“Compare and contrast the main principles in any two of the followingPsychological therapies: psychoanalysis, behavior therapy, cognitive therapy or humanistic therapy. ” Over the detritus of centuries, mental illnesses (such as anxiety, depression and personality disorder) have been a major contentious topic, especially in the medieval times in which religion centered, cultural and traditional influenced people deemed these exhibiting symptoms of psychopathology as demonic possessions (Davey, 2011). It was not until the late 18th and 19th century when its rival, medical science, addressed the mental illnesses fully.

It was then when S. Weir Mitchell’s treatment of epilepsy and emotional liability with lithium bromide gave rise to medical solutions to mental health problems. His famous treatment aided in the transition of medical treatment from restraints in asylums to m (Davey, 2011)edicine pills and later on to psychological therapies (Schou, 1992). This essay will focus on psychoanalysis and cognitive therapies by first explaining the main principles and then followed by a detailed comparison in between the two. The latter would include both advantages and drawbacks of these methods.

Lastly this essay would include an evaluation of the argument shortly followed by a conclusion. Cognitive therapy is a collaborative approach where therapists do not direct the patients to do certain things or persuade them to change their views. They work together with the patients, help them recognize the dysfunctional thoughts and select the best approach to tackle the problem. It aids in modifying the patterns of thought and behavior associated with a particular disorder. Cognitions are thoughts which evaluate an experience.

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These cognitions results from activating schemata, which are core beliefs and assumptions with which a person shapes their understanding and attitude of the world based on past experiences. They are also referred to as “negative automatic thoughts” which leads to emotions such as sadness, hoplessness, depression and unhelpful behaviours such as withdrawal, inactivity, suicidality and many more harmful activities. (University, N. D) Davey (2011) advocates further by elucidating what Alber Ellis in 1962 argued about cognitive behavior.

Ellis held this view that motional distress was caused by people developing irrational beliefs by which they judge their behavior and set unrealistic demands for themselves. These demands include such as the one that they should be liked by everyone. This cognitive approach was first pioneered by Alber Ellis in 1962 and later by Aaron Beck in 1967. Moreover, cognitive techniques are derived from the cognitive model of psychiatric disorders which emphasis the role that an individual’s evaluation of events has in determining their emotional and behavioral reactions. Cognitive therapy is therefore designed to modify the individual’s idiosyncratic, maladaptive ideation.

The basic cognitive technique consists of delineating the individual’s specific misconceptions, distortions, and maladaptive assumptions, and of testing their validity and reasonableness. By loosening the grip of his perseverative, distorted ideation, the patient is enabled to formulate his experiences more realistically. Clinical experience, as well as some experimental studies, indicate that such cognitive restructuring leads to symptom relief. (Beck, 1970). This therapy is a brief problem focused therapy where courses of treatment are 8 to 12 sessions in duration and where homework tasks are performed between therapy sessions.

This treatment method is effective in treating major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic and eating disorders especially Bulimia nervosa. (University, N. D) Whereas on the other hand psychoanalytic or psychodynamic model, which was pioneered by Sigmund Freud, puts forward the theory of psychoanalysis. As Davey, G (2011) expresses that this theory was an attempt to explain both normal and abnormal psychological functioning. This explanation describes how various psychological functioning aids in defending against anxiety and depression.

Davey also points out Freud’s argument which involves how three psychological forces shape an individual’s personality. These psychological forces are ID (instinctual needs), Ego which is the rational thinking and the Super Ego which are moral standards. The instinctual needs (ID) are natural needs such as sexual needs. Freud’s argument held that as an individual grows up, the environment cannot satisfy all its innate needs. So therefore, our mind develops a separate part of our psychology known as Ego. This rational part attempts to control the impulses of the ID through the development of Ego defensive mechanisms.

These Ego defensive mechanisms reduce anxiety and stress by trying to control unacceptable ID impulses. These include Denial of any source of anxiety that exists, Repression of bad memories or current thoughts that triggers anxiety, Regression which is moving to an earlier development stage, Reaction formation which is doing the opposite of what an individual feels, finding rational explanations of wrong doings , Displacement which is transferring an impulse(especially anger) from one object to another and Sublimation which is transferring the impulse to doing something constructive.

