Compare and Contrast Psychodynamic and Humanistic

1836 words 8 pages
Compare and contrast how the psychodynamic and person-centred approaches to counselling understand the person, and how these two approaches explain psychological distress experienced by individuals. In part 2 reflect on and write about which of the two models appeals most to you and why?


Psychodynamic and person-centred approaches to counselling have many differences in the way they understand the person and explain psychological distress. Part one below reviews both approaches separately, followed by a comparison of the main similarities and differences. Part two explains why I feel psychodynamic therapy appeals to me most.



Psychodynamic counselling has its roots in the work of Sigmund
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There is a constant striving towards the ‘ideal self’ which the person-centred therapist helps to achieve.

Rogers believed people have an innate capacity for growth and fulfilment, and are always in process and changing.


Both approaches want the same result for the client – an insight and understanding about yourself, and the ability to change what is not mentally healthy.

However there are many differences in the approaches. In the way they understand the person, psychodynamics have a very negative view, believing human beings are basically bad. Freud stated sexual and aggressive tendencies as the driving force behind behaviour. In the person centred approach however, it is felt that people are inherently good and strive towards positivity and reaching full potential, with the ability to grow and develop. The approaches appear optimistic (person centred) versus pessimistic (psychodynamic).

Psychodynamics focuses largely on the unconscious, believing behaviour is not consciously controlled and instead learned back in early childhood and therefore delves into the past. Person centred therapy focuses on the ‘here and now’ encouraging the client to think in the present time.

Moreover, psychodynamic therapies focus on underlying problems whilst as described by Corsini and Wedding (2008), person-cantered therapies focus on “the person’s


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