Approaches to Clinical Psychology

Essay by Shawn1969A+, February 2010

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In the field of clinical psychology four major approaches are used to understand human behavior and to formulate plans for research, assessment, and treatment. Psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic and family systems theories are all commonly used to treat emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal problems. This paper will examine each of the four major approaches, including the philosophical origins, goals, and specific techniques and strategies used in treatment by each approach.

The Psychodynamic ApproachThe Psychodynamic Approach began with Sigmund Freud. Although Sigmund Freud started this approach, many Freudians as well as neo-Freudians have changed, adapted, and broadened the psychodynamic view. Some of the other contributors to the psychodynamic approach were: Erik Erikson, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, and Carl Jung. The goal of psychodynamic approach is to understand the unconscious factors leading to problematic feelings, thoughts, and behavior, also called insight. Another goal of this approach is to work through insights to improve daily functioning.

Understanding and analyzing defensiveness and resistance to treatment is a third goal of psychodynamic therapy (Jordan, 2009).

The working through process involves a deep look at the role of unconscious wishes, drives, impulses, and conflicts in everyday life. Techniques such as free association, dream analysis and interpretation, and the analysis of transference as well as everyday thoughts, feelings, and behavior are used to help understand and treat various problems. An example of a treatment strategy associated with the psychodynamic approach is free association. Free association encourages the patient to state whatever is on his or her mind without filtering or consequence. This technique allows the patient to find a safe place and a trusting atmosphere in the therapist's office, where the patient can speak freely without embarrassment. Another technique used with psychodynamic therapy is defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms are strategies developed by the ego to protect the person from...