How does psychodynamic therapy differ from traditional psychoanalysis

Deborah C. Escalante


Main Difference – Psychoanalytic vs Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychoanalytic therapy and Psychodynamic therapy are two of the most important treatment modalities recommended to address various psychiatric illnesses due to their broad range of advantages associated with clearly identified objectives and scopes. The main difference between psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy is their time limit and intensiveness; psychodynamic therapy is known to be briefer and less intensive than traditional psychoanalytic therapy.

This article looks at

1. What is Psychoanalytic Therapy? – Goals and Efficacy, Methods Used, Duration and Intensity

2. What is Psychodynamic Therapy? – Goals and Efficacy, Methods Used, Duration and Intensity

3. What is the difference between Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Therapy?Difference Between Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Therapy - Comparison Summary

What is Psychoanalytic Therapy

Psychoanalytic therapy is a type of treatment, based mainly on the psychoanalytic theories introduced by Sigmund Freud, and focuses on how an individual’s unconscious mind influences his respective thoughts, emotions, and behavioral patterns.

The fundamental objective of psychoanalytic therapy involves the rational analysis of early childhood experiences which can give rise to potential behaviors, personality traits and various actions of an individual.

The duration of treatment will vary according to individual needs, but as a rule, there should be initial meets should occur least once a week; this may gradually decrease in frequency (once per month) but remain for a number of weeks, months or even years, depending on the patient response.

As far as the history of psychoanalytic therapy is concerned, Charcot, the person who worked together with Freud is known to have used hypnosis to treat women with hysteria who indicated symptoms such as partial paralysis, hallucinations, and nervousness.

Psychoanalytic therapists mostly use talking to patients, highlighting the concept of talk therapy, which is the commonest mode of intervention used here. Also known as talking-cure, this therapy tries to identify a relationship between a person’s childhood experiences, negative life events, unconscious feelings, thoughts and emotions which are thought to be playing an important role various human behaviors. Psychoanalytic therapy also involves free association, exploration of the transference, observing defenses and dream interpretation.

Although some professionals suggest that this method is time-consuming, expensive and lacks a definitive scientific basis, several research studies have proven its effectiveness in emotional growth as a result of the empathy, non-judgmental listening, understanding, and many other motivational factors.

Main Difference - Psychoanalytic vs Psychodynamic Therapy

What is Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic Therapy is defined as a systematic study of psychological forces which result in various human behaviors, feelings or emotions and how they can occur in relation to previous life experiences. In simpler terms, it mainly focuses on the dynamic relationship between concepts of conscious and unconscious motivation which relies on the fact that various processes of the mind have a definitive flow of psychological energy in the human brain.

The main types of this therapy include interpersonal therapy (IPT) and person-centered therapy which are associated with free association, resolving objectives on unconscious conflicts, enhancing defense mechanisms, positive transference, and symptomatic treatment.

Psychodynamic therapy involves taking repressed childhood experiences to conscious levels, using in analyzing an individual’s present issues.

Although there is some deficit of quantitative and experimental research, psychodynamic therapy is accepted throughout the world for treating phobias, anxiety disorders, depression, etc.

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Difference Between Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Therapy

Difference Between Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Therapy

Definition

Psychoanalytic therapy is defined as a process by which a person is cured by bringing up unconscious thoughts to the conscious level which will ultimately result in the release of several repressed emotions and experiences.

On the other hand, Psychodynamic therapy, also known an insight-oriented therapy, is the oldest type of modern therapy used in the field of psychiatry and defined as an intervention  that mainly focuses on unconscious processes which tend to decide an individual’s present behavior.

Duration and Intensity

Psychodynamic therapy is known to be briefer and less intensive than traditional psychoanalytic therapy, but both of them stem from the fundamental theory which accepts that the development of the individual is more or less affected by numerous unforgotten childhood experiences.

More importantly, the universal central concept of brief therapy is encouraged in psychodynamic therapy which mainly focuses on short-term, rapid interventions that directly target the patient’s issue, rather than associating him freely and discussing numerous, possibly unconnected problems, which usually play the hallmark in psychoanalytic interventions.

Conclusion

Both types of treatment can be used to address the same psychiatric condition; the effectiveness will tend to depend on the individual requirements, the severity of the illness, environment and possible past experiences.

