The set of therapies which we call “psychoanalysis” have diversified enormously since Freud created his famous psychoanalytic-type chaplain, whom many people still mistakenly conceive of as the archetype of clinical psychology.
In this article we will analyze the theoretical bases, the currents and the main techniques of psychodynamic therapy, A group of interventions based on the contributions of authors who have developed and questioned Freudian psychoanalysis to maximize the utility of their tools.
What is psychodynamic therapy?
Psychodynamic therapies, also known as psychodynamic psychotherapies, Are therapeutic approaches based on the theoretical contributions of classical psychoanalysis, represented by Sigmund Freud, and / or its most recent developments.
Although the two streams have very close conceptual roots, psychodynamic therapy differs from psychoanalytic-type care in several key respects. Among these they underline the greater brevity of the interventions, The lower intensity of treatment, the multiplicity of therapeutic axes and the relative emphasis placed on scientific validation.
It is difficult to clearly establish the boundaries between psychodynamic therapies and other supervised interventions in psychoanalysis, as there are a large number of different therapies; however, the above criteria are often used as indicators of the closeness of a treatment to the concept of “psychodynamic therapy”.
Like the rest of its developments, psychodynamic therapies share the focus of classical psychoanalysis on the importance of unconscious processes for behavior, Thoughts and emotions. Since unconscious variables are conceived as fundamental determinants of behavior, treatment should focus on these.
The symptoms of neurosis, the historical focus of psychoanalysis, are understood from these orientations as “compromise solutions” to the conflict between unconscious drives and moral self-demands, to which Freud gave the metaphorical name of “superego”.
Another central aspect of psychoanalytic theory is the fact that personality is formed during childhood depending on how basic needs are met. Since personal history is always unique, each person is different from the others and requires individualized treatment.
Those who practice these therapies often argue that their goal is for the client to come to know their true Self; it requires a thorough personality analysis. However, psychodynamic therapies are generally characterized by their greater focus on the person’s current problems, Compared to psychoanalytic type care.
Thus, one could say that psychodynamic therapies are those which attempt to adapt the principles of psychoanalysis, whether of Freud or of theorists who followed him, to the context of modern psychotherapy. In addition, this type of intervention seeks to focus on the individual and his unconscious with the contributions of other psychological currents.
Currents of psychodynamic therapy
Again approaches to psychodynamic therapy are as broad as variations exist and, as we have said, it is not always possible to distinguish them from the classical forms of psychoanalysis, we can differentiate three main currents in the framework that awaits us.
1. Neo-Freudian therapy
Authors such as Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan, Erich Fromm, Wilhelm Reich, and Sándor Ferenczi are often classified as “neo-Freudians” because they extended Freud’s theories by criticizing key aspects of his work, such as the emphasis on children’s sexuality, the concept of the death drive or the lack of attention to the psychosocial.
Neo-Freudian therapy is based on the revisions made by one or more of these authors to the teacher’s postulates. From neofreudism, as from the analytic tradition of the ego, it emphasizes the role of the Self and the conscious as opposed to the almost exclusive focus of classical psychoanalysis on the This and the unconscious.
2. Psychoanalytic Tradition of the Self
This concept encompasses two closely related schools: the psychology of the Self, developed in the United States and represented by Anna Freud, Heinz Hartmann or Erik Erikson, and the object relations theory, British orientation in which Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott and Ronald Fairbairn stand out.
These currents place the mental representation that we make of our interpersonal relationships at the center of the intervention. More attention is paid to the present than in Freudian psychoanalysis, and priority is given to the direct analysis of the therapeutic relationship over that of the transference.
3. Psychoanalytic psychotherapies
Psychoanalytic psychotherapies are considered to be all those which are based on the theoretical postulates of the psychodynamic tradition but that they do not derive their intervention methods from psychoanalytic type care. These therapies are very varied but are generally characterized by their brevity and to adapt to different types of psychological difficulties.
Some of the best-known psychoanalytic psychotherapies include Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy, inspired by the contributions of Ferenczi and Otto Rank, Brief Psychotherapy with Provocative Anxiety by Sifneos, Limited Duration Psychotherapy by Mann, and the unconscious deactivation technique. from Davanloo.
Methodology and techniques
Psychodynamic therapies they focus on revealing unconscious conflicts who identify current customer issues in order to resolve them. Since these interventions largely share the theoretical basis of classical psychoanalysis, so do the techniques and methods.
Thus, they are generally used characteristic techniques such as free association, Dream analysis, identification and deactivation of defense mechanisms and interpretation of transference and countertransference.
Depending on the intervention we are talking about, and even the specific therapist, the techniques will be more or less eclectic; It is important to note that many psychodynamic therapists today use techniques developed within the framework of other theoretical orientations, such as exposure or the empty chair.
The attitude of the psychodynamic therapist tends to be less rigid than that of the psychoanalytic. Although in many cases he seeks to comply with the rule of abstinenceThe modernization of the propositions of psychoanalysis has led to a general flexibility of the therapeutic relationship within the framework of psychodynamic therapies.