Comparing the Cognitive-Behavioral and Psychodynamic Counseling Models

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This essay will discuss the similarities and differences between the cognitive-behavioural and psychodynamic models of counselling. I shall begin by investigating the ways in which the two models view the person and their experience of mental life; how they explain the problem(s) experienced by individuals and, finally, how help is offered to those in psychological distress. The assignment will reach the conclusion that, while the two approaches are very different in their origins and techniques, they can be seen as similar in that, through talking, they both focus upon changing the client's negative cognitive content and both approaches rely on the skill of active counsellors.

The psychodynamic model views the person and their mental life as decided by their childhood experiences and whether they had consistent, long-term, trusting relationships. By contrast, the cognitive-behavioural approach is a blend of two techniques – behavioural and cognitive and focuses on enabling people to change their destructive learned behaviour or, 'crooked thinking', as Ellis described it, (cited in Mcleod, chapter 5, p.143).

The psychodynamic approach views the person and their experience of mental life as a product of disrupted childhood relationships which has meant that, as an adult, they have encountered difficulties in forming long-term, trusting relationships. The cognitive-behavioural approach views the person as being rather like a computer which responds to certain situations in a particular way. There is a major difference in these two viewpoints as the psychodynamic model views past experiences as the key to unlocking the problems of the present while the cognitive-behavioural model does not focus on the past but concentrates on current behavioural problems and teaches the client practical skills to help them to cope with life. It could be argued that the foundations of negative cognitive content could be embedded during childhood by a parent or carer and...
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