How do psychodynamic counsellors use the therapeutic relationship to facilitate change?
The word psychodynamic means the active mind. This is when much of our mental activity is unconscious, which results in a mental struggle in the hidden unconscious mind. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) used the term psychoanalysis (1896) to describe his theories and techniques for finding and curing the mental problem of his patients.
The approach of psychodynamic therapy is to enable a person to deal successfully with their inner emotional differences. The belief is that if someone can understand what happened in the past and what is going on at an unconscious level within their psyche, they can better ...view middle of the document...
Anna came to Breuer suffering from exhaustion as she had been looking after her dying father. She became very attached to Breuer and fell in love with him. In addition, Breuer also became very fascinated and preoccupied by Anna. Eventually Breuer had to give up treating her when she told him she was pregnant and that he was the father of her imagined baby.
Freud thought about this case for a long time and eventually came to the conclusion that Anna had transferred her feelings of love from her father onto Breuer. Freud began to believe that clients would transfer feelings and thoughts about significant people in their life onto their counsellors.
Psychodynamic counsellors look for transference towards themselves and towards other people in the client’s life. They help the client to become more conscious of what is transferred from one person to another. It is very important that the counsellor remains neutral throughout this process and does not get drawn into countertransference.
In their therapeutic relationship with clients, psychodynamic counsellors reflect upon what is known as countertransference. This is the feelings and thoughts of the counsellor when working. These unconscious feelings are normally shown towards the client. Countertranference has been regarded as important information about what the counsellor is picking up from the client. However, the counsellor will need to discuss their countertransference in supervision.
The psychodynamic approach recognises the client’s need for defences and believes that the client will tell them when they are ready and feels safe to do so.
There are about seventeen different defence mechanisms. Due to my boundary of word count I will only discuss about two of them. Repression is the classical defence mechanism that protects you from impulses or ideas that would cause anxiety by preventing it from becoming conscious. The counsellor may help the client identify their defence/s and the need for these. The model also plays much attention to the ways in which a client defends their psychological pain. The client’s pain or trauma is stored in their unconscious mind. An example of this is we forget about something which makes us unhappy or something we feel we cannot deal with. However, this experience may still be affecting the client even through body symptoms. In a counselling session the client may not want to consider these painful experiences and maybe resisting working with them in the session.
The other defence mechanism is resistance. In resistance the client normally hinders and blocks the process to free associate. They may suddenly change the subject to something different to what they were talking about or struggle to remember how long ago an event ended. The client may try any tactic to interrupt and disturb the session. These could be things like making jokes and personal remark on the counsellor, getting up from the couch, looking out of the window or remaining...