Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Defined


Shedler, Jonathan (2006) That was then this is now: An introduction to psychodynamic psychotherapy.


The title is a double entendre. “That was then, this is now” alludes to a central aim of psychoanalytic therapy, which is to help free people from the bonds of past experience in order to live more fully in the present." ... "The title also alludes to sea changes in psychoanalytic thinking that have occurred over the past decades. For too many, the term “psychoanalysis” conjures up century old stereotypes that bear little resemblance to what contemporary practitioners think and do.

Psychoanalysis has contributed a vocabulary with which to talk about inner contradiction, and techniques for working with contradictions in ways that can help alleviate suffering. George Bernard Shaw once wrote, 'Wisdom is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time and still continue to function.' Psychoanalytic psychotherapy seeks to cultivate just this form of wisdom.

In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, our patients’ perceptions of us are not incidental to treatment and they are not interferences or distractions from the work. They are at the heart of therapy. It is specifically because old patterns, scripts, expectations, desires, schemas (call them what you will) become active and “alive” in the therapy sessions that we are able to help patients examine, understand, and rework them.

I was a bit surprised when I heard my students who identify themselves as “radical behaviorists” discussing something called a “CRB” (an acronym for “Clinically Relevant Behavior”). A CRB is defined as an instance of symptomatic behavior expressed in the therapy session toward the therapist—in other words, transference. From the point of view of radical behaviorism, effective intervention involves helping patients recognize CRBs and develop new ways of relating (Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991). Such convergences among schools of therapy are not surprising.

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Jacobson, Wendy (2010) What good psychodynamic psychotherapy is all about. Huffington Post


This is what psychoanalysts make conscious -- the patterns that disable and limit people -- ones that give ulcers either to individuals themselves, or to recipients in their orbit.

(Psychodyanmic psychotherapy) helps people grow, change, integrate, modulate, decrease self-absorption, regard themselves accurately, take themselves seriously but not too seriously, free up emotional energy in service of mastery and generativity -- in short, become their best selves.

The reverberations go well beyond the individual, fostering richer and fuller family life, as well as functional and productive organizations, all with enormous ripple effect. This can help break the kinds of destructive cycles which, if left untreated, keep echoing through the generations.

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