (1941). Escape from Freedom. New York: Farrar and Rinehart
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