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Psychological Schools of Thought

While many psychological theories of thought and practice are included in our curriculum, the precepts and values of humanistic psychology are foundational in MSP’s approach to the development of master and doctoral level clinicians.  As you research colleges and universities to find the right graduate school for you, we encourage you to review various psychological approaches. Below is a brief overview of the primary perspectives and although humanistic psychology is foundational at MSP, the degree programs provide a broad overview of multiple perspectives.

Humanistic Perspective

  • Emphasizes the personal worth and dignity of the individual
  • Strives for a holistic understanding of the person
  • Contemporary Humanistic Psychology recognizes that a deep respect for multicultural competence supersedes clinical competence.
  • Understands personal growth and fulfillment as motivations for change
  • Places prominent value on the subjective experience of the individual
  • Values individual experience in lieu of scientific experiments where humans are often viewed as subjects

Behavioral Perspective

  • Emphasizes overt measurable behavior over thoughts and emotions
  • Believes behavior can be influenced or changed by manipulating the environment and/or through the use of behavioral reinforcement
  • Focuses on antecedents of an undesirable behavior and how that antecedent behavior effects a response

Psychodynamic Perspective

  • Emphasizes how past events influence the individual in the present and future
  • Believes thoughts, feelings, and behavior are controlled by unconscious drives and experiences
  • Asserts that people have little free will because of influence from past experience
  • Promotes understanding of human behavior as influenced by sexual drives or motives, based on theories of psychosexual development

Cognitive Perspective

  • Operates from a position of collaboration with the client to formulate goals and to actively work on problems.
  • Believes people’s perceptions of and automatic thoughts about situations influence their emotional, behavioral and physiological reactions
  • Believes people can learn how to identify negative automatic thoughts, underlying assumptions, and core beliefs that influence their view of self and others




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