In this essay, I will critically evaluate some of the concepts I have studied in this module, beginning with the work of Sigmund Freud 1856-1939, then Alfred Adler 1870-1937 (birth order theory), and John Bowlby 1907-1990 (attachment theory) who focus on the unconscious mind, which is the basis of psychodynamics, to name but a few theorists. “Freud’s fundamental ideas about mental and emotional functioning remain the bedrock that underpins the psychodynamic approach.” www.mheducation.co.
ukSigmund Freud’s structural theory of the mind comprising the id (instincts and drives), the ego (mediator between the id and superego), and the superego (conscience) is at the core of psychodynamic theory. This theory is associated with psychoanalysis or talk therapy used to uncover unconscious thoughts, fears, and desires. Psychodynamic theories of personality tend to focus on unconscious motivations, childhood experiences, and the connection between unconscious desires, human behaviour, thoughts, and emotions. The focus in this approach is on the psyche or unconscious mind and early child development. Freud (1894, 1896) introduced a number of ego defences mechanisms which are psychological strategies that are unconsciously used to protect a person from anxiety arising from unacceptable thoughts or feelings. Anna Freud (1936) elaborated on these and added more to the list.
Although I have found Freud very bias in his thinking and dated, I can relate to the work I have mentioned above in my client work. One client in particular, in my opinion distorts reality by denying that she is unable to find alternative employment to the company she is currently working for, even though she is highly qualified and experienced in her desired field. I also have found with this client, that she tends to use projection when talking about her personal life and was unaware that she did this until I challenged her.
These defence mechanisms she uses are innate, although you could argue that some are possibly learned. By making the client aware of these defences, we can work together to generate new thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Cognitive behavioural theory and practice would be integrated with the client’s psychodynamic thought to enable progression in our sessions.Alfred Adler separated from Freud 1911 due to his disagreements especially around Freud’s psychosexual stages. He was later known as a Neo-Freudian with many others. Neo-Freudian, were a group of theorists who were influenced by Sigmund Freud, but who extended his theories towards their own direction. In 1912, Adler founded the Society of Individual Psychology, which does not necessarily mean it focuses only on the individual itself. He said the environment and the people we associate ourselves with is taken into account.
The reason why he called it individual psychology was because he believed that every person is unique, in his or her own way, and that old theories did not apply to everyone. Adler’s theories indicated that we are all born with a sense of inferiority, which meant we had feelings of lack of self-worth, which is something I can identify with. I recently had a client where I noticed transference, in that he assumed I had all the answers to his issues, he would question me, asking me what I would do to every situation that arose. Thankfully I noticed this early in our sessions and regularly referred back to our contract and boundaries. I also brought this to supervision. This particular gentleman was also quite reluctant to end our sessions, which triggered something in me as I remember feeling ‘sorry’ for him, which I knew through reading was countertransference.
I was confident though that I had adhered to the ethical framework throughout our therapeutic relationship and had discussed ‘endings’ with him on different sessions to prepare him.Alfred Adler claimed that the order of birth is important to child psychological development; in this theory, childhood experiences shape human personality. “Denial (characterized by numbness, removal of material from consciousness, and avoidance of reminders of the stressor) is motivated by the need to protect the ego from the overwhelming power of the stressor.” Roth, S., & Cohen, L.J. (1986) One of the strengths of psychodynamic theory is that it takes into account the both sides of the nature versus nurture debate.
Sigmund Freud’s claim was that the adult personality is the product of our innate drives, which is our nature and our childhood experiences which is nurture. Although his work formed the basis for much of what we know today, that basis was lacking in empirical support. Also, due to advances in neuroscience and the length of time a client spent in therapy, brief psychodynamic therapy evolved. Practitioners of brief psychodynamic therapy believe that some changes can happen through a more rapid process or that an initial short intervention will start an ongoing process of change that does not need the constant involvement of the therapist.
A central concept in brief therapy is that there should be one major focus for the therapy rather than the more traditional psychoanalytic practice of allowing the client to associate freely and discuss unconnected issues (Malan, 1976). During brief therapy the core focus is developed during the initial assessment process, which takes place during the first session or two. This focus must be agreed on by the client and therapist and highlights the most important issues therefore creating a structure and identifying a goal for the treatment. In short, brief therapy is more directive and time limited, regardless of which therapeutic theory is being used. The therapist adopts a more active role instead of a passive role in their relationship with the client.
This I feel is a positive evolutionary process and a much more integrative one, with the client and therapist working in an authentic alliance.