Lecture: Therapy I: Psychodynamic Therapy
Reading Assignment 28:
Psychodynamic Therapy
Click for the objectives for Reading Assignment 28

The twenty-eighth reading assignment introduces students to Psychoanalysis. It will go in detail to discuss the methods and tools used in Psychoanalysis, and some of the different types of Psychoanalysis used today.

Sigmund Freud was the first person to develop the theory behind Psychoanalysis. However, since that time, it has been revised by what many have referred to as Neo-Freudian psychologist. One of the most important aspects that need to be understood about this approach is to acknowledge that development is thought to be derived primarily by childhood experiences; thus any form of therapy or explanation of behavior will often be driven by a search for significant childhood experiences. Psychoanalysis also holds that (1) human behavior is driven by unconscious and irrational drives, (2) attempts to bring such drives to ones’ awareness will elicit one or more Defense Mechanisms, (3) Conflicts between Conscious and Unconscious motives can lead to maladaptive behavior, (4) and resolving such Conflict will relieve the maladaptive behavior.

Psychoanalytic Threats and Tools
The effectiveness of Psychoanalysis is thought to depend a great deal on the Therapeutic Alliance. The task of exploring the unconscious irrational drives that will prompt the use of Defense Mechanisms can only be addressed with a trusted therapist. Some clients, however, would still display Resistance through one or more Defense Mechanisms. Resistance can show itself in a number of ways in different people. For example, I have a personal friend that has, what I believe to be, a nervous laugh. This individual behaves as if they do not have the ability to filter their thoughts before they speak and, as a result, often says things that they should not. When comments are stated that should not be shared publicly they are often followed by a nervous laugh, as if they were a joke.

Another factor that could interfere with successful Psychoanalysis is Transference. As a result, the secret to success of many instances of therapy is the skillful analysis of Transference. Freud theorized that clients in psychotherapy tend to interact with the therapist much the same way they interact with other people in their lives. Therefore, when a husband is dismissive, disrespects, and talks over his therapist it might serve as a clue as to how he behaves with others in his life. Freud thought that Transference could also be rooted in childhood experiences and feelings which in turn are displaced into ones’ adult relationships. Therefore, a client who had experienced abuse and hostile criticism in their childhood might interpret the therapist’s constructive criticism as attacks upon oneself.

Threats such as Resistance and Transference might best be combated with Interpretation. It will prove useful for the client to understand that their actions might be the result of factors unknown or not apparent to them. Interpretation of the client’s unconscious Conflicts. The resolving of unconscious Conflicts is important, as they can evolve into Compromise Formations. An extension of Interpretation is the use of Dream Interpretation. Freud believed that a lot of our unconscious desires and impulses of the Id are expressed in our dreams, which he referred to as Wish Fulfillment. However, there underlying motives are not readily apparent to the dreamer. To understand the process of Dream Interpretation, it is important to understand two concepts: Manifest Content and Latent Content. Clients would be instructed to write down the details or Manifest Content of their dreams immediately after waking up. Since the Id operates on an associative level and motives dreams, the therapist must analyze important pieces and symbols reported from the dream. Only after skill analysis of the correct segments can a therapist arrive at the Latent Content of a dream.

Possibly one of the first tools proposed by Psychoanalysis is that of Free Association. Using this technique, the therapist is able to explore the associative processes that exist in the individual. This is done by having the patient speak freely about whatever comes to their mind. This may be used as a prompted or unprompted tool. A prompted techniques occurs when the therapist might provide the patient with a list of words and ask the patient to respond to each of them with the first thing that comes to mind, while an unprompted technique might permit the patient to initiate the dialogue based on whatever is present on their mind at the time – which is assumed to be influenced by Unconscious motives.

Types of Psychoanalysis
Two types of Psychoanalysis will be addressed in this reading assignment. While they do differ slightly, they both have a lot in common. Among other things, they both believe that symptoms stem from three possible causes: (1) abnormal ways of viewing oneself, one’s relationships, and others, (2) unconscious conflicts and negotiations among opposing desires and fears, and (3) abnormal ways of coping with unwanted feelings.

The first type of Psychoanalysis is Psychoanalytic Therapy. This is a powerful form of therapy and the client meets with their therapist anywhere from three to five times a week. One thing Freud is famous for is the Therapeutic Couch. He would have his clients talk to him while lying down on the couch, which was thought to help the client relax. This type of therapy relies heavily on the client talking about whatever comes to their mind, also known as Free Association.

The second type of Psychoanalysis is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. The client typically meets with their therapist one to three times a week. Although the techniques used are similar to psychoanalysis, the content of the session is more goal-oriented. As a result, many therapists prefer that the client not lay on a couch but rather sit face-to-face with the therapist. This type of therapy is well-suited for clients who are looking for therapy that is less time-consuming and more affordable.


Draft of Summary
Lewis, J. (2012, Spring). Draft of summary submitted in partial fulfillment of Introduction to Experimental (RPS 410).

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