There are many different types of therapies that can be utilized where mental health needs are concerned. Each falls into different categories of therapy and uses varying techniques to reach their end goal-a healthy state of being for the individual seeking help. Many therapies fall under umbrella titles, and some are better known by one name over another. Insight oriented Psychotherapy is one such case. Below we learn about insight oriented therapy, including its other name, a little history, how it is used, and how this type of therapy is used in various therapeutic environments.

The history behind insight oriented therapy

As noted previously, Insight oriented therapy is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of different therapy techniques that have similarities in theory and thoughts. Insight oriented therapy is also more commonly known as Psychodynamic therapy. This type of therapy has its roots in psychoanalytic theory, which has been around for quite some time. There are four major schools of psychoanalytic therapy, each having its own particular influence on psychodynamic theory. These four schools include Freudian theory, Ego Psychology, Object Relations, and Self Psychology.

Freudian Theory (psychology):

The name Sigmund Freud is a very well-known one in the mental health and psychology fields. Freudian psychology is based on the theories originally formulated by Sigmund Freud. Freud is often labeled the “Father of Psychoanalysis,” and he laid the groundwork for many forms of mental health therapies still in use today. Freud introduced psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic (psychodynamic) theories.

Freud believed that the development of mental disorders are a result of unconscious conflicts (meaning we do not know they are happening) within a person. Freud believed that human personal development is based on inborn (largely sexual in nature) drives that exist in everyone. He also believed the mind was divided into three parts, known as the Id, Ego, and Superego. When combined together as a whole functioning entity, these three parts represent the energies within a person. To adequately describe the functions of the Id, Ego, and Superego, as described by Freud, has comprised many books, so we shall provide a very abbreviated synopsis.

The cliff notes version of Freud’s theory is that sexual and aggressive energies that operate in the id (our unconscious mind, which is present from birth) are controlled by the ego. The id is the part of our mind that comprises biological urges for things such as food, water, elimination, warmth, affection, and of course, sex. The id strives to achieve and satisfy its desires through the manifestation of the pleasure principle. The ego, which again attempts to rein in the id, develops during the second half of the first year of life. The ego is the set of energies that moderates the tenuous existence between what the id wants and what external reality dictates are acceptable. The ego also produces defense mechanisms in an effort to minimize the pain associated with the failures of the id and to maintain emotional equilibrium. The ego operates on the reality principle. The final piece to the puzzle, according to Freud, is the superego. This part of our mind is formed a little later in life (between age five and puberty) and controls the id through the use of guilt as opposed to logical reasoning (as with the ego). The superego operates more or less as the person’s conscience. The superego acts more on the basis of influence from outside sources such as society and family.

Ego Psychology:

As the name may logically indicate, ego psychology is derived from the ideas of Freudian psychology. Those who subscribe to this school of thought focus their work on enhancing and maintaining the functions of the ego in accordance with the demands imposed by reality. This school of thought stresses and individual’s capacity for defense, adaptation, and reality testing.

Object Relations Psychology

The idea behind object relations psychology is that humans are always shaped in relation to the significant others who surround us. Our life goals and struggles focus on maintaining our relationships with others while, at the same time, differentiating ourselves from others.

Self Psychology

This theory was founded in the 1950s by Heinz Kohut. Kohut observed that the idea of self refers to a person’s perception of his/her experiences of self, including the presence or lack of sense of self-esteem. The “self” is perceived in relation to the establishment of boundaries and the differentiation of self from others (or the lack of these same boundaries)

Each of these four schools of psychoanalytic theory presents discrete ideas of personality formation, psychopathology formation, and change. They also exhibit differences in the techniques used to conduct therapy as well as indications and contraindications for therapy.

How insight oriented therapy works

Insight oriented therapy or psychomimetic therapy is distinguished from psychoanalysis in several ways, including the fact that psychodynamic therapy does not require the use of all available analytic techniques. Additionally, it is not always conducted by psychoanalytically trained analysists and can be conducted over a shorter period with less frequency than some forms of psychoanalysis.

This type of therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in the person’s present behaviors. The goals of insight oriented therapy are for the client to achieve self-awareness and develop an understanding of how the past influences their present behavior. A psychodynamic approach strives to enable an individual to examine unresolved conflicts as well as symptoms that arise from those conflicts and past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in the need and desire to abuse substances.

Types of insight oriented therapy

Over time, several different approaches to psychodynamic therapy have evolved from the original psychoanalytic theory, as presented by Freud. Insight oriented therapy operates on the assumption that the better you know yourself, the better you will be able to function. This type of psychotherapy works for teaching people how and why they function in the ways they do and to help clarify the motivations behind a person’s actions. Most research sources refer to four types of insight therapy. These include psychoanalysis, cognitive therapies, humanistic therapies and group, family, and marital therapies.

Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic therapy-

We have already covered the history of this type of therapy, along with a little about how the process works so, and we won’t go into significant detail and repeat the same information. What we will address here are some of the techniques used by practitioners as part of this type of therapy. These can include:

Free association– a practice where the participant is asked to share thoughts, words freely, and anything else that comes to mind regardless of their coherency. 

Dream analysis– the interpretation of dreams to determine their underlying meaning. Freudian dream analysis relies on symbolism and is based on the idea that your unconscious protects you from repressed desires by expressing them in dreams as opposed to allowing your conscious mind to see them.

Analyzing resistance– a procedure in which the patients desire to maintain repression of unconscious impulses and experiences which interfere with free association is subjected to scrutiny.

Analyzing transference- the interpretation of a patient’s early relationships and experiences as they are reflected in their present relationships.

Interpretation- a process by which the therapist helps the patient explore memories and personal narratives in detail.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapies focus on faulty thought patterns and faulty beliefs. The direction of therapy centers around how to change these faulty and potentially faulty patterns. Through talking and communication about negative behaviors and feelings, it is believed that a person will be able to change their own outcomes. There are two main types of cognitive therapy which include-

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)-this therapy was developed by Albert Ellis. The idea behind the therapy is to help decrease self-defeating beliefs by rational examining personal beliefs and consequences.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)- developed by Aaron Beck, this therapy encourages people to confront their behaviors head-on and learn about ways to change those behaviors, so they are more beneficial.

Humanistic therapy

Humanistic therapies focus on individual growth and emotional reconstruction. The idea behind this therapy is that a person is blocking their own natural growth potential. The consequence of this blockage is that the person becomes self-destructive. Some of the techniques used in this form of therapy include practicing skills such as active listening, genuineness, unconditional positive regard, and empathy.

Group, family and marital therapies

These therapies share methodologies for helping groups or family units who share the same issues.

Group therapy- This therapy involves a group of people who are interested in the same outcome of treatment. This type of therapy can be conducted in an outpatient or inpatient residential setting, depending on the needs of the individuals attending the group.

Family therapy- This type of therapy involves the entire family unit. Family therapy is used where there is a problem with the family dynamic, such as abuse, or divorce and the most beneficial outcomes are likely to be achieved through the entire group working together towards a common goal.

Marital therapy- This type of therapy works with married couples to help them work through issues they have been unsuccessful in resolving privately. This type of therapy is designed to help the couple work through their issues by learning effective ways to communicate and effective forms of conflict resolution.

When insight therapy is successful

Insight oriented therapy focuses on helping the patient understand how their beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and experiences from the past are negatively impacting their present state of mind. Insight therapy is used quite commonly in a variety of mental health treatments in various settings. Some common emotional and mental health issues that insight oriented therapies are used to address are

  • Struggles with interpersonal relationships-This can include ongoing struggles with maintaining relationships with friends, relatives, co-workers, and other people with whom the patient interacts frequently.
  • Issues with self-esteem- Sometimes self-esteem issues are the result of childhood trauma that has not been dealt with. In other cases, it can be the result of someone’s existing environment and the people they surround themselves with. Insight therapy can help to address these issues and also potentially reduce the risk of more significant mental health concerns related to self-esteem, including disordered eating, self-harming behavior, and similar concerns.
  • Depression- Depression can stem from a wide variety of past and current emotional situations. The failure to address these issues can lead to stronger negative symptoms and additional mental health concerns.
  • Some other issues that can be addressed with various forms of insight oriented therapy can include anxiety, obsessive-compulsive (and other compulsion related) disorders, disordered eating, and some forms of traumatic stress disorders.

Where to seek treatment

Parent Intake - Insight Oriented Therapy - Hillcrest

Insight-oriented therapies can take place in a wide variety of settings. For many individuals, an outpatient setting in a private therapist’s office may be suitable for their needs. A therapist who is trained in the various techniques associated with psychoanalysis can determine the best treatment modality for the individual needs of the patient. Part of the treatment plan will address the frequency and duration of the visits.

For other individuals, a residential facility such as Hillcrest may prove to be more beneficial than an outpatient setting. At Hillcrest, we offer a variety of private and group therapy sessions. If the individual who is seeking treatment is comfortable in a group or could be better served in a group, they will be afforded the opportunity to be with, work with and learn with individuals who share a common need and common goal. If private sessions are preferred, those are available throughout the day as well. Regardless of the format (individual or group), our highly trained providers will develop and tailor a treatment plan specific to the needs of you and/or your family member. Hillcrest even offers family treatment options for situations in which bringing the entire family together could be most helpful. We offer a highly experienced team of mental health practitioners, medical providers, and dieticians, who are all part of the dedicated team brought together to help your family member achieve their personal emotional goals.

The idea of psychological treatment can be challenging to wrap one’s head around. There are so many different schools of thought, types of treatment, treatment methods, and delivery options. It is easy to see how getting headed in the right direction can be scary. Let our staff at Hillcrest help you. Give us a call or come in for a tour where we can help you understand how treatments differ and help you to determine which route is best for your family member.