Psychology

Psychodynamic Theory Psychodynamic Psychology



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Psychodynamic psychology grew out of the work of Sigmund Freud. Freud’s theories, termed psychoanalysis, emphasized the role of the unconscious and conflicts between internal drives and impulses with social norms. Psychodynamic theory expanded on Freud’s perspectives on the inner world of the unconscious by stressing the value of gaining insight into one’s unconscious “world” and increasing the conscious understanding of self. Psychodynamic psychology links the psyche, mind, and personality with emotional states, behavior, and motivation. Psychodynamics considers behaviors and psychological states as a product of emotions and unconscious processes. 

Psychodynamic psychology differs from psychoanalysis in two ways.

Length of therapy

Therapist role

Conflict manifestation 

Psychodynamic psychology differs from psychoanalysis in the length of therapy. Psychoanalysis could require years of bringing the unconscious into the conscious for the purpose of resolving inner conflicts. Psychodynamic approaches tend to progress faster since insight is the primary goal rather than achieving resolution in therapy. 

The therapist’s role is different in psychodynamic psychology. Psychoanalysis situates the therapists as either outside the therapeutic process serving more as an expert or as the object of transference. Psychodynamic roles for the therapist encourage the facilitation of a therapeutic relationship between client and the therapist often serves as a coach in the counseling process. 

Psychodynamic psychology typically focuses on the inner conflicts that are surfacing in behavior. Psychoanalysis tends to pursue a broad view of unconscious conflicts that may not be manifesting in behavior so exploration may be required. 

Psychodynamic Psychology Today 

Psychodynamic psychology continues to influence psychology today. The work of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and Carl Jung continue to influence psychological theory. For example, Adler’s views on the power of early interactions with significant others contributes to our emerging view of self and self-efficacy continues to influence more recent theories such as Attachment Theory and Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. 

Eric Berne expanded on the psychodynamic tradition by applying the concepts to interpersonal relationships. Berne’s Transactional Analysis reduced interpersonal interactions to the convergence of ego states represented by Adult, Parent, and Child characteristics. Berne offered that cross interactions between or noncomplimentary exchanges result in playing “games” with each other.

Psychodynamic psychology contributes to research that includes unconscious forces such as in cognitive psychology or neuropsychology studies. For example, neuropsychoanalysis attempts to apply Freudian concepts to neuroscience research attempting to map the human psyche.

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