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Dr. Beverley Marais  DPsych  CPsychol  CSci  AFBPsS  UKCP reg.  HCPC reg.  FDAP


There are many types of psychotherapy used to solve psychological disorders. Two of the most popular are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a short term therapy that can treat a wide range of issues such as anxiety, relationship struggles, stress, depression and others.

A typical session will last for 50 minutes where the therapist and client set an agenda. The client will also be invited to complete homework tasks. Essentially, we have hundreds of thoughts going through our minds each day. By beginning to monitor our thoughts, we then become aware of patterns to our thinking and learn about the thoughts we tend to pay most attention to. For example, someone suffering from depression would focus primarily on their negative thoughts and therefore interpret events in a negative way. Likewise, they would also dismiss or diminish any positive connotations an event may have.

CBT is currently one of the most popular types of therapy and has a large evidence base. It began in the 1960’s when psychiatrist, Aaron T. Beck, noticed that his clients would only be telling him a fraction of what was running through their internal dialogue. This then developed into cognitive therapy, and extended to modify behaviours. Since its creation, CBT has undergone many scientific studies and has been proven to be an effective form of treatment for many clinical presentations.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a medium to long term therapeutic model which can be used to treat similar issues as CBT. Through the use of the therapeutic relationship, the therapist assists the individual in discovering the unconscious meaning and motives underlying what it is that drives them to do the things they do. Psychodynamic therapy works at a deeper level, fostering changes that affect the make up of the personality.

A typical session of psychodynamic psychotherapy will involve the client talking about and reflecting on issues in their lives, with the guidance of the therapist. Patterns of relating will emerge within the therapeutic relationship and these are processed and worked through during the course of therapy.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy developed out of Freudian psychoanalytic theory and encompasses various dynamic models within it, such as attachment theory and object relations. It has also been researched and proven to be an effective form of treatment for many conditions.

Which One?

While both are effective, CBT may appeal to you more if you prefer a more structured approach and focus mostly on the here and now, whereas psychodynamic psychotherapy may appeal to you more should you believe you may benefit from a more reflective stance. It would be most helpful in the first instance to discuss the different models and ways of working with your therapist.

For further reading:

Psychodynamic Therapy -

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy -

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