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Three Theories Approach Report

Psychoanalytic Theory

The psychoanalytic theory was developed by Freud Sigmund in the late 19th century. Freud states in this theory that the impact of early childhood experiences that are stored in an individuals subconscious play a big role in the development of emotional problems in adulthood. In this theory, human nature is based on determinism.

Freud places the structure of personality into three systems. These are the id, the ego and the superego. The id is the mind’s main source of energy and also the point that generates instincts in the unconscious part of the mind that is guided by the demand for pleasure and satisfaction.

The ego is the conscious part of the mind and is responsible for controlling and regulating one’s personality. It enables an individual to always be in touch with reality and he strives to satisfy his or her needs. The superego, on the other hand, is the ethical element or moral code that enables one to differentiate between good and bad. It regulates an individual’s ideals including beliefs that are passed from one generation to the other (Burger, 2008, p. 45).

Freud identifies three basic concepts in this theory. The main concept is the unconscious, which acts as a store in a persons mental state that carries experiences that one may not be aware of, but which can be easily be transferred into the preconscious and eventually into the conscious.

These experiences can also be inferred from one’s behavior. The second concept is resistance, which is defined as the process through which elements of the unconscious are barred from the unconscious awareness by a repressive force. The third concept that Freud came up with is what he called transference, a concept through which people transfer aspects of their experiences with other in the past to others in a way that the connection between is their past feelings (Burger, 2008, p. 44).

This theory works well in a multicultural setting. It enables people in a community or institution to understand the current problems of an individual by using the elaborated psychoanalytical concepts. Exploring the historical or cultural context of an individual’s problems may not be easy, but if one understands how certain events affected the individual in the past, then one can be in a position to offer help when such events happen again. Understanding a person’s personality helps in coming up with possible interventions.

This works well with group therapists who deal with clients from different cultures. There are many strengths of this theory. Using it one is able to understand the patterns of an individual’s personality development early in life. The unconscious forces that propel individuals into actions are also understood.

One also understands the importance of defense mechanisms in one’s personality. All these are useful especially in psychotherapy. The weaknesses of this theory come from the fact that psychoanalysis is seen by many as not being an exact science and therefore, all conclusions reached are just guesses because they can not be proved. It only happens that sometimes the guesses work out, but not always.

This theory confirms to the truth revealed in the scriptures. The bible teaches that all men are made to understand right from wrong, but they occasional do the wrong things because no single person is perfect, than man has a sinful nature. This truth is manifested by Freud’s concept of the id, which a self seeking entity that the potential to occasional destroy the human psyche.

The theory recognizes that there is the aspect of selfishness and actions that are counter to the moral principles in the life of man. This means that the theory acknowledges, just like the bible, that even sinners know about their moral duty.

Humanistic Theory

The humanistic theory views each individual as a unique person. It views human nature as naturally good and seeks to encourage positive potential in humans to emerge. This theory seems to contradict with Freud’s definition of personality as an arena where biological instincts and unconscious forces are always in conflict.

It sees humans as beings that are capable of making free choices in life. It says that a person is who he is at present because of the personal choices he makes in life. The theory recognizes the subjective experiences that people go through contrary to the forced and definitive elements that dictate one’s behavior. Two theorists are credited for these perspectives, Maslow and Rogers.

They both stressed that man is active, creative and one that goes through experiences, that man only lives in the present thereby subjectively responding to the present circumstances in life. The theory stresses that man’s personality is naturally made to seek for growth and self-actualization. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs sums up the entire humanistic theory, it simple says that every humans being has specific needs that should be satisfied (Burger, 2008, p. 277).

This theory seems to work for everyone in this society with competing needs. It recognizes the fact that every individual has a right to work hard in life in order to reach self actualization. It works best in a multicultural society by giving a chance to every individual to explore his or her potential to the maximum.

This theory however does not work best for the psychology specialists because it encourages the concentration on only the positive aspects of life and ignoring the negative aspects which might be useful in coming up with remedies for certain events. The strengths of this theory lie in the fact that it emphasizes on the positive and good aspects of humanity and the free will to change.

