Unwind Relationships

2020-09-27T01:55:00-07:00

Psychodynamic vs Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

 Question 1: Compare and contrast Psychodynamic and Psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

Psychoanalysis originated during the late 19th century with the birth of Dr.Sigmund Freud in Freiberg. At that time, Victorian age was giving way to a more scientific, revolutionary and warred Europe governed by ‘moralistic sensibilities’. Both the Great War & Victorian ethos significantly shaped psychoanalysis. For whosoever knows history a bit, it is not hard to imagine why psychoanalysis developed to be so deterministic and dynamic in nature. To be able to create radical views and survive in that era, it was mandatory to be inflexible where nothing could be left for chance. 

Psychodynamic vs Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy


Freud’s romantic heritage impressed upon his mind the inevitability of profound conflict between the person, his self (unconscious) and the society, giving a pessimistic edge to psychoanalysis. Also its roots being embedded in medicines, the concept of drives and instincts was central to this school. These aspects that form the basis of psychoanalysis were also the reasons that psychodynamic school of thought emerged. Many people, who worked with Freud, wanted to adapt a less intensive style of working. 

Psychoanalysts like Jung (1964) and Kline espoused a ‘two person psychology’, where a client’s functioning was not completely determined by early experiences rather gave importance to attachments and initial family experiences and collective unconscious. Instead of solely giving importance to strengthening the ego and making the unconscious conscious, psychologists like Adler (1927), Bowlby and Winnicot gave importance to birth order and object relations. 

Psychodynamic and psychoanalysis shares the same basic assumption that painful memories are hidden in the unconscious mind. However, psychodynamic analysis takes the idea one step further by assuming the patient's psychological problems are caused by an overuse of defence mechanisms. Psychodynamic analysis typically has a specific aim and focuses on dealing with a particular problem instead of just blindly aiming in dark. 

Neo Freudians such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney and Harry stack Sullivan adopted a more active style of functioning where reviewing how clients constitute there early experiences, the meaning they attach to them is more important than retrieving buried memories. To meet the need of the hour, it was mandatory that brief psychodynamic therapy develops. They allow the therapist to address specific present day concerns and engage in a less neutral professional relationship with the patient, to give efficient therapy in a limited time.

To survive the test of time it is necessary that any therapy evolve with it, even purely psychoanalytically oriented therapist are inclined to provide brief- time limited psychotherapies so as to keep Freud’s heritage alive. Keeping the initial assumptions 

And principles intact, psychoanalysis has come a long way in the journey, branching out in to many fields, laying seeds for further growth and development. 

Question 2: what is counter transference?

As easy as this question sounds, these four words cannot be so easily answered. This construct has been one of the most confusing ones in history of psychology and there is no agreed upon ‘set’ definition for this universal concept. The etymology of the term has varied across psychologists and time. Some view the ‘counter’ in counter transference as a reaction in analysts which implies a parallel in the patient’s transference, as well as the reaction to them. 

Theoretically speaking a wide array of definitions can be found in the literature. The totalistic definition views this phenomenon as including virtually all of the counsellor’s emotional reactions to client. Whereas, the classical definition says it is the counsellor’s transference to the client’s transference. The reality however lies somewhere in between these two. 

 During earlier writings of psychoanalysis, countertransference is something to be controlled and ideally to be worked through because it is important that therapist not acts out their own conflicts with and on their clients. 

In recent times countertransference has more often been viewed as an internal experience in the counsellor, here it can be extremely helpful to counselling – if it is understood and effectively managed by the counsellor. This in fact requires that counsellor be willing to focus on and try to understand his/her feelings towards the client when these are experienced as conflictual. 

Dyer and Vriend (1973) describe, counsellors often experience relationship blocking emotions when faced with a reluctant client. Or they may experience this for the client who calls forth his or her tendency to respond to authoritarian or dependency building ways. Such countertransference feelings are based on counsellor’s unresolved feelings about the nurturing process. 

If the counsellor successfully does not maintain anxiety about possibility that counselling might fail, his/her ability to respond sensitively or insightfully may be impaired. Counsellor’s anxiety can lead to frustration and even anger at clients who is obstructing successful helping. It is hard for counsellor to manage such feelings for they stem from the unconscious.

While it was true that a patient might come to represent a figure of analyst’s past, countertransference might arise simply because of the analyst’s inability to deal appropriately with those aspects of the patient’s communication and behaviour which impinged on inner problems of his own. Thus it is important for a counsellor to timely check if their actions are an act of genuineness r due to an unfulfilled need of theirs.

Question 3: using personal or clinical examples explain the concept of transference and resistance?

Transference, false connection, or colloquially speaking, blast from the past is a very important concept in psychoanalysis. Freud first made the use of the term (1895) when he was reporting on his attempts to elicit verbal association from his patients.  The aim was for the patients to discover through his association, the link between his present symptoms and feelings on the one hand and past experiences on the other.  

Basically a whole series of psychological experiences are revived, not as belonging to the past, but as applying to the person of the physician at the present moment. Unlike initially, now its analysis is seen as an important tool in progress of therapy, no matter its negative or positive transference.  

Freud further explained the idea with transference neurosis (1914) and said that patient is analysis is ‘obliged’ to repeat the repressed materials a contemporary experience , instead of as physicians would like to see it, remembering it as something belonging to past.  

Nowadays it is more often believed than not, that transferees happens every day in real life. Giving a personal life Example – there is a particular friend in my class who is very moody and instinctual. It’s usual for her to be impulsive and shout at people on small things usually I would be cool about it, unless she says something erratic to me. 

I never could understand why even smallest of accusations made by her used to make me feel much rejected! Although I knew it was an expected behaviour, still i couldn’t help but cry desperately whenever she yelled at me like that. 

I always used to wonder, why she has such strong effect on me! Until one day I just realised that, I always used to have the same feeling of dejection and helplessness when my mom used to react in such an unpredictable way. Then I understood that she makes me feel so upset by behaving like this because she reminds me of how my mother used to react to stressful situations and I always used to feel feeble about it. 

Resistance refers to any idea, attitude feeling or action that hinders the progress of therapy and prevents client from producing unconscious material.  It can be showed in many different ways, when client says that they are not able to relate to a certain thought, feeling or experience or when they just forget the appointments. 

The motive for resistance was seen to be the threat of arousal of unpleasant ideas that has been repressed by the unconscious. In fact transference resistance is the most important obstacle in path of therapy. Example- I was well aware of a friend’s birthday coming up next week, and every day I reminded myself about wishing him. But on the day of birthday, I got so busy in work that ‘It completely slipped out of my mind’! 

Later I realised it was just an excuse. It’s impossible that I would have forgotten his birthday just due to work stress.  In psychotherapy there are no accidents, you forgot because you did not wish to remember that friend’s birthday not because of any other excuse. Students generally tend to give such excuse regarding forgetting books and tests.  


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