What are Psychoanalytical and Psychodynamic Approaches?

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Pyschodynamic vs Pyschoanalytical

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In this article you will find.

The key name associated with Psychoanalytical and Psychodynamic approaches is Sigmund Freud.  The term psychoanalytical usually refers to a system that is strictly Freudian or extremely close to Freudian (Day, 2007).  Sigmund Freud believed that there were five initial stages every child goes through according to their ages.  The stages are Oral, (0-18months), Anal, (18-36 months), Phallic, (3-6 years), Latency, (6 years to puberty) and finally Genital, (puberty onward).  

Sigmund Freud felt the most important years of development occurred between the ages of three and six.  He believed in this stage children would want their opposite sex parent all to themselves, and that these desires would then lead to jealousy and hate for their same sex parent.  He believed that immediately after this stage the child would feel so bad about hating their same sex parent that they would then appropriately or naturally bond with that parent. This is where he considered the child’s bond with the same sex parent to be formed.  This then would lead to the individuals finding of someone of the opposite sex to fall in love with and start a family with.  

What are Freuds 3 Structures of Approach

Freud also believed that there were three different psychological structures that would balance all the thoughts, feelings and behaviors a person possesses.  These are called the id, the superego, and the ego.  

The id 

Is the part of us that lives for excess and indulgence in our lives; this includes anything that a person could over indulge in and something that can be taken to the extreme with their behaviors and impulses.  

The superego 

Is considered more of what we might refer to out conscious.  The superego is just the opposite of the id, because this piece really wants to be perfect, organized and expects greatness.  

The ego

Finds itself somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.  The ego tries to compromise both sides of these urges and is the reasonable one that finds happiness between the two extremes.  

Since there tends to be a pulling effect between the id and the superego a person has to deal with the ending result can lead to anxiety.  Anxiety is another central concept in Freudian and other psychodynamic theories (Day, 2007).  Freud’s daughter Anna researched even deeper into the ego and discovered the prominence of defense mechanisms that were introduced in her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense in 1936 (Day, 2007).  Some of these defense mechanisms she discovered are Rationalization, Reaction Formation, Projection, Fantasy, Repression, Emotional Insulation, Displacement, Denial, Sublimation, regression and identification.

Basic Goal of Psychoanalytical Thought

The basic goal of Psychoanalysis is Freud’s idea to bring what is in the unconscious to the conscious level.  The idea then is to bring all of the client’s feelings to light and to surface so that then they can truly and fully aware of all things that were hidden and start making changes when all those aspects are realized.  This awareness can then lead to further exploration.

Attachment theory

Another theory connected to psychoanalytical theory and object relations is the Attachment theory.  Attachment theory is the idea that babies and toddlers have a special attachment to their mother or father.  This attachment occurs through the infant and caretakers interactions.  Some of those interactions include cuddling, gazing, smiling and babbling, this leads to the baby getting their caretakers attention which ideally leads to the caregiver responding to the baby in the same manner, which inevitably creates an attachment bond (Day, 2007).  

Self Psychology

Another additional theory is Self Psychology.  Pine in 1998 gives a three part description, these three parts of a person that is generally optimistic or pessimistic, the part that has a clear sense of individuality or an unclear sense of individuality, a finally that part of being relaxed or worried (Day, 2007).  It is believed that the sense of self develops in the first three years of a child’s life, which has been a common age group throughout the Psychoanalytical Theory.  

Megan Corrieri, the founder of Northstar Counseling & Therapy personally believes that Self Psychology is very important and should be encouraged with all clients. According to Megan, “It would be extremely beneficial to everyone to have a greater knowledge of ones self, which intern makes for a better life and better relationships with others”.

How does this relate to psychodynamic theory?

Like the psychoanalytical theory, psychodynamic theory also has many uses and intertwining techniques. It’s worthy to note that it has just as many critiques.  Some of the uses include treatment of anxiety-based disorders in individuals and families, narcissistic personality disorders, borderline personality disorder, and schizoid disorders to name a few.  

Some of the main concerns of this theory are the limited ideas and attitudes toward women, heterosexual ennoblement, limitations of culture, therapeutic inefficiencies, and also negativity surrounding Freud’s outlook on humanity.

The Psychoanalytical and Psychodynamic approaches and theories are not necessarily Northstar Counseling and Therapy’s idea of the best approaches or judgments.  While there are certain aspects and qualities of both that can be helpful and relatable. The majority of the approaches and beliefs feel can be uncomfortable for both the therapist and client. 

Megan says, “I personally get uncomfortable with these approaches and I do not find myself but partially relating to them.  I also feel like some of the theories and aspects of those theories are outdated and dry.  I personally have a hard time applying them to my own counseling style which is very warm, caring and inviting of change.”

Megan Corrieri

Megan Corrieri

Owner, Clinician, Wife & Mom


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