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CBT vs ACT vs Psychodynamic therapy: What should we DO with our difficult thoughts and feelings?

Different therapeutic approaches have different ways of dealing with thoughts and feelings. It's interesting to think about what each approach has to offer. Let's take a brief look!

CBT tends to focus on CHALLENGING negative or 'irrational' thoughts and reframing them.

ACT advocates for avoiding a battle over the legitimacy or rationality of our thoughts, proposing that we should rather learn how to NOTICE and TOLERATE negative thoughts and feelings, so that we can focus on taking steps (behaviours/actions) that put us in the direction of leading a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Psychodynamic therapy highlights that our thoughts and feelings aren't always known to us, and that we often use a lot of mental energy keeping painful thoughts and feelings out of our conscious awareness. So therapy then focuses on helping clients UNCOVER, NOTICE, PROCESS/ WORK THROUGH their thoughts and feelings, so that mental energy is freed up for clients to engage in their life and relationships with greater choice and self-awareness.

Of course, this is a really simplified way of talking about the different approaches and what they do, but I hope it provides a useful overview for how to think about the mind and the different approaches to mental health.

Interestingly, there tends to be a lot of politics in the world of psychology between the different approaches. I actually find it quite ironic that the profession of Psychology lacks the self-awareness to recognise the splitting (a common defense mechanism) taking place within its own territory (making some approaches all good and others all bad)!

Personally, I think that each approach offers an important and unique perspective. There simply can't be a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone.

I think that different approaches are suitable for different clients, and some clients may need a combination of these approaches.

What do you think?


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