Image Courtesy: 

 “Clinic Counselling Session” hellocoolworld (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

“Balanced Life Institute – Santa Monica Psychotherapy” By Bliusa – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

Woman looks out over view of city at sunset.Psychodynamic therapy is the psychological interpretation of mental and emotional processes. Rooted in traditional psychoanalysis, it draws from object relations, ego psychology, and self psychology. It was developed as a simpler, less-lengthy alternative to psychoanalysis. 

Psychodynamic therapy aims to address the foundation and formation of psychological processes. In this way, it seeks to reduce symptoms and improve people’s lives.

Core Principles of Psychodynamic Therapy

In psychodynamic therapy, therapists help people gain insight into their lives and present-day problems. They also evaluate patterns people develop over time. To do this, therapists review certain life factors with a person in therapy:

  • Emotions
  • Thoughts
  • Early-life experiences
  • Beliefs

Recognizing recurring patterns can help people see how they avoid distress or develop defense mechanisms to cope. This insight may allow them to begin changing those patterns.

The therapeutic relationship is central to psychodynamic therapy. It can demonstrate how a person interacts with their friends and loved ones. In addition, transference in therapy can show how early-life relationships affect a person today. Transference is the transferring one’s feelings for a parent, for example, onto the therapist. This intimate look at interpersonal relationships can help people understand their part in relationship patterns. It may empower them to transform that dynamic.

Psychodynamic therapy is available to individuals, couples, families, or groups. It can be used as short-term or long-term therapy. Brief psychodynamic therapy is goal-oriented and can take as many as 25 sessions. Long-term psychodynamic therapy may take two years or more.

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Accessing the Unconscious

People tend to develop defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms may keep painful feelings, memories, and experiences in the unconscious. A few common defense mechanisms include:

Psychodynamic therapists encourage people to speak freely about their emotions, desires, and fears. Being open may help reveal vulnerable feelings that have been pushed out of conscious awareness. According to psychodynamic theory, behavior is influenced by unconscious thought. Once vulnerable or painful feelings are processed, the defense mechanisms reduce or resolve.

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Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM)

The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM) was released in 2006. Its goal is to offer a conceptual framework for human psychological functioning. It also aims to serve as an alternative to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The DSM outlines observable symptoms associated with mental health conditions. Meanwhile, the PDM describes subjective experiences.

Improvisational Psychodynamic Music Therapy

One approach to psychodynamic therapy is psychodynamic music therapy. This innovative and creative form of therapy involves exploration of various instruments. Guitars, drums, and pianos a just of few of the instruments used. This kind of music therapy is non-directive. It does not require any musical background. Instead, people are encouraged to improvise and express themselves through music in any way they wish.

Music therapists are highly trained to identify various personality traits and emotional issues. They can do this by observing how a person in therapy creates music. As they build their therapeutic alliance, they also participate in the music making. This can help strengthen their bond and help the therapist access deeper communication tools. For people with high levels of anxiety or fear, the music can be soothing. It may provide an element of release during difficult therapeutic sessions.

References:

  1. Knekt, P., Lindfors, O., Härkänen, T., Välikoski, M., Virtala, E., et al. (2008). Randomized trial on the effectiveness of long- and short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy and solution-focused therapy on psychiatric symptoms during a 3-year follow-up. Psychological Medicine, 38(5), 689-703. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S003329170700164X
  2. Leichsenring, F., Hiller, W., Weissberg, M., & Leibing, E. (2006). Cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy: Techniques, efficacy, and indications. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 60(3), 233-59. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213135027?accountid=1229
  3. Luborsky, Ellen, O’Reilly-Landry, Maureen, and Arlow, Jacob. (2008). Psychoanalysis. In Raymond J. Corsini and Danny Wedding (Eds.), Current Psychotherapies (pp. 15–62). Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education

Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic theories acknowledge the importance of unconscious psychological processes and childhood experiences. Both are also closely associated with Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. They expound on the manifestations of defense mechanisms, free association, dream analysis, inner conflicts, etc. Hence, a number of sources use these terms interchangeably. However, psychodynamic perspective covers the theories and approaches based on Freud and his followers (who may have later contradicted him) while psychoanalytic perspective specifically pertains to the original theories and therapeutic approach of Freud.   

What is Psychodynamic? 

