Psychology theories therapists want you to know about
If you’re looking for a therapist, this is the list of psychology theories you need to know. It’s not exhaustive, but we’ve included the main ones that are most important for therapists to understand when working with their clients.
The id, ego, and superego.
The id, ego, and superego. This is a classic Freudian model of personality that has been used by therapists for decades. It describes three different parts of your mind:
- The id (unconscious) – The part of you that wants pleasure and avoids pain. It’s like an animalistic instinctual part of yourself that operates on basic needs like hunger or sex without any consideration for morality or social norms.
- The ego (conscious) – Your rational side. Your ability to make decisions based on logic rather than just following your feelings all the time. Also known as your executive function since it controls many other aspects of behavior including impulse control and self-control
Cognitive dissonance is a state of tension that occurs whenever beliefs or behaviors are contradictory. The theory of cognitive dissonance was first proposed by Leon Festinger in 1957, who studied a cult that believed the end of the world was coming soon. When predictions failed to come true, members were asked why they hadn’t left the cult yet. And they responded with statements like “I’m waiting for my orders from God.”
In other words: They were able to reconcile their beliefs (that the world would end soon) with new information (that it didn’t). This ability to change one’s mind in light of conflicting evidence is called cognitive flexibility. And helps us avoid getting stuck in ruts or repeating mistakes over and over again. Which is pretty important if you want your life as an adult human being on Earth go smoothly!
In 1956, psychologist Jack Brehm developed a theory that explains how people react when they feel threatened. The theory is called reactance theory. And it explains how people will act defensively when they believe their freedom is being threatened.
Brehm studied college students who were told that they couldn’t do something–whether it was watch TV or eat chocolate cake. And found that those students reacted defensively by doing exactly what they’d been told not to do! For example, if you tell your friend not to eat any more ice cream because she’s had too much already (and this is important). There’s a good chance she’ll eat even more ice cream just because you told her not to!
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
This theory was created by Abraham Maslow, who wanted to understand why people behave the way they do. He believed that humans have needs and these needs must be met before a person can move on to higher levels of thinking or functioning.
The hierarchy is represented as a pyramid with five layers: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization (the top layer). The lower levels must be satisfied before moving up the pyramid. For example if you don’t have enough food to eat then your physiological needs won’t be met so you won’t be able to focus on anything else until those are taken care of first!
Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development.
Freud’s Character Types.
In Freud’s model, the human personality is divided into three parts: the id (unconscious, instinctual), ego (rational) and superego (conscience). The id is driven by our most basic needs and desires; it wants what it wants when it wants it. The ego acts as a mediator between these two forces–it keeps us safe from harm while also trying to meet our needs in socially acceptable ways. The superego is an internalized set of moral values that helps guide your actions according to what’s right or wrong according to society at large.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” then this should sound familiar: Captain Jean-Luc Picard always had his three points of reference when making decisions on the bridge of USS Enterprise–“Starfleet regulations,” “the prime directive” (an order prohibiting interference with developing civilizations) and finally whether or not something was “the right thing for humanity.” These were all examples of how he used his own internalized moral code known as conscience or superego in order make difficult choices while serving under pressure during missions with no time for debate due constraints imposed by external forces such as laws passed down from governing bodies like United Federation Council which could override even Starfleet regulations if need be…
Freud’s Defense Mechanisms.
- Freud’s defense mechanisms are strategies we use to protect ourselves from anxiety and distress.
- They aren’t always healthy, however; in fact, they can be harmful.
- Examples of defense mechanisms include denial (“I don’t care about this!”), repression (forgetting about something unpleasant), regression (becoming childish or immature), displacement (“I’m mad at my boss for yelling at me today so I’m going to yell at my partner”), projection (taking one’s own feelings onto others) and intellectualization (stating facts without emotion).
Jungian archetypes are universal symbols that represent the building blocks of our personalities. They are present in the collective unconscious, which is a part of our minds that is shared by all humans and contains elements of personality, memory and imagination.
Jungian archetypes include:
- The Hero (the main character who overcomes obstacles)
- The Shadow (a dark side or opposite)
Some of these may be familiar to you, but all have something important to teach.
You’ve probably heard of many of these theories. It’s important to know that not all therapists work with the same ones. The specific school of thought a therapist subscribes to will determine which models they use when diagnosing and treating their patients. This can sometimes lead to confusion for those who want to better understand how a given therapy works. But there’s no need for alarm! As long as you know what each theory is trying achieve (and why). Then picking one up won’t be too hard at all.
Theories are helpful not just because they can help us understand ourselves better.They’re also useful in helping us understand others as well! For example: if someone tells you something about themselves that doesn’t seem right or accurate based on your own experiences with them, looking into which psychological school(s) might shed some light on this discrepancy may give insight into why such discrepancies exist between individuals’ self-perceptions versus reality (or vice versa).
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand some of the most important theories in psychology. Each one has contributed something unique to our understanding of human behavior and how it can be changed. I hope you find these ideas useful as you work with clients. Whether it’s by using cognitive dissonance theory or Maslow’s hierarchy of needs!
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