Mental disorder, tentatively referred to as abnormality, has been a core problem in the human race, and it has been very difficult to avoid value judgments in the determination of psychological abnormalities. Further, psychological abnormality has been an essential health issue in tandem to physical abnormality. For years, variety of treatment for mental disorders has been brought forth, and a plethora of approaches and frameworks formulated to help ameliorate such conditions (Totton, 2010). Humanistic and psychodynamic therapies serve as august examples of therapeutic models in psychological approaches to mental health and distress.
This is an approach formulated in the early 1940s and 1950s by theorists; Carl Rodgers and Abraham Maslow (Totton, 2010). The therapy is a form of psychotherapy, majorly concerned with unconscious processes and internal conflicts. In addition to this, the focus on the client’s subjective conscious experience is also taken into consideration when dealing with the therapy (Rathus, 2008). The unconsciousness is depicted as a positive entity, with all the possibilities of exploration and elements of development enhanced through self-reflection, conversation and writing. The conscious or the unconscious state of mind can be integrated, through variable facets of holistic approach of an individual; emotions, behavior, cognitions and sensations, to encourage freedom, control and autonomy. According to Totton (2010), there are three categories of humanistic therapy; Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis therapy and client-centred therapy-often described as counseling rather than psychotherapy, all of which sharing in the role of the therapist; creating a self-actualization environment for the client often described by what they not supposed to do during the therapeutic process. For instance the therapists are not allowed to ask leading questions or focus on the clients past history. The client on the other hand is served with a role of presenting the all the internal conflicts by defining and relating them to each other thereby understanding their experiences.
Gestalt therapy originated in the work of a disaffected psychoanalyst Fritz Perls. The therapy is drawn from the Gestalt psychology that considers human perception and action as a series of meaningful information and responses. Further, it delineates the urge and importance of enabling a spontaneous, contactual and responsive attitude to life, uninhibited by internalized commands or beliefs and rigid defensive strategies (Totton, 2010). The practice of this therapy is centred in bringing the client back into contact with here-and-now experience. Similarly, it presents the client with opportunity for practical exploration of their process, and self-realization through directed awareness, avoiding all forms of systems and structures (Totton, 2010).
Transactional analysis therapy applies the use of structures and systems, and it seeks to specialize in the creation of memorable systematizations. The therapy is largely interested in learning and recognition of different ego-states in an individual and others (Totton, 2010). Carl Rogers, on the other hand, developed client-centred therapy, and the main objective of this therapy was to provide a clear insight on the portions or characters disowned by an individual so as to create a perception or feeling of being whole (Rathus, 2008). The therapy creates a warm therapeutic ambience that animates self-expression and self-exploration. In the same light, the therapy is non-directive and endowed with the following characteristics; empathy, genuineness and unconditional positive regards. Rathus (2008) still affirms that self-acceptance enables the client to make adequate choices, which builds on the unique potential of the client. Consequently, self-acceptance and self-esteem can be nurtured through therapist’s acceptance.
The strength of the humanistic therapy is highly attributed to its culture of ongoing clinical supervision and client’s development of rich potential and resources through the exploration of choices. In conjunction to this, the therapy utilizes active listening that facilitates the building of counselor-client relationship, and it offers the provision of better conditions and foundations that amounts to a good self-actualization (Totton, 2010). However, the humanistic therapy ignores the unconscious process of client, and it emphasizes too much in awareness, which is counterproductive in that the distressed patient may be over-aware of the condition (Fincham, n.d).
The therapy originates from Freud’s system of psychoanalysis. The main objective of the therapy was to gain insight, evinced through the revealing of unconscious conflicts that were root of mental disorder to consciousness, and to strengthen the ego’s control over the id and super ego (Fincham, n.d). The procedures involved in this therapy are intensive, and they fully dwelt on aspects like free association and interpretation of dreams. The therapists major on aspects like relationship formed by the patient, interpretation of patient’s behavior and any observable transference, resistance as the key cause of change, and the mainstay ideology to treatment (Rathus, 2008).
Most of the psychological disorders are determined by an individual’s history in contemporary to the evinced emotional experience outside the conscious awareness, and the normal development abilities were disrupted by the negative emotional experiences. Treatment based on this therapy largely focuses on the difficult facets that are located in the unconscious, and the efforts to make the patient more autonomous (Summers & Barber, 2010). Worth noting is the fact that the therapist play a pivotal role of helping the client come into a contact with their feeling and thoughts. The clients role is therefore to bring back there unconscious content of thoughts in the presence of the therapist.
According to Summers and Barber (2010), there are essential features of psychodynamic therapy, in the current practice that enable better practice of the therapy, and they include; frequent sessions, emphasis on uncovering painful effects, painful experiences, use of exploratory, interpretative, supportive interventions, and the application of wide range of techniques with varied variability. These features provide the definition of the modern psychodynamic therapy that is less intense and briefer. Similarly, it focuses on revealing unconscious material and breaking through psychological defense (Rathus, 2008).
Psychodynamic treatment derives its importance from its briefer and less intense procedures (Rathus, 2008). In addition to this, the treatment offered is always available, specifically for patients who have neither enough time nor money for long-term therapy. Similarly, the therapists are usually directive, dwell more on helpful behavior than insight, and concentrate more on the ego as the executive or the key aspect of personality, with less emphasis on id and super ego (Rathus, 2008). However, the therapy does not focus on sexuality or transference, but centers largely on emotional based factors. The old psychodynamic procedures are also expensive and only available to those who can afford private practice. In line with this, the therapy also involves recording of bulk report with less reflection on the actual memory amelioration (Fincham, n.d).
In humanistic therapy, the onset of psychological distress is associated with the prevention or disconnections of the achievement of self-actualization and successful connections. The occurrence of these disconnections may hinder development of self-awareness and the establishment of defensive psychological routines that amount severe psychological distress (Rathus, 2008). On the other hand, all the psychodynamic approaches are based on the ideas, actions and words that embody the human behavior. In this therapy, the psychological distresses are viewed as conflicts between various levels of mental functioning, both on conscious and unconscious levels, but not as diseases or illnesses based on etiologies (Fincham, n.d).
Concisely, the two therapies; humanistic and psychodynamic, in therapeutic models are among the key psychological therapies that offer better treatment and remedy to mental distress and disorders. In light with this, the therapists play a big role in the development of self-awareness and self-actualization, through modification of behavior and the uncovering of past negative effect. Similarly, the clients play an equally important role, as they aid in their own healing process and in the correction of the psychological distress.
Fincham, D. F. (n.d). Therapy. Retrieved from [http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/intropsych/pdf/chapter16.pdf]
Rathus, A. S. (2008). Psychology: Concepts and Connections (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning
Summers, R. F. & Barber, P. J. (2010). Psychodynamic Therapy: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practice. New York, NY: The Guilford press.
Totton, N. (2010). The Problem with Humanistic Therapies. London: Karnac Books Ltd.