Psychodynamic treatments

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Outline; psychodynamic treatments

Uses psychoanalysis; free association; talking freely about whatever comes to mind. Dream analysis involves analysing dreams for their symbolism; what the dream is not telling us.

Assumes experiences in earliest years affect our emotions, attitudes, behaviour in later years without us being aware. The therapy called Free Association is based on psychodynamic model. Psychotherapy; great significance on childhood experiences, psychosexual stages, repressed impulses, unresolved conflicts in the unconscious.

Aim of psychotherapy; bring repressed material into conscious awareness. During therapy sessions; encouraged to relax, talk about what comes to mind. Therapist listens, offers no judgment. Hoped patient will relax internal censor, released repressed material from the unconscious. Therapist helps patient interpret material, gain insight to origins of conflict. Transfer unconscious feelings and emotions onto the therapist.

The psychotherapist helps the patient deal with the emotions and memories recovered from the unconscious. This cathartic emotional experience is called abreaction, a patient experiencing abreaction will be ‘cured’ of his disorder. Modern psychoanalysis, the therapist will help the patient come to a cognitive understanding of his experiences in childhood.


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Evaluate; psychodynamic theory

Useful for neurotic disorders;depression and anxiety; shows its usefulness in terms of its practical application and success.

Ethical issues - therapist power over patient; Ethical concerns have been raised about the power the therapist can have over the patient in terms of the direction and focus of the therapy and memorise discussed.

Extreme focus on the past, may cause patient to relive trauma; If the patient is re-living traumatic experiences from their childhood, could be very distressing.  Question ethics of treatment, suggest the need for thorough informed consent.

Not useful for psychotic disorders; schizophrenia; Although success demonstrated in relation to neurotic disorders, treatments are limited in terms of their universal application as they have been less successfully used in the treatment of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Issues with false memories; There have been instances in which patients have ‘recollected’ traumatic experiences from their past which were false and could never have happened.  This could be due to the patient and therapist relationship whereby the patient feels the need to ‘please’ the therapist and find some explanations for their disorders.

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