The 7 main psychodynamic theories

If one thinks of psychotherapy, the image that probably comes to mind is of an individual lying on a sofa explaining his problems to a psychologist sitting behind him while he takes notes and asks him questions. . However, this image does not necessarily correspond to reality: there are many schools and schools of thought in psychologySome are more appropriate than others depending on the specific case being treated.

One of the first major schools of thought to emerge was Freud’s psychoanalysis. But Freud’s students and followers who decided to break with him due to discrepancies in some elements of his theory also continued to generate content and add new theories and aspects to psychoanalytic therapy. These are the so-called psychodynamic approaches. And with them, different therapies have emerged. In this article we will see the main psychodynamic models and theories.

    Psychodynamic theories

    The concept of psychodynamic theory may seem unique and unitary, but the truth is that it encompasses a wide range of ways of understanding the human mind. When we talk about psychodynamic theories, we are talking about a heterogeneous set of perspectives that they have their origin in conceptions of mental processes derived from psychoanalysis.

    In this sense, they all share with Freudian theory the idea that there are intrapsychic conflicts between the conscious and the unconscious, Being one of the main goals of therapy to help make the patient able to understand and deal with unconscious content (bring it to consciousness)

    In addition, psychodynamic theories also consider the existence of strategies and defense mechanisms used by the psyche to minimize the suffering generated by these conflicts, and agree that the psychic structure and personality are formed during childhood from the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of needs. The experience of childhood is very relevant for this current, As well as the interpretation of these experiences and transfers. They also believe that the interaction with the therapist caused the patient to relive the repressed experiences and representations, turning to the professional.

    These psychodynamic models and theories differ from psychoanalysis, among others, in that they focus more on the reason for consultation identified by the patient and not in a complete restructuring of the personality. The therapies are not that long and more spaced, besides being open to a large number of mental disorders and problems and not just to neurosis and hysteria. There are other differences, but these will largely depend on the specific psychodynamic pattern observed.

      Some of the main therapies and models

      As we mentioned, there are many psychodynamic theories and therapies. Here are some of the best known.

      Adler’s individual psychology

      One of the main neofreudianos models is that of Adler, one of the authors who separated from Freud due to multiple differences with certain aspects of psychoanalytic theory.

      This author considered that libido is not the main motor of the psyche, but the search for acceptance and belonging, which will generate anxieties which, if not completed, will cause feelings of inferiority. too much he considered the human being as a unitary being, comprehensible on a holistic level, Who is not a passive being but has the capacity to choose. This author considers lifestyle as one of the most relevant aspects to work with the desire for power derived from the feeling of inferiority and the goals and objectives of the subject.

      Their psychotherapy is understood as a process that seeks to confront and change the way the subject copes with vital tasks, trying to make explicit the guideline of the subject’s action to promote its efficiency and self-confidence.

      From this psychodynamic theory, the first is proposed establish a relationship of trust and recognition between therapist and patient, Try to bring the goals of the two of achieving the recovery of the second. The problems in question are then explored and observation of the strengths and skills of the patient who will eventually use them to solve them is encouraged.

      The way of life and the decisions made are analyzed, after which the focus will be shifted to working on the subject’s beliefs, goals and vital objectives in order to enable him to understand himself from his own internal logic. Finally, the development of habits and behaviors allowing the reorientation of the behavior towards the tasks and objectives of the subject is worked on with the patient.

        Jung’s analytical theory

        Jung’s model is another of the main Neo-Freudian models, being one of Freud’s followers who decided to break with him due to various discrepancies. From this model, we work with aspects such as dreams, artistic expressions, complexes (unconscious organizations of unrecognized emotional experiences) and archetypes (inherited images that make up our collective unconscious).

        The goal of this therapy is to achieve the development of an integrated identity, try to help the subject to consider what Jung interpreted as unconscious forces. In the first place, the subject is confronted with his person (the part of himself that he recognizes as his own and that he expresses to the outside world) and his shadow (the part of our being that we do not express and that we usually project onto others.) making sure that the cure is achieved.

        Next, we work on the anima and animus archetypes, the archetypes that represent the feminine and the masculine and how they function and project into social relationships. later in a third step we try to work on the archetypes corresponding to wisdom and synchronicity with the universe through the analysis of dreams and artistic elaborations (which are analyzed, among other methods, through the use of association with particular elements of dreams). We work in collaboration with the patient and try to integrate the different facets of being.

