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Treatment and Therapies

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Mental disorders can be defined as the conditions that affect someone’s thinking, mood, and behavior. Examples of mental disorders include; depression, addictive behaviors, and schizophrenia. The methods that have been used to treat people with mental illness have both limited and long-term success. There are however three common approaches of treating a person with mental illness, they include; psychodynamic, biological and behavioral approaches.

Psychodynamic Approach

According to this approach, behavior is explained in terms of the forces that drive it. Sigmund Freud was the first to differ from the view that mental disorders are caused by physical disorders by rather proposing that mental disorders are caused by psychological factors (McLeod 2007). The psychodynamic psychologists work with the concept that if the cause of the symptoms were tackled, then the symptoms would cease to appear. The approach is, therefore, a focus on the importance of the unconscious mind and the early childhood experiences.

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The psychodynamic approach has been beneficial in establishing the cause of the problems affecting the patients. Psychoanalysis therapy has been used in some cases to help patients overcome psychological problems. The approach is, however, associated with various shortcomings regarding the lack of scientific validity as it is only based on Freud’s interpretation of his patients. Freud places too much emphasis on the childhood experiences and ignores adulthood experiences. It’s therefore evidently clear that the approach has failed to notice other factors that result in mental illness by majoring on childhood experiences.

There are three major approaches embedded in psychodynamic approach, they include; psychoanalysis, dream analysis, and free associations (Counselling Directory n.d.). The psychodynamic approach has been used to deal with cases of mental illness such as depression and anxiety. The psychodynamic approach assumes that our behavior and mind are controlled by our unconscious thoughts.

The ethical implication for this approach is fostering maturation in the therapist and the patient. The approach has however been criticized as the patient may only rely on the therapist. On the other hand, theories that are formed around this approach are different from those from other therapists.

The Behavioral Approach

Behaviorism assumes that behavior is primarily the result of the environment. The approach is a resentment of the view that abnormal behavior has a biological basis. The behaviorists stipulate that behavior is a coping mechanism to help us fit in with the world which is ever changing (McLeod 2010). Consequently, if a behavior is learnt, it can also be unlearnt.

The behavioral approach has successfully pointed on some disorders like phobias as result of faulty learning. Such an approach has proven to be a reliable method in that it uses scientific methods in research. Furthermore, it applies practical ways to change behavior. The approach has however been criticized as being very reductionist while dealing with abnormalities. A good example is where someone’s behavior that has been indicated as solely learnt fall under the genetically passed on ones, like phobias. In addition, it applies generalization in explaining some issues. Indeed, this approach uses some therapy methods that are only short-lived.

The behavioral approach uses therapy too as a method of treatment. It is further categorized into; systematic desensitization, aversion, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is a great discovery that enables therapists to assist patients to overcome addictions, obsessions and violent behaviors. Besides, it is based on the assumptions that behavior is learnt, which means that alcoholism, violence, homosexuality, smoking, and gambling can, therefore, be unlearnt.

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The theory has nevertheless raised ethical concerns on who should decide on which behavior should be changed. Its, therefore, clear that a practitioner may act unprofessionally regarding the standard behavior agreed through consensus to be the most appropriate.

The Biological Approach

This approach attempts to explain all behavior and experience in terms of genetics and physiology. It assumes that psychological problems have a physical cause. This, therefore, means that a psychological disorder may come into existence due the genes that a person inherits from the parents (Clause n.d.). In addition, it encompasses three approaches of therapy which include; chemotherapy (drug therapy), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and psychosurgery.

A wide variety of patients with mental disorders have been given a chance to live independently without having to stay in the hospital. The approach has also been successful in eradicating stigma associated with mental illness (McLeod 2017). Nevertheless, it has been associated with shortcomings which are based on the use of drugs. It has been verified that people develop dependency to the extent that they cannot survive without medication. The biological approach also fails by developing theories and then goes to generalizing them to apply to all people, people are rather unique.

This is a therapy which aims at treating mental disorders with medications such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and psychological disorders. This approach can, therefore, be said to deal with cases of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

The ethical implication of such an approach rests on the protection of patients from mental harm or deception. The patients have to be aware of the end result of the therapy and can withdraw at their own convenience. On the other hand, the approach has resulted in other issues associated with addiction.


All the approaches involve some kind of therapy. All the three approaches are correspondingly effective in helping respective mentally ill patients. Therapists may, therefore, apply the three approaches simultaneously when treating patients with mental disorders.

1. Clause, C n.d., Biological approach in psychology: Definition and Summary. Study.com. Available from < http://study.com/academy/lesson/biological-approach-in-psychology-definition-lesson-quiz.html> [23 October 2017].

2. Counselling Directory, n.d., Psychodynamic therapy. Counselling Directory. Available from < http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/psychodynamic-therapy.html> [23 October 2017].

3. McLeod, S 2007, Psychodynamic approach. Simply Psychology. Available from: <https://www.simplypsychology.org/psychodynamic.html> [23 October 2017].

4. McLeod, S 2017, Behaviorist approach. Simply Psychology. Available from: < https://www.simplypsychology.org/behaviorism.html> [23 October 2017].

5. McLeod, S A 2010, Behavioral Therapy. Available from: http://www.simplypsychology.org/behavioral-therapy.html  [23 October 2017].

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