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Psychodynamic and Cognitive Behavior Therapy Case Study

Presenting Problems in Psychological Perspectives

Psychodynamic Approach

People have different personalities, and it is impossible to force them all to behave in similar ways. However, it is important to ensure that their behaviors promote positive personality development and enable them to achieve physical, mental, and emotional health.

They may face similar challenges, and even though there are various approaches of managing those problems, it is important to ensure that a therapist understands the origins of these problems and how personalities influence them.

The most common ways of managing personality problems include the psychodynamic and cognitive behavior approaches that ensure that patients change their perceptions, behaviors and lifestyles to live happy and comfortable lives.

Sigmund Freud explained that the best way of managing mental and emotional problems is through getting into victims’ minds and understanding how they view their experiences and relationships as well as what perceptions of events and people around them they develop.

This approach views human functioning as a result of the interactions between drives and forces that exist in the minds of an individual (Summers and Barber 2010).

Freud believed that there was a close relationship between the unconscious part of an individual and the structures of his/her personality.

The principles of this method are derived from a clinical approach that involves a discussion between a therapist and a patient. This allows the therapist to understand the patient through interviewing him/her and assessing his/her response.

Amanda is suffering from anxiety and depression because of her emotional and mental insecurity. She believes that her boyfriend will leave her because of her inappropriate behavior. She admits that she has been behaving poorly, and as a result, things seem to have moved from bad to worse.

Therefore, she feels very insecure that her boyfriend may break up with her because of her conduct (Summers and Barber 2010). Her motive is to ensure that she has a lasting relationship with Lorec, and this makes her behave inappropriately when she sees him communicating with his former girlfriends.

She unconsciously finds herself hurling insults at him and later breaking down because she cannot bear the pain of losing him.

Amanda’s childhood experiences may also have contributed to her present predicament. She is the only girl in a family, and she has been unable to compete with achievements of her siblings.

She is not an academic giant like her brothers, and thus she thinks that her parents placed a lot of pressure to ensure so that she performed well in school.

In addition, she was taught that couples should have similar levels of education, and this makes her insecure because her boyfriend is completing a PhD study yet she has no plans of getting there.

In addition, one of his former girlfriends is a doctor, and this promotes her insecurity because she thinks that they may have been a perfect match.

Thirdly, her behavior is determined because of the effect of unconscious causes. She is used to mention some facts that should not be exposed to the public. In addition, she loses her temper whenever she thinks about his boyfriend and his former girlfriends.

This example explains that people are motivated by their unconscious parts to act in ways that reflect their thoughts.

Amanda is very aggressive, and this behavior continues worsening because she thinks that her boyfriend should not communicate with his former girlfriends because this shows that he is still interested in them.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

This is a therapeutic approach that enables patients to understand how to manage negative personality and behavior that affect their interaction with the others. It is very common in treating people suffering from anxiety and obsession. In this case, Amanda is a perfect victim for this approach.

In addition, this approach enables patients to know how to manage situations they cannot change (Beck 1995). Therefore, this is a problem based approach to mental and emotional challenges and is usually used for short term purposes.

Amanda has three brothers; therefore, relationships developed through communication with them show that she cannot change the way she acts with the other males. This method should prepare her to manage to live with people of a different sex.

She seems to be stressed by the fact that all her siblings are very far from her except the young one. This makes her think that she is not a part of the family and that they do not like her.

In addition, her mother has always been a tough parent since her childhood, and she should not be afraid of visiting her for fears of getting into a quarrel.

She should understand that her mother was not properly educated, and thus she does not need to expect her to make the decisions common in families where both the parents are enlightened.

She should learn to accept her behavior and move on with her life because the more she thinks she must act properly, the deeper she sinks into her mental stress.

Secondly, she is very distressed by her boyfriend’s communication with his former girlfriends. This is the only instance that makes her think that her boyfriend may be planning to leave her. Therefore, she becomes insecure, and this feeling makes her aggressive and disrespectful to her boyfriend.

She knows and agrees that she behaves badly, and that it may be the reason why her boyfriend keeps his distance from her. However, her source of insecurity is that she thinks that her poor behavior may make her boyfriend despise her.

She has used to drink alcohol in order to lessen her stress and may soon be addicted to alcohol unless she changes her behavior (Beck 1995).

She thinks that her body shape is not attractive to her boyfriend. In addition, she considers that her level of education is way far below that of her boyfriend, and this makes her react badly and exaggerate small fights.

It is important to explain that the way she sees the other girls as well as her views how perfectly they would match her boyfriend contributes to her aggressive behavior and development of negative personality.

Therefore, she becomes insecure because she despises herself and even though she works hard to make her a better person, she seems to be undecided whether she does right or wrong.

For instance, she decided to enroll in a fitness class and attends five sessions per week. However, she eats junk food and spends most of her time indoors whenever she is stressed. This means that she may never achieve that perfect figure she dreams of because she will continue adding weight instead of losing it.

Lastly, she knows her mother is a strict parent, and her mother’s attitude towards her will not change.

Therefore, she focuses a lot of her attention on how her mother should behave and avoids meeting her because she fears that this may worsen their already bad relationships. She thinks about perfection and expects other people to be perfect yet she has flaws.

Treatment, Planning and Goals: Short-Term Remedies

The Psychodynamic Approach

The psychodynamic approach can be used as a short time remedy to help Amanda manage her situation. First, she is very interested in ensuring that her relationship with Lorec lasts and leads to marriage.

