There are numerous types of psychological theories and with them approaches for modifying human happiness and behavior. Psychoanalytic theory and behavioral theory are two of the most overwhelming and notable theories in this field. Exploring them adequately not only illuminates the field of mental health, but the truly endless possibilities for treatment approaches for a professional in this field.
"This is one of the oldest theories of psychology in which patients are viewed within a model of illness or 'what is lacking'" (Grohol, 2004). Each person is viewed as being composed of a particular dynamic that starts when they are extremely young and then proceeds throughout life; this theory focuses on the idea that all problems or issues which adults face can find their origins in one's childhood (Grohol, 2004). This type of therapy is so traditional and widely considered extremely "old school," so much so that many therapists don't practice this type of psychoanalysis anymore, aside from psychiatrists who have often spent tremendous amounts of time being analyzed themselves (Grohol, 2004).
As stated, childhood factors tremendously in this type of therapy. This means that professionals who use this type of theory as their overarching guidepost generally view individuals as the composite of the way their parents raised them; namely the way that parents worked out conflicts with one another and with the child continues. The child manifests these types of behavior as he grows up (Grohol, 2004). "Therapists who subscribe to this theory tend to look at individuals as the composite of their parental upbringing and how particular conflicts between themselves and their parents and within themselves get worked out. Most psychodynamic therapists believe in the theoretical constructs of the ego (a mediating sort of force, like a referee), a superego (what is typically referred to as your 'conscience,' as in, 'Your conscience tells you not to smoke!'), and an id (the devil inside us all that says, 'Go ahead, what can it hurt?')" (Grohol, 2004). One of the overarching notions within psychoanalysis is the idea that what one doesn't know can hurt one tremendously, hence the focus on recalling and analyzing the past; more often than not, therapists find that the past does hurt the unknowing individual (Grohol, 2004). This is mostly as a result of the fact that an adult develops in a way that his personality is perceived in terms of whether or not he was able to find a way through the psychosexual stages of childhood through adolescence in to adulthood and if most adults falter along this way, it's likely that they're aren't even aware of it (Grohol, 2004).
One of the aspects that psychoanalytic theory received much criticism for is the fact that nearly everyone on earth can be viewed in a negative fashion; in fact, many critics argue that when one views human behavior and the human condition through the lens of psychoanalysis, it's strikingly negative (Grohol, 2004). In fact, the view that this theory takes on mental illness is of course highly specific and not at all surprising that it relies so heavily on the idea of childhood and the individual's thorough progression through childhood (Grohol, 2004). "Mental illness is a result of an unsuccessful progression through childhood development (e.g. - stuck in the 'anal' stage), which in turn, has resulted in problems with the balance of your personality structure (the ego, superego, and id). The unconscious motives for most human behavior are sex and aggression" (Grohol, 2004). One clear example of this would be if an individual's id was stronger than both the ego and the superego. For instance, this might manifest itself within a hedonistic, under-achieving individual who would rather engage in the pleasures of life such as alcohol and over-eating, being entertained and having lots of careless, casual sex. Or sometimes such an imbalance manifests as criminal behavior, through drug addicts and bank robbers. One of the most important aspects to remember about this theory is that these shaping or un-shaping actions are all based in the unconscious as a result of all the unresolved childhood issues that mean the person is not consciously aware of why they are the way they are: thus therapy can be a useful tool (according to this theory), for making those discoveries.
"In therapy, psychodynamic therapists tend to emphasize the important of the 'frame,' insight, and interpretations. Though not necessarily in that order. The 'frame' of therapy exists in all theoretical orientations -- to be fair - but it is usually emphasized to a great degree in psychodynamic therapy" (Grohol, 2004). The frame of therapy refers to the fundamentals and the basics of how the session and the rapport are run between the therapist and the patient. For example, it refers to all the boundaries such as the meeting time and length, and how payment is handled and how much self-disclosure is allowed by the therapist (Grohol, 2004). The notion of the frame is significant in psychoanalytics because the basis of psychodynamic therapy is transference; which means that the patient often projects emotions about a significant individual in their lives onto the therapist (generally the person projected is a parent) (Grohol, 2004).
However, above everything else, therapists who specialize in psychodynamics and psychoanalytics, excel at interpretation (Grohol, 2004). One of the most basic examples of a therapist reading into your actions manifests itself through interpretation. For instance, if the patient cancels an appointment last minute, without giving the therapist an adequate warning time, this could readily be interpreted as the patient projecting anger towards a parent onto the healthcare provider. The goal of an interpretation is to do it correctly, so that it leads to a deeper understanding of the patient and so that the patient has a better sense of where the unconscious motivation was coming from making them act or feel in a certain manner (Grohol, 2004). While it's true that other mental health professionals make interpretations, those who specialize in the field of psychoanalytics generally do it best; this is nothing to be underestimated as it can be intensely powerful and intensely effective (Grohol, 2004).
However, one of the shortcomings of this aspect of therapy is that it won't necessarily lead to any actual changes: it doesn't have to. Such changes are still up to the individual. Thus, if an individual understands that if he acts out with drugs and alcohol because he didn't receive enough attention from his parents growing up, that doesn't necessarily mean that he will or will not change his behavior. Understanding does not always create desire and action for change. Furthermore, if a therapist engages in interpretation badly, it generally makes it even less likely for change to occur. Psychoanalysis historically took years (with sessions being three to four times a week); it's now been adapted to fit modern life with short-term plans available.
This is evidence that psychoanalytic theory continues to evolve and that many sub-theories and sub-practices evolve from it (Corey, 2011). But the crux of all theories and techniques which stem from psychoanalytic theory basically dictate that the incidents which occur over a person's development can largely cause emotional conflicts and psychological symptoms (Corey, 2011). One of the benefits of this type of practice is that it can be modified for a culturally diverse population, if done strategically by the therapist.
Behavioral therapy has its origins in behaviorism which is a theory that orbits around the notion that all we learn, we learn from our environment (Cherry, 2013). "In behavioral therapy, the goal is to reinforce desirable behaviors and eliminate unwanted or maladaptive ones. The techniques used in this type of treatment are based on the theories of classical conditioning and operant conditioning" (Cherry, 2013). One truly significant distinction about behavioral therapy is that is differs from psychoanalytic principles in that it is largely action based: therapists who practice in the method draw upon the learning strategies of the patient that caused him or her to develop the undesirable behaviors along so that better behaviors can develop (Cherry, 2013). This translates to a highly specific form of therapy; because the behavior is what causes the issues for the patient then the objective can be truly clear in zeroing in on instructing the patient to reduce or eradicate the problem (Cherry, 2013). New learning can replace old learning and fix current problems (Cherry, 2013).
Two pillars exist which shape behavioral therapy and they are classical and operant conditioning (Cherry, 2013). Classical conditioning revolves around making connections between stimuli and operant condition revolves around how support and punishments can be harnessed to bolster or minimize the rate of occurrence of an action or behavior (Cherry, 2013). The main objective of behavior therapy orbits around the possibility of bolstering the person's connection to positive or socially reinforcing activities; it is a highly structured method that very carefully measures what an individual does and then attempts to increase all odds of a positive experience…