Psychodynamic and Cognitive Theories

Topic: Applied Psychology
Words: 612 Pages: 2

Theoretical Orientation Paper As of now, there are various approaches in psychology, and clinicians tend to apply different theories in different cases. Among the approaches that are the most applicable are the psychodynamic theory along with cognitive theory. While there are specific similarities in these approaches that lie within their foundation, there are also differences that make them helpful only in particular situations, depending on the patient and their issue.

Psychodynamic theory is a group of concepts highlighting the relevance of impulses and elements, notable subconscious desires, in an individual’s cognition. The term psychodynamic theory refers to the theoretical basis of Freud’s concepts, as well as the ones provided by Jung and Erikson (Guntrip, 2018). As per the theory, childhood events set the foundation for personality structure and interactions (Guntrip, 2018). In order to dive deeper into the essence of the concept, first, it should be mentioned that the theory in question takes into account the influence of childhood on the mature brain and mental wellbeing. Secondly, it delves into the fundamental motivations that influence human actions. The psychodynamic theory covers perspectives of the nature/nurture argument.

In turn, the cognitive theory is recognized as an approach in psychology that focuses on emotions and their triggers or through processes. According to the theory in question, the basic determinants of emotional states are thoughts (Leahy, 2017). This brain process is commonly referred to as information processing. The manner in which the person’s brain works is compared to that of a machine by scientists (Leahy, 2017). Behaviorism, another paradigm of psychology, is challenged by basic cognitive theory since it simplifies complicated human behavior to simplistic causality (Leahy, 2017). Clinicians use it to manage anxiety and other psychiatric issues. It is largely concerned with how humans learn to copy other people’s conduct.

When it comes to the similarities between the therapies, it can be said that both claim that transformation might emerge via the discovery of patterns analogous to drawing the unconscious into conscious awareness. As for the differences, the difference lies within the perception of influencing factors, which are prior events in one case and thinking in another. In this respect, psychodynamic psychologists and researchers rely on Freudian principles such as the unconscious and the effect of early events. On the other hand, the cognitive perspective is concerned with mental functions such as memory, cognition, concentration, observation, and consciousness. Due to the apparent development of improved experimental procedures and the juxtaposition in how people and machines interpret information, cognitive perspective evolved as a reaction to the behavioral approach’s focus on outer activity.

When considering the most optimal approach in the emergency department and dealing with mental health adolescent patients, it can be stated that the cognitive approach can be most beneficial. In such situations, the goal of a clinician is to assess the patient’s state. Evaluating the individual based on Freudian concepts that involve childhood trauma can be not only an inefficient but a long process. In this respect, assessing the situation and emotions of the patient from the perspective of thinking can lead to the most effective results since the clinician will be able to navigate the individual via the process and give the best recommendations.

Hence, psychodynamic and cognitive theories are two approaches in psychology. The former is a set of concepts that rely on viewing the person’s behavior from the perspective of childhood experiences. The latter concentrates on thoughts that correlate with behavior. Thus, the similarity is in the discovery of patterns, and the difference is in the assessment approach. At this point, the cognitive theory is the most optimal decision n the emergency department when dealing with mental health adolescent patients.


Guntrip, H. Y. (2018). Personality structure and human interaction: The developing synthesis of psychodynamic theory. Routledge.

Leahy, R. L. (2017). Cognitive therapy techniques: A practitioner’s guide. Guilford Publications.

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