However, she is afraid that he may go away to one of his former girlfriends, and this fear has resulted in insomnia and troubles with sleeping. This is a common feeling that most people in love experience during their early stages of dating.

However, she takes things too far and does not seem to think twice before making any decision. I will advise her to stop fearing of breaking up with Lorec and confront him objectively.

This means that she should let him know her fears and explain that she is not comfortable when he talks with his former girlfriends (Summers and Barber 2010). However, it is not just easy to wish this perception away since it is the cause of her bitter confrontations with him.

Therefore, I will advise her to stop thinking that all communication between her boyfriend and other women is aimed at building or reconstructing some relationships. I would let her know that the fact that he left his former girlfriends and decided to be with her means that he loves and adores her.

In addition, her super-ego and identity are in constant conflicts with her conscious part (ego), and this creates anxiety that makes her uneasy so that she thinks that her boyfriend should not socialize with any woman apart from her.

Therefore, she develops a defense mechanism that involves drinking too much, provoking and insulting her boyfriend and spending a lot on buying new things.

She thinks that going for shopping makes her relax and ease her anxiety, and that is why she is guided by impulse when buying new shoes that she hides then in the car. Her ego seems to drive her to do things she thinks will make her relationship work.

Her behavior is motivated by Eros (sex drive and life instinct) that makes her think that she can use her virginity to dictate the life of her boyfriend. She thinks that her ability to abstain from sexual affairs makes her better than Lorec but she is unable to leave him even if she feels that he is not her type.

In addition, she is driven by Thanatos (aggressive drives and death instincts) and thinks that she will make her life better by confronting her boyfriend and insulting him (Summers and Barber 2010). The therapist realized that she has so much to share that she is unable to know where to start and where to end.

Cognitive Behavioral Approach

Amanda is suffering from inferiority complex that has lowered her self-esteem, and this has made her aggressive and addicted to alcohol. She has become an escapist and does not want to face her problems; instead, she blames other people for her problems.

In addition, she suffers from an inferiority complex and thinks that her level of education is too low to attract Lorec. However, she forgets that Lorec fall in love and decided to be with her irrespective of her level of education. Therefore, this is not an issue that should give her sleepless nights.

There is the need for her to understand that even though her mother was never properly educated, she has brought up her children in an admirable way. The fact that her brothers have already pursued higher education means that her mother was intelligent, caring, and responsible.

Therefore, I would advise her to focus on her abilities and ensure she does her best to make attract Lorec to her. In addition, I would advise her to stop drinking alcohol and ensure she avoids solving her relationship issues when she is drunk.

It seems that she uses her alcoholism to express her anger because she cannot confront Lorec when she is sober and ask him to discuss their relationship. This means that alcohol makes her braver enough to be aggressive and face him (Beck 1995).

I would tell her that this is a very dangerous approach to deal with relationship issues because she cannot make rational decisions when drunk. Alcohol affects the mental stability of an individual, and there is no way she will make her relationship better if she keeps drinking.

She has increased her alcohol consumption level, and this is definitely going to affect her relationship. Therefore, I would advise her to check drinking because this may be a major relationship turn off.

Alcoholism does not help people solve their problems because it deceives them giving a perception that they can easily manage their challenges. I would assure Amanda to reduce her drinking.

This will be a short term remedy that will ensure she is sober most of her time. In addition, it will give more opportunities for her and Lorec to discuss their relationship.

Therefore, she thinks she is the judge and controller of every situation and this makes her frustrated when things do not go the way she wants. I would offer her to mind her own business and stop focusing on issues that she cannot change.

For instance, her mother had developed the same behavior when Amanda was young as she wanted to see her children responsible and successful in life.

Long-Term Psychodynamic Approaches

She has unsettled issues with her mother, and she should learn to understand that she cannot change her parents. She seems to accept that her father abuses alcohol, but when her mother develops the same behavior, she opposes her.

In addition, I would try to explain to her that people can have different opinions regarding education, marriage and careers but this does not mean that this should be the end of their relationships. I would make sure she understood that her mother is an important person in her life.

Thus, she needs to ensure that she develops a healthy relationship with her. In addition, she controls everything in her relationship and seems to have Lorec in her hands.

Therefore, she can manipulate him and force to do everything in her way though he resists. I would advise her not to perceive her mother as a harsh parent because all the parents want their children to be successful in the future.

In addition, I would ask her to seek forgiveness from her mother and focus on developing healthy relationship with her.

This will help her avoid things that will annoy her mother. In addition, she will understand that all the parents wish their children well, and whenever they are strict, they want to prove that good morals are indispensable in personality development.

Amanda has to make tough decisions if she wants to ensure that her problems are solved. First, she should understand that she cannot compete with all the women on Earth because there are things she cannot change about herself.

I would advise her to be satisfied with what she has achieved in academic performance and focus on developing her career to ensure she has a bright future. This will enable her to stop concentrating on irrelevant issues that make her stressed.


Beck, J. S. (1995). Introduction to Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond. New York: The Guilford Press.

Summers, R. and Barber, J. P. (2010). Psychodynamic Therapy: A Guide to Evidence Based Practice. New York: The Guilford Press.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Psychodynamic and Cognitive Behavior Therapy." June 25, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/psychodynamic-and-cognitive-behavior-therapy/.


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