We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Compare and Contrast Psychoanalytic, Humanistic, and Behavioral Therapy

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Psychoanalytic, Humanistic, and Behavioral are all psychotherapy which are techniques employed to improve psychological functioning and promote adjustment to life for every patients. The general goal is to help people gain greater control over and improvement in their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. These therapies are grouped together as insight therapies. Although their goals are similar, their approach is very different from each other.

Psychoanalytic therapy is use to bring the patient’s unconscious conflicts to consciousness. This will help the patient to discover his or her reasons for his or her abnormal behaviors. Once this insight occurs, the conflicts can be resolved and the patient can change to a better behavior. According to Freud to gain insight into the unconscious, the ego must be tricked into a relaxation state. There are five methods to use in this therapy: free association, dream analysis, analyzing resistance, analyzing transference, and interpretation.

Humanistic therapy focuses on removing obstacles that block personal growth and potential. This therapy helps the patient or client, according to Carl Rogers, to actualize their potential and relates to others in genuine ways. Humanistic therapists follow these four important qualities of communication to help the patient improve themselves: empathy, unconditional positive regard, genuineness, and active listening.

Behavior therapy is use learning principles to eliminate maladaptive behaviors and substitute healthy ones. It focuses on the problem behavior instead of the underlying cause. The techniques or methods used in this particular therapy are: classical conditioning techniques, including systematic desensitization (patient replaces anxiety with relaxation) and aversion therapy (an aversive stimulus is paired with a maladaptive behavior); operant conditioning techniques, including shaping and reinforcement; and observational learning techniques, including modeling therapy (patient watch and imitate positive role models).


“Humanistic psychology is regarded as the “Third Force”, Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism being the first two”*. Humanism at some points agrees with the other two forces in ‘human psychology’ (note that I used word human, it is explained in the conclusion section), and differs from them widely on some other points. “HUMANISTIC approaches to personality rely upon FIELD-THEORY ORIENTATION, a HOLISTIC view of personality, and empathise personal experience, growth, motivation, and SELF-ACTUALIZATION.”** Thus as per Philip G. Zimbardo, humanism gives central place to man and his/her ‘subjectivity’. But, “humanistic psychology doesn’t deny values, intentions and meaning…”***

What’s the need of its comparisons? Its comparison with Psychoanalysis and Behaviourism, as per a scholar, ‘further enlightens its features’.

Humanism vs. Psychoanalysis

Humanism views man basically ‘good’ in nature. “Humanistic Psychology shares with psychoanalytic theory the belief that humans are endowed with innate needs and desires, but it differs from psychoanalysis in its assumption that the core of human nature is kindly, cooperative, and prosocial.”**** It is no surprise that psychoanalysis project our inner being as dark and pessimistic that we tread to mention them. Whereas humanism denies this projection as baseless.

Humanism vs. Behaviourism

What Humanistic psychology shares with behaviorism is the “belief that humans can expand their interest and activities in an almost infinite variety of direction but, it differs from behaviorism in its assumption that an inner self freely initiates many of these choices.”***** Dr. Nazir Qaiser adds in his A Critque of Western Psychology…., “To humanists man is not a machine and robot.”

It is worth mentioning, why behaviorists consider man a sole function of his environment/learning/conditioning, when they are very scientific in their methodology? Writers like S. Covey and Barbara Engler have quoted the same experiment carried out by the behaviorists, which led them to the preceding conclusion I questioned. It was the Skinner Box or operant conditioning chamber experiment and like many others. What the results of this experiment suggest is that it’s not the ‘person’ rather “the variables and forces in the environment that influence a person,”****** and BEHAVIOURISM/RADICAL BEHAVIOURISM is founded on this principle. That there is no world of Selfhood poet-philosopher Iqbal conceives of (I may write an articale on it in future). That man is not a proactive animal, only reactive. That although he can learn from the enviornment, he has not capacity of unlearning it.

Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow are two great upholders (that doesn’t mean that they’re “great”) of humanism. They and other humanists “suggest that the study of neurotics or infrahuman species is not particularly enlightening for the study of the personality.”******* And, then the dividing line is drawn in the following sentences by Barbara Engler. A difference so important that it gives birth to two utterly different and wholly differentiable streams of paradigms of thought, which later on translate into concrete actions. (Thus, knowledge precedes action.) The missing link: as Barbara Engler writes, “There is a radical difference between a rat in a Skinner box, and a human being in the every day world.”******* I must repeat the difference of opinion between Humanism and Behaviorism here in case you’re if lost in thoughts: “Humanism differs from behaviorism in its assumption that an inner self freely initiates many of the choices [he has at his disposal].” That, as Stephen Covey says, between operant enviormental influences/stimulus and the consequential action/reaction lies a quality only man on earth possess is his own ‘free will’. A freedom of initiation.


What may lie beyond Humanism must be probed as Humanistic Psychology is centered on human beings only. I do not mean to say that animal psychology must be linked with human psychology, because there lies a concrete difference in both these fields of study for man is blessed with rationality and animal is not. Yet, there can be other things which have a one-to-one/direct relationship with human psychology. And, the study of which may yield benefits, be it of health or understanding.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59