My therapeutic approach
Not all psychotherapy or counselling is the same. Different theoretical approaches call for extremely different styles of working with clients or patients. If the truth be told, there are often wide variations in the way individual practitioners choose to deliver the same model. Additionally, there are literally hundreds of different models of psychotherapy and most practitioners integrate models with each other so that they are not limited to just one approach. So how can a prospective client choose the model and a practitioner that suits them.
There are three main approaches to counselling and psychotherapy: Psychoanalytic, Person-centred and Cognitive-behavioural. I will set out the differences between them here.
Sigmund Freud developed the original form of psychotherapy. Freud believed that our minds are comprised of three parts: The Id, sub-conscious drives toward self gratification; the Ego, conscious intentional thoughts and emotions and the Superego, our conscience. Behaviour, is produced by an interaction between the three. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy attends to people’s unconscious processes and attempts to bring those hidden influences into our awareness and hence under our control. Freud’s theory brought together ideas that have lasted over a hundred years.
Modern Psychoanalytic therapists do not always use a couch and remain as separate from their clients as was Freud’s original approach. However, they retain a powerful role in the therapeutic relationship often providing interpretations to help patients understand themselves.
Carl Rogers was a student of Freud but radically changed some key components of his theory. Person-centred therapy focusses on the person and the person’s experiences. Rogers believed that people naturally have a drive for health and life, both physical health and mental health. Contrasted with Freud’s theory, Rogers takes an optimistic view. Rogers belief was that people become mentally ill through negative interaction with others. No one is ever fully ‘well’ but instead Rogers views health as a process toward becoming a ‘fully functioning person’.
Person-centred therapy concerns establishing a special therapeutic relationship with clients. Note the wording, Rogers rejected the term ‘patient’ prefering the more empowered term ‘client’. Indeed, person-centred therapists take a low power role in therapeutic relationships valuing the client’s expertise over themselves.