Types of Therapy

Topics: Psychotherapy, Classical conditioning, Behaviorism Pages: 11 (3589 words) Published: June 18, 2013
Types of Therapy

Amy N. Johnson

Liberty University


This report contains information discussing the different types of therapy and a brief description of each. Professional literature and journals were chosen for research based on their content and relevance. The four main types of therapy were chosen for discussion: psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, and existential. A brief history of therapy is given and the main contributors to each type of therapy are also mentioned in each section.


What we consider to be “modern” psychotherapy began not too long ago- the second half of the 19th century actually. Our first actual psychoanalyst is a name we all know, Sigmund Freud. Since his first proposed theories in the 1890s, the field of psychology has grown leaps and bounds.

In Europe, the Victorian era brought the ideas of religion being a center of living and hard work defining who people were. This era saw four main psychological illnesses, hysteria, neurasthenia, sexual perversion, and violent criminal behavior (murder and rape). (Cushman, 1989). The Victorian’s reasoned that the unconscious mind brought uncontrollable impulses to life in the form of these behaviors and they believed hysteria was a female problem, but the violent behavior and sexual perversion belonged to the men. (Cushman, 1989). In America, this age was a little different because the people leaned more towards industrialization. They actually felt cut off from the land and hard work. Out of this era came hypnotism, but it was termed mesmerism then. The use of medicine started as “tonics” in this era as well. Freud saw these illnesses as uncontrollable impulses, and an American named George Beard reasoned people just got worn out and needed rest and recharged. (Cushman, 1989). Self-help brochures and pamphlets began during this time as well.

In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud developed his theories further and those who believed and followed him would discuss and help to form specific explanations of behavior. With all of his ideas and followers, the theories of Jung and Adler (just to name a few) were formed based on Freud’s original work. All through the first part of the 20th century, psychotherapy was still treated as a medical condition that needed a cure. The idea of counseling was not even an idea yet. The Mental Hygiene movement began in the early part of the century and with this movement came the idea to “cleanse” the unconscious of the mind. (Cushman, 1989). This movement also got rid of the idea that people who were not socially acceptable were not bad people; they were sick and needed mental cleansing. This way of thinking removed religion as a cure, and focused on improving people’s internal morals. After World War I, this movement boomed and the early roots of PTSD evaluation and diagnosis took root.

In this paper, we will touch on the types of therapy that emerged from this early work. The four main orientations of therapy were broken down into four categories in the 1950s; psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, and existential. (Clinton, 2002). Since then, humanistic and existential have been grouped together and family and systems approach took the fourth place. (Clinton, 2002). Of course, these main four can also be broken down, but we will discuss these main ones, and mention the sub groups within them. Breaking down therapy into different types is key to treatment. Not everyone learns the same, nor can they be treated the same. What is good for one client may be useless to another. Without having a direction and studies and literature for us as counselors to understand, therapy would do no help.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is based on the idea of figuring out the deep meaning behind behaviors, and then working on ways to change. Whatever behavior is causing the client to come in for counseling is examined and a...

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