Treatment of Abnormality: Psychodynamic Therapies

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  • Created on: 13-06-13 15:26

Therapies associated with the psychodynamic approach

The aim of psychoanalytic therapy is to uncover repressed material and help the client come to an understanding of the origins of their problems. There are traditionally several techniques available to the therapist: free association, dream analysis and projective tests.

Free association

The client is encouraged to express anything that comes into their mind. This could begin, for instance, with an account of what had happened to them on the way to the therapist's consulting room. Each incident may then, through free association of ideas, lead to other thoughts and memories perhaps extending back into childhood. The client must not censor the material at all, and in the freewheeling way the ego defences may be lowered and repressed material accessed. The role of the therapist is to intervene occasionally, perhaps to encourage some reflection on a particular experience. In addition, during the free association, the therapist will be identifying key themes and ideas that can be analysed further during the therapeutic process.

Freud introduced freeto try and get around the defences put up by the ego and so bring to the syrface material from the unconscious. It is one of the most valuable techniques used in psychoanalytic therapy and can also be used in combination with other techniques such as dream analysis. It is also why Freud's approach was referred to as the 'talking cure'.

Dream analysis

Freud referred to dreams as the 'royal road to the unconscious'. He felt that during dreams the normal barriers to unconscious material were lifted and the symbolic imagery of dreams was a reflection of this unconscious material.  Therefore by analysing the content of dreams the therapist might be able to identify significant conflicts repressed into the unconscious.

For Freud dreams were essentially wish fulfilment, but the wishes, often sexual or aggressive from the id, were too…


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