        Sullivan’s interpersonal perspective

        Sullivan he considers that the main element that explains our psychic structure is interpersonal relationships and how these are experienced, shaping our personality from personifications (ways of interpreting the world), dynamism (energies and needs) and the development of a system of the self.

        At the therapy level, this is understood as a form of interpersonal relationship that provides security and facilitates learning. It must generate changes in the person and the situation, working the therapist in an active and directive way. without increasing the subject’s anxiety.

        It is mainly proposed to work from obtaining information and correcting the erroneous one, modifying dysfunctional evaluation systems, working on the subject’s personal distance from people and situations, correcting phenomena like interacting with others believing that they will pay off for us just like the other important people above, seek out and reintegrate the inhibited elements of the patient and seek the patient to be able to communicate and expressing logical thoughts and seeking satisfaction while reducing the need for security and experiential avoidance.

          The theory of object relations

          Melanie Klein may be one of the greatest figures in the psychoanalytic tradition of the Self, Followers of Freud who followed his theoretical line by adding new content and areas of study. If so, study and focus on the minors.

          One of its most relevant theories is the theory of object relations, in which it is proposed that individuals relate to the environment based on the connection we make between the subject and the object, and particularly relevant is the unconscious fantasy that we generate the object by explaining the behavior.

          When working with children, special importance is given to symbolic play as a method for working and externalizing unconscious fantasies, to attempt later to clarify the anxieties that arise from them and to introduce modifications both through play and through other means such as creative visualization, narration, drawing, dance or role games.

          Other more recent psychodynamic theories

          There are many approaches, models and theories that have been developed throughout history from the psychodynamic approach. In addition to the above, there are relatively recent psychodynamic therapies and theories, very much focused on the practice and everyday life of therapy, and not so much on systematic explanations of the structure of mental processes.

          Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy Theory

          This perspective is based on the idea that therapeutic work should focus on a specific area that generates the most difficulty and this further explains the specific problem of the patient. Its main characteristics are its brevity and the high level of definition of the element to be worked on and the objectives to be achieved.

          Furthermore a high level of directivity by the therapist is also common and expressing optimism for patient improvement. He seeks to attack the resistance to later work on the anguish generated by this attack and then become aware of the feelings that generated these defenses and discomfort.

          In this type of psychotherapy we can find different techniques, such as brief psychotherapy with provocation of anxiety or deactivation of the unconscious.

          Transfer-based therapy

          Offered by Kernberg, it is a type of therapy of great importance in the treatment of subjects with personality disorders such as borderline. The theory behind it is based on the theory of object relations to propose a model in which the emphasis is both on the internal and external world of the patient and which emphasizes work on transferring internal difficulties to the therapist. In people with severe personality disorders, the experience of frustration and the inability to regulate it prevails, with which the psyche eventually separates, resulting in a diffusion of identity.

          It seeks to promote the integration of patients’ mental structures, reorganizing themselves and seeking to generate changes that allow stable mental functioning in which subjective experience, perception and behavior go hand in hand. The context, the therapeutic relationship and the analysis of object relationships are fundamental, Analyze the feelings generated by the relationship with them (including the therapeutic relationship) and the unconscious fantasy generated by this relationship, helping to understand them.

          Mentalization-based therapy

          Bateman and Fonagy developed a model and type of therapy based on the concept of mentalization. It is understood as such the ability to interpret actions and reactions own and others on the basis of the existence of emotions and thoughts, recognizing them as a mental state.

          With great influence and based largely on Bowlby’s tilt theory, he attempts to explain mental disorder (especially borderline personality disorder) due to the difficulty in attributing mental states to what ‘they do or feel. Therapy related to this model seeks congruence, promoting the link between feeling and thought, Develop the ability to mentalize and try to understand one’s own emotions and those of others, thus improving interpersonal relationships.

          Bibliographical references:

          • Ametller, MT (2012). Psychotherapies. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 06. CEDE: Madrid.
          • Bateman, AW and Fonagy, P. (2004). Psychotherapy of borderline personality disorder: treatment based on mentalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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