Psychodynamic perspective refers to the therapeutic approach and theories developed by Freud and supported by his followers such as the neo-Freudians (though they disagreed with some of his concepts); they generally deemphasized sex and gave more importance to the influence of social environment. Some of them are: 

Carl Jung

Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist who was Freud’s protégé.  His theory is called “Analytical Psychology”; he met Freud in 1907, they were impressed with each other’s work and developed a close friendship.  In fact, Freud viewed Jung as his intellectual heir. However, Jung broke away from Feud in 1913 due to their differing concepts.  He thought that Freud’s theory of the unconscious was too negative and incomplete. For instance, Jung proposed that there was a deeper and transpersonal form of unconscious called the “collective unconscious” which is manifested by universal symbols. Freud then dismissed Jung’s interest in myths as being unscientific. 

Alfred Adler 

Adler was an Austrian psychiatrist, his theory is called “Individual Psychology”. He was the first president of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society; hence, he was a part of Freud’s inner circle of colleagues. Instead of sexual and aggressive urges, Adler believed that we are driven by feelings of inferiority in childhood and that people should be studied as a whole. Because of his disagreements with Freud, Adler left the society, taking one third of the members with him. 

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Karen Horney 

Horney was a German psychoanalyst who also questioned some of Freud’s theories. She is credited for her feminist psychology;  Horney disagreed with Freud’s concept of “penis envy” ( young girls experience anxiety when they realize that they do not have a penis). She stated that men experience “womb envy”, that men are actually envious of women’s ability to bear children. 

According to the American Psychological Association (2017), psychodynamic therapy is an in-depth form of talk therapy which is usually delivered once a week (and is usually briefer than the traditional psychoanalytic therapy). Aside from looking into the unconscious and past experiences, this approach also considers the impact of the external world. This is also known as “insight-oriented therapy” which is the oldest type of modern therapy (Embogama, 2016). 

What is Psychoanalytic? 

Psychoanalytic perspective refers to theories and therapeutic methods which are based on the original works of Freud, an Austrian neurologist. The term “psychoanalysis” was coined by Freud in 1896. His interest in the unconscious mind was spurred by the case of “Anna O.” who got cured when her repressed memories were uncovered (Ackerman, 2020). The basic assumptions of this approach include: 

  • Psychological problems are rooted in the unconscious.
  • Treatments focus on bringing the repressed conflict to consciousness. 
  • Personality is largely influenced by childhood experiences. 
  • Individuals employ defense mechanisms against threatening information from the unconscious. 
  • The mind is composed of the id, ego, and superego. 
  • Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious. 
  • All tension is due to the increase of libido and that all pleasure is derived from its discharge. 

Psychoanalytic therapy usually takes place several times a week with the patient on a couch (American Psychological Association, 2017). It is based on Freud’s psychoanalytic theories and is  generally more intensive and lasts longer than psychodynamic therapy. 

Difference between Psychodynamic and Psychoanalytic

Theorists 

Psychoanalytic perspective refers to theories and therapeutic methods which are based on the original works of Freud, who coined the term “psychoanalysis” in 1896. On the other hand, psychodynamic perspective refers to the therapeutic approach and theories developed by Freud and supported by his followers such as the neo-Freudians (Jung, Adler, Horney, Erikson, Klein, etc.). 

Focus 

Psychodynamic perspective generally deemphasizes sex and gives more importance to the influence of social environment. On the contrary, the psychoanalytic perspective gives more importance to the influence of the libido. 

Therapy 

Psychodynamic therapy is an in-depth form of talk therapy which is usually delivered once a week (APA, 2017). Aside from looking into the unconscious and past experiences, this approach also considers the impact of the external world. This is also known as “insight-oriented therapy” which is the oldest type of modern therapy (Embogama, 2016). In comparison, psychoanalytic therapy usually takes place several times a week with the patient on a couch (APA, 2017). It is based on Freud’s psychoanalytic theories and is  generally more intensive and lasts longer than psychodynamic therapy. 

Psychodynamic vs Psychoanalytic

Summary 

  • Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic theories acknowledge the importance of unconscious psychological processes and childhood experiences.
  • Psychodynamic perspective refers to the therapeutic approach and theories developed by Freud and supported by his followers such as the neo-Freudians. 
  • Psychoanalytic perspective refers to theories and therapeutic methods which are based on the original works of Freud.
  • Psychodynamic perspective generally deemphasizes sex and gives more importance to the influence of social environment.
  • As compared to psychoanalytic therapy, psychodynamic therapy is less intense and briefer. It also considers the impact of the external world and does not necessarily use the iconic couch.

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