Many aspects of this theory easily integrate with other life views whereby other theorists can comfortably apply humanistic approaches in their work. This theory also applies to many professional fields because each has its needs that should be met. The theory also has its weaknesses, for example, there are those who feel that the theory does not address the hierarchy of needs, for instance, it can not be taken to apply to everyone because there is a possibility that some people can form their own order of attainment.

Theory can not be used to treat people having severe mental disorders. Another weakness is that the theory tends to generalize human nature. The Christian doctrine teaches that humans are born with a natural freedom and individualism and that they have the will to judge between good and bad. Humanistic theory, on the other hand, says that man has the right to live freely in the struggle to achieve in life specific problems because it advocates for free will (Burger, 2008, p. 301).

Cognitive Behavioral Theory

This theory came about thanks to the efforts of Aaron Becks as he tried to improve on Freud’s depression theory. However, his research led him to discover that errors logic is responsible for bringing about depression. This theory builds on the premise that the continuation of negative beliefs plays a role in determining an individual’s non-adaptive behavior.

The theory was later on developed when Albert Ellis combined “philosophy, humanism, and behavior therapy to come up with rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)” (Burger, 2008, p. 415). This theory involves “reorganizing the statements and beliefs of individuals to build congruence with their behavior” (Burger, 2008, p. 415).

It postulates that there is a relationship between “individual emotions, cognitions, and behaviors that bring about cause and effect in the way persons handle situations in life” (Burger, 2008, p. 415). It defines humans as persons born with the potential to think rationally or irrationally. This discretion in thinking brings about behaviors that many see as a problem without realizing that it is actually a consequence of faulty thinking (Burger, 2008, p. 415).

It argues that children start to think negatively when they start hearing and adopting negative ideas from parents. These negative ideas and thoughts are repeated over and over keeping alive “dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes and eventually affect the way the individuals behave” (Burger, 2008, p. 432). Therapists working in a multicultural setting can use this theory in teaching their patients to differentiating between their behavior and themselves as human beings.

If individuals learn to accept their different cultures regardless of the stereotypes others have placed on them, helps them to coexist freely with others. When counseling their patients, medical practitioners identify the irrational thinking in the patients and help them find ways of abandoning it so as to build an irrational attitude about life. There are many strengths of this theory. When used in therapy, it discourages patients to depend on their therapists by allowing them to identify the cause of the problem.

This give them control to change they way they handle the cause. This theory also enables persons to learn how to identify, and change the assumptions and beliefs that may expose them to mental stress and therefore, they will not need to visit a medical expert when the issue recurs. Cognitive behavior therapy is seen as the most effective and therefore the most sought after (Burger, 2008, p. 432).

However, therapists can use this theory to impose their biases and prejudices on patients. It is also criticized for accepting a patient’s judgment as accurate a situation that may leave the underlying issues unaddressed. The theory does not also look at an individual’s thoughts, but instead, dwells much on the thoughts of individuals which sometimes may be misleading.

It does not explain why individuals cling on to their beliefs. Those who access cognitive therapy have more often than not complained about the cost of the therapy. It requires many visits to the therapist in order for a patient learn and incorporate the skills needed to make the therapy successful.

This makes it inaccessible to many patients who may not have the funds. Sometimes even the insurance companies may not accept to meet the expenses. It is also argued that the therapy that uses this theory requires patients to have some certain intelligence in order to grasp what is involved and put it in action in order to achieve positive results. There are those people who may find it hard to connect thought patterns and actions making such a therapy not appropriate for them (Burger, 2008, p. 428).

Cognitive therapy appreciates that there are negative thoughts and behaviors that disturb the lives of people. Christianity also teaches about negative thoughts and beliefs and encourages people to avoid them. Cognitive theory also says that each person should be responsible for his or her actions, beliefs and misconceptions.

It also recognizes the fact that individuals should be left to make choices and be responsible for them. Christianity also allows people to make choices and judgments of what is wrong or right and accept their consequences. This therapy therefore works well with Christian doctrines.


Burger, J. M. (2008). Personality. New York, NY: Thomas Wadsworth.

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