Clinical psychology basically uses three main basic theoretical models with the main aim of understanding human behavior. These approaches are also used to aid in formulating research plans, assessments as well as treatment options. The approaches are: Psychodynamic, Humanistic and Cognitive behavioral. Although many psychologists may align themselves in using a single approach, it is becoming more important for the combined use of these perspectives in order to have an in depth knowledge and assist one another in this field of clinical psychology (Plante, 2005).
The Psychodynamic approach is the brain child of Sigmund Freud. It often maintains certain assumptions such as “the human mind is influenced by intrapsychic drives, motives, conflicts and impulses which are primarily unconscious (p 118). The techniques used in this approach include associating freely with the patient to investigate their underlying motivations which Freud described as being unconscious.
The Humanistic approach was coined by humanist thinkers Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow respectively. This approach is usually based on the technique of critically analyzing the patient with the main aim of helping people realize their full potential. Self actualization plays a major part in this approach.
The cognitive psychology approach originated from the school of thought which was drafted by pioneers such as Max Wertheimer, Jean Piaget, and Kurt Koffka among others. The term cognitive psychology was however coined by Ulric Neisser through his famous 1967 book Cognitive Psychology. Psychologists using this approach will basically concentrate on the patients’ feelings, visual processing, memory and thinking among other mental attributes. One of its highlights is that it allows of use of scientific methods and this means that this method has no room for introspection. This system provides an alternative of Freud’s psychodynamic approach in that it is not symbol driven (Lealey, 2007).
Although most of these approaches may be effective, there has been need to integrate them in order to enhance the chances of success in the world of clinical psychology. Psychologists are nowadays keen on analyzing which of these systems as well as others in order to establish the strengths and weaknesses of each system. With this approach, it has been argued that clinical psychology will be very effective in years to come (Plante, 2005).