Throughout history, people have strived to determine the origin of mental illness. Since the19th
century psychologists have debated the issue, which eventually led to the development of
psychological theories. At the fore front of these developments was Freud who essentially saw
mental illness arising from childhood trauma and such trauma could be cured by the encouraging
the client to recal past experiences.
In the first half of this essay I will describe and compare both Psychodynamic and Cognitive-
behavioural approaches, before contrasting the differences between both psychological practices.
Psychodynamic counselling is defined as a "Psychological approach that emphasizes unconscious
dynamics within the individual, instinctual Psychodynamic perspective is mostly centered on inner
conflicts and how such conflicts affect development through out life. Sigmund Freud founded the
general basis of this theory, believing that inner conflicts will normally arise from childhood and
can often lead to mental illness. This is done by impeding the balanced development of the three
systems that constitute the human Psyche. These three systems are the ID, which is the innate
sexual and aggressive drives; the ego, which is the conscious part of the brain that mediates
between reality and unconscious, and finally the super ego, this controls primitive impulses of the
Id and can represents moral ideals.
Many psychologists believe that mental disorders are the direct result of psychodynamic conflicts
that cannot be dealt with by the clients own coping mechanism; they do not satisfy both the
superego and the ID. For some people these internal mechanisms are insufficient. This in turn
often leads to illness. The psychodynamic approach still believes that solutions lie in child hood
and the clients are not aware of their real motivation.
It is worth mentioning that Cognitive-behavioural is an umbrella term as it coprises several
different approaches. cognitive-behaviour therapy is the psychological approach that emphasizes
in mental processes, “Socratic” thinking, language, problem solving, and pathways of thinking
which affect us on a day to day basis and also by observing visible behaviour. Although cognitive
therapy can be traced to the origins of psychology it is still relatively new. There have been
significant points that over lap and influence both cognitive and behavioural therapies this can be
see in the works of (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979). The cognitive-behavioural aproach consists
of a wide variety of techniques such as home work assignments, self-monitoring , relaxation
exercises and relapse prevention.
'Psychodynamic' or 'Freudian' methods utilise a close careful interaction with client and his/her
psyche, which of necessity involves the client reliving early trauma.
Whereas the more recent developments in 'cognitive-behavioural' therapy tend to avoid how the
problem developed historically and emphasises how the problem can be alterd and improved in
As the study of the human mind progressed different theories and treatments evolved, some of
which involved the analyst or therapist interviewing and interreacting with the client to effect a
cure. One main method used to this end is “free association” or as Freud and his mentor and co-
worker Breuener coined it the “talking cure”. In this technique the clients speak for themselves
and are encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings. One could say that 'free association'
was the first instrument for the scientific examination of the human mind. Cognitve-behavioural
method, as in the “talking cure”, has one key feature, which is the...
References: *Freud,S.(1917/1979) 'The case of Dora ', Pelican Freud Library Vol; 8 Case History I, Harmonsworth Penguin.
*Beck,A. (1979) Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders, Harmondsworth, Penguin.
*Cognitive Therapy of Depression: Aaron T. Beck, A. John Rush, Brian F. Shaw and Gary Emery, Guilford Press, New York, 1979, 425 pp.
*Jung, C.G. (1963) Menoriies, Dreams, Reflections (ed. A. Jaffe), New York, NY,Pantheon Books.
*D,G. Myers. Exploring Psychology + Psychinquiry 7 Macmillan Higher Education, 2008
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