In the field of psychotherapy, there are four major schools of thought or theoretical orientations.
These are four different ways of viewing psychotherapy. Each one of them is equally valid and effective.
Most psychologists and psychotherapists find inspiration in principles derived from a variety of theoretical models. When first meeting a psychologist, don’t hesitate to ask questions about his orientation.
- The cognitive-behavioural model is based on the idea that psychological difficulties are related to inadequate thoughts or behaviour. The psychotherapist using this approach uses various techniques and strategies to help clients change their behaviour, thoughts, and feelings.
- Psychologists who adopt the existential-humanistic model believe that human beings have, within themselves, the resources they need to fulfill themselves. A humanist psychotherapist will try to help the person become aware of his difficulties, understand them, and make his own decisions in order to act on the basis of who he is and what he feels.
- Deeply influenced by psychoanalysis and relying on the concept of the unconscious, the psychodynamic-analytic model makes a connection between the client’s current difficulties, his past experience, and repressed and unresolved conflicts in his personal history. The psychotherapist helps the person see how these conflicts influence the way he functions so that he can understand them and gradually be released from them.
- In the systemic-interactionist model, personal problems are thought to appear and persist because of the way someone is interacting with other people. The goal of systemic psychotherapy is to change the relations between the person and the people around him or her. Often, the psychotherapist will meet some of the people who are important to the client.