Psychodynamic Theory and Cognitive Theory Mental Health Theories – Sample Paper

Psychodynamic Theory and Cognitive Theory Mental Health Theories – Sample Paper

Mental health is an important part of the overall health of a person. The World Health Organization (WHO) succinctly captures this fact in its definition of health, which states that health is not only an absence of disease, but rather the complete presence of physical, emotional, social, and mental health. In an attempt to provide help to mental health patients, psychologists use various theories that are geared towards understanding the patients better. As a result, the patients receive the most appropriate care that is tailored toward their unique challenges. Psychodynamic theory and the cognitive theory are two of the most popular theories that are used by psychologists and therapists.


The psychodynamic theory holds that a person’s behavior and actions are determined by the individual’s life experiences. According to the theory, no human behavior is accidental. The basis of this line of thought is that human action is founded on past experiences that the person has had (Guntrip, 2018). As people have different past experiences, their interaction shapes an individual’s actions and behavior in a dynamic manner. In applying this knowledge during therapy, psychologists ask patients to narrate their thoughts and feelings. This approach helps in uncovering unconscious events that are in constant play in the patient’s mind. The patient’s behavior and response during therapy sessions help the psychologist to fully diagnose the patient’s problem. The cognitive theory, on the other hand, posits that cognitive processes control a person’s actions, behavior, thoughts, and feelings (Weeland et al., 2017). This theory is useful in understanding the attitudes and the assumptions that patients have, and how they impact on their behavior. Psychologists use this theory to identify inaccurate attitudes that wrongly influence a person’s decisions.

The psychodynamic theory and the cognitive theory share a number of similarities. Both consider a person’s past experience to be integral in influencing their current actions and behavior. This view is important in the proper diagnosis of a mental health patient, as well as in proper management of their condition. The two theories also use a similar approach in the diagnosis of patients. Therapists ask patients to narrate their feelings and give an account of their actions in the use of the two theories. This method enables them to make appropriate conclusions on the patients’ needs, and be able to respond to them appropriately.

However, the two theories have a few differences in their application. The psychodynamic theory overwhelmingly focuses on a person’s past experiences. The patient is required to provide important events in their lives that happened in the past. These events are then analyzed to see their link with the patient’s current state. Although past experiences also play a part in cognitive theory, the primary focus is on the patient’s current state of mind, as well as their current attitudes and assumptions that impact on their emotions and thoughts. Another difference is that psychodynamic theory focuses on a person’s actions, while cognitive theory concentrates on the patient’s feelings.

Psychodynamic theory and cognitive theory are extensively used by psychologists in the management of mental patients. Nurses can also apply these theories to understand mental health patients better and provide them with suitable care. The two theories help in diagnosis, as well as in devising the correct mode of treatment. The use of these theories in mental health counseling is effective as they combine various useful approaches that suit various types of patients.

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