There are many more defensive mechanisms which attempts to reduce anxiety. However it must be noted that each of these Freudian defense mechanisms functions to reduce the amount of stress, they do fail for some individuals ultimately putting them under anxiety and stress. Moreover this Super Ego is a development from both the ID and the Ego itself and represents our attempt to integrate values learnt from the society and from parents. Freud further explains that psychological health is maintained only when these three components are in balance. Any imbalance in between them leads to psychological disorders (Davey, 2011).

Furthermore, Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages, the unconscious and the conscious mind completes the formation of the major components of psychoanalytic theory. (Cherry, N. D) However, there are drawbacks related to psychoanalytic model. Davey, G (2011) explains the shortcomings put forward by Erdelyi in 1992 that the central concepts in psychoanalytic are hard to define and measure objectively. Therefore it is difficult to conduct research on them to see if they are actually related to symptoms of psychopathology in the way Freud describes.

On the other hand, Cognitive approach according to Davey, G (2011) has been successful in generating an influential approach to treatment. There have been studies, researches and experiments done to distinguish which approach is the better one. Some favour one over the other and others weigh both therapies equally. Such was the study in which psychoanalytic approach was compared with cognitive behavior therapy. It was a three year follow up study in which comparison was made in the treatment of patients with a primary diagnosis of unipolar depression. 00 patients were compared at pre- and post-treatment in a prospective, quasi-experimental design; Where Outcome measures were the Beck Depression Inventory and Global Severity Index for measuring symptoms, the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems and the Social Support Questionnaire for measurement of social-interpersonal functioning, and the INTREX Introject Questionnaire for measuring personality structure. Comparative effectiveness of the experimental groups was analyzed using mixed models.

It was then found out that psychoanalytic therapy shows significantly longer-lasting effects compared to cognitive-behaviour therapy three years after termination of treatment, which is discussed as a dose-effect and it was superior in the reduction of interpersonal problems. (Huber D, 2012) Also there was an experiment carried out by two psychotherapists Hugo Bleichmar and Jose Calderon, in which they had to analyse and examine a case of a 20 year old female, Claudea, who was suffering from major depression. The initial session was recorded for the experiment.

Hugo examined the case from the psychoanalytic perspective whereas Calderon examined it from the cognitive method. 28 Spanish psychotherapists participated in this study in which half of them were psychoanalysts and the other half were cognitive therapists. The recorded session was to be judged by these 28 psychotherapists. The results showed that there were no significant changes between the two group findings and it was mutually agreed that both therapies were effective. Calderon also reported to have said that it is beneficial to have access to multiple therapies and it is in the best interest of patients. HOLMAN, JUN 2008). In conclusion, Cognitive theories are focused on internal states, such as motivation, problem solving, decision-making, thinking, and attention. Whereas psychoanalytic is a Theory of development which provides a framework for thinking about human growth, development and learning (Cherry, N. D). As both therapies have proved to be effective with a little debate still going on with psychoanalytical approach, it is still imperative to note that both therapies have contributed immensely in addressing mental health problems.


Beck, A. (1970). Cognitive therapy: Nature and relation to behavior therapy. Behaviour Therapy , Volume 1 (2), 184–200. accessed online:http://www. sciencedirect. com/science/article/pii/S0005789470800302. Cherry, K. (N. D, – -). Psychology. Retrieved october 23, 2012, from About. com: http://psychology. about. com/od/psychology101/u/psychology-theories. htm Davey, G. (2011). Appied Psychology. In G. Davey, Applied Psychology (pp. 24 – 29). -: Blackwell Publishing Limited. HOLMAN, J. B. (JUN 2008). Psychoanalytic and cognitive approaches to a clinical case. the International Journal of psychoanalysis , Volume 85, Issue 4 accessed online: http://onlinelibrary. wiley. com/doi/10. 516/KYU9-6HYJ-Q4YE-UK61/pdf. Huber D, Z. J. (2012). Comparison of cognitive-behaviour therapy with psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapy for depressed patients – a three-year follow-up study. PubMed , 58(3):299-316. accessed online: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/22987495. Schou, M. (1992). The first psychiatric use of lithium. The British Journal of Psychiatry , 161:279-280. accessed online: http://bjp. rcpsych. org/content/161/2/279. full. pdf+html. University, N. C. (N. D, – -). The Psychlogical Therapies. Retrieved october 23, 2012, from -: http://www. ncl. ac. uk/nnp/teaching/resources/psychological. pdf


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