Psychodynamic therapy is an offshoot of psychoanalytical theories in that it derives from them the common premise that an individual’s inner conflicts, which manifest in their everyday behaviour, may often not be visible to themselves, by virtue of being rooted deep in their unconscious. Freudian psychoanalysis is best known for presenting some empirical stress on the abstract concept of the unconscious, defining as something that has a clear and visible effect on behaviour, especially as seen through maladaptive coping mechanisms. Psychodynamic theories focus on this aspect of the past that exists in the present.
Bowenian family therapy relies on theories of family systems. The main premise is, again, somewhat based on the traditional psychoanalytic premise, that in which early experience shapes the individual. The family systems theory emphasises the influence of the domestic family unit on the development, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of an individual. In other words, it approaches maladaptive behaviours as being rooted in a dysfunctional family upbringing. Accordingly, some of the most common techniques involved are differentiation (of the individual, and her role as a person, from the rest of the family), providing a multi-generational lens (which exhibits that not only does the past history of the family have an effect that is visible now, but that this impact continues, even now). In contrast, experiential family therapy on the individual herself in her entirety, and not just as a part of the family. Derived from existential and phenomenological theories, experiential theories focus on the individual potential for experience, helping her unlock and face her emotions. For instance, take the case of a man who’s wife has just had an affair. Bowenian therapy would focus on the roots of of family pathology that that could have led to this, the man’s own insecurities from the past, and so on. Experiential therapy would focus more on letting the man face his betrayal, anger, and express his sadness.