Sigmund Freud’s theories have led to a very wide range of psychotherapeutic interventions. Many people qualify as “psychoanalysis” any treatment derived from Freud’s ideas, but today psychodynamic therapies have acquired great relevance, going beyond the fundamental limits of traditional psychoanalysis.
It is not simple or entirely appropriate differentiate between psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies because the two types of intervention share key aspects and overlap to a large extent. We can thus establish a series of differentiations which give an idea of the distance between the dynamic therapies which currently exist.
What is psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysis is a set of therapeutic theories and techniques which aims to treat mental disorders through the analysis of unconscious life. It is one of the oldest psychological therapies, dating back to the last decade of the 19th century, and introducing approaches which were subsequently taken up by many psychotherapeutic approaches.
Authors like Jean-Martin Charcot and Breuer, however, influenced the emergence of psychoanalysis. the term and its foundation are attributed to Sigmund Freud and in his book The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899. Later, Carl Gustav Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney and other disciples of Freud developed psychoanalysis in different directions, moving away from the master.
According to psychoanalysis, personality is largely determined by children’s experiences, which exert a significant influence on thinking, emotions and behavior. The therapeutic goal is for this unconscious material to pass to consciousness through the analysis of involuntary behavior, dreams and transference.
The type of intervention most characteristic of this current this is psychoanalytic-type care, in which the transference neurosis is analyzed in depth. Classical elements of psychoanalysis, such as couch use, therapist abstinence, overall therapeutic orientation and long duration of treatment, are identified with type care.
Psychodynamic therapies are a series of interventions based on certain concepts of psychoanalytic theory. In particular, this type of psychotherapy focuses on active influence of unconscious processes in the conscious behavior, thought and emotions of the present moment.
These psychotherapies share fundamental elements with psychoanalysis, in particular the emphasis placed on the unconscious and the theoretical grounding in the contributions of Freud and his disciples. However, the term “psychodynamic therapy” is used in opposition to that of “psychoanalysis” to differentiate the classical method from more modernized and scientific methods.
There are a large number of therapies that fall into this category. These include Rogers Client Centered Therapy and Klerman and Weissman Interpersonal Therapy. More recently, other influential psychodynamic therapies have emerged, such as time-limited mentalization therapy and psychotherapy.
Differences between psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies
It is impossible to make definitive distinctions between psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies because the two concepts overlap. Overall, however, a number of characteristics frequently used to distinguish these two types of intervention can be established.
1. Duration of treatment
The duration of treatment is the main distinguishing criterion between classical psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies if we focus on an analysis of their practice. So, while psychoanalysis can last up to 5 years, psychodynamic therapies are shorter because they focus on the patient’s current issues and not on the patient’s personality as a whole.
2. Frequency of sessions
Psychoanalysis is a much more intensive treatment than psychodynamic therapy. Psychoanalytic-type care is practiced 3 to 4 times a week; For their part, the psychodynamic therapy sessions have a more variable frequency, taking place every week or even less frequently.
3. Supervision of therapy
Traditionally, the couch has been used in psychoanalytic treatment, which allows patients to focus and more easily access unconscious material without the distractions of direct interaction with the therapist, which is also not very participatory. .
The evolution of psychoanalysis towards psychodynamic therapies encouraged a more flexible framework. Thus, therapists who apply this type of intervention tend to be more active and direct, and in many cases this and the patient are placed face to face. In short, psychodynamic therapies are better suited to each particular case.
4. Depth of analysis
Psychodynamic therapies have been widely developed as a means of applying psychoanalytic approaches to the management of specific problems. This makes them much more effective and, according to some people, superficial, like the traditional lens of change the personality structure in general.
5. Therapeutic axes
This difference is related to the depth of the analysis. While many psychodynamic therapies focus on unconscious processes related to the reason for the customer’s requestIn psychoanalysis, the need to manage multiple and mobile foci arises: the unconscious thoughts resulting from the therapeutic relationship and the transference. One way or another, psychoanalysts have decided to intervene in conflicts that the patient does not know he has (which is not without controversy).
6. Theoretical basis
Today, when we talk about psychoanalysis, we are referring to interventions that focus mainly on Freud’s contributions. In contrast, psychodynamic therapies to a greater extent capture the advances of later authors such as Klein, Jung, Lacan or Winnicott, emphasizing concepts such as tilt or defense mechanisms.
7. Techniques used
Classical techniques of psychoanalysis include free association, interpretation of dreams or resistance and transfer analysis. Psychodynamic therapies capture these contributions, but in many cases they are more eclectic in nature, including techniques from other orientations, such as behavioral, cognitive, and experiential.
8. Efficiency research
Psychoanalysis has historically been characterized by its rejection of experimental and scientific methods, based primarily on theories developed by key authors. However, some of the hypotheses raised by psychoanalysts have subsequently been validated by scientific research, such as the hooking theory.
however, many psychodynamic therapies are based on scientific evidence on the effectiveness of the methods. The magnitude of the effect of these therapies is significantly greater than that of psychoanalysis in the treatment of most specific disorders.
9. Therapeutic indications
Psychoanalysis has traditionally focused on two major groups of disorders: neurosis and hysteria. Developments in certain psychodynamic therapies have allowed application to a greater number of psychological disorders, including personality disorders and psychoses.