“The way in, is the way out”
Psychodynamic psychotherapy (a form of depth psychology) is based on psychoanalytic principles and works with conscious and unconscious processes. It primarily focuses on revealing the unconscious content of an individual’s psyche in an effort to alleviate internal tension and conflict. This is often done by exploring an individual’s past (with particular attention to experiences from early childhood and formative years) to gain insight and understanding about how these have come to impact on the individual’s adult life. This process can bring into awareness what drives and motivates us to feel, think, and behave the way we do, and an assessment can then be made as to what is useful and what needs to be changed or managed in a more productive way.
Problems seldom occur in isolation. Rather they usually exist in dynamic relationship between an individual and others or their external world. As a result, a client’s presenting issues often manifest themselves in the therapy situation, representing what happens in the broader context of the client’s life outside the room. With this in mind, psychodynamic psychotherapy relies explicitly on the interpersonal relationship between client and therapist to explore, identify, and work through specific issues related to personal, social or organizational contexts.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that deals with cognitions, assumptions, beliefs and reactions, with the aim of influencing emotions and behaviours that relate to maladaptive and dysfunctional appraisal of events. CBT is widely accepted as an evidence, and empiricism, based, cost-effective psychotherapy for many mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. The particular techniques employed vary according to the kind of problem or issue, but commonly may include: keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviours; questioning and testing cognitions, assumptions, evaluations and beliefs that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting. Relaxation, mindfulness, and distraction techniques are also commonly included.
One of the objectives of CBT typically is to identify and monitor thoughts, assumptions, beliefs and behaviours (often formed in childhood) that are related to, and accompany, debilitating negative emotions, and then identify those which are dysfunctional, inaccurate, or simply unhelpful. This is done, through using a wide array of different methodologies, in an effort to replace or transcend them with more realistic and self-helping ways.
When used in conjunction with psychodynamic psychotherapy, CBT allows the client to move beyond symptom reduction through a deeper understanding of likely causes and can provide more effective long-term change.