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Psychoanalytic Therapy

Source: Corey, G. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 9th Ed

Basic Philosophy Human beings are basically determined by psychic energy and by early experiences.
Unconscious motives and conflicts are central in present behavior. Early development is of
critical importance because later personality problems have their roots in repressed
childhood conflicts.

Key Concept Normal personality development is based on successful resolution and integration of
psychosexual stages of development. Faulty personality development is the result of
inadequate resolution of some specifi c stage. Anxiety is a result of repression of basic
confl icts. Unconscious processes are centrally related to current behavior.
Goals of Therapy To make the unconscious conscious. To reconstruct the basic personality. To assist clients
in reliving earlier experiences and working through repressed confl icts. To achieve
intellectual and emotional awareness.

Therapeutic The classical analyst remains anonymous, and clients develop projections toward him or
Relationship her. Focus is on reducing the resistances that develop in working with transference and on
establishing more rational control. Clients undergo long-term analysis, engage in free
association to uncover conflicts, and gain insight by talking. The analyst makes
interpretations to teach clients the meaning of current behavior as it relates to the past. In
contemporary relational psychoanalytic therapy, the relationship is central and emphasis
is given to here-and now dimensions of this relationship.

Techniques of The key techniques are interpretation, dream analysis, free association, analysis of
Therapy resistance, analysis of transference, and countertransference. Techniques are designed to
help clients gain access to their unconscious confl icts, which leads to insight and eventual
assimilation of new material by the ego.

Application Candidates for analytic therapy include professionals who want to become therapists,
people who have had intensive therapy and want to go further, and those who are in
psychological pain. Analytic therapy is not recommended for self-centered and impulsive
individuals or for people with psychotic disorders. Techniques can be applied to individual
and group therapy.

Contribution More than any other system, this approach has generated controversy as well as
exploration and has stimulated further thinking and development of therapy. It has
provided a detailed and comprehensive description of personality structure and
functioning. It has brought into prominence factors such as the unconscious as a
determinant of behavior and the role of trauma during the first 6 years of life. It has
developed several techniques for tapping the unconscious and shed light on the dynamics
of transference and countertransference, resistance, anxiety, and the mechanisms of ego
Limitation Requires lengthy training for therapists and much time and expense for clients. The model
stresses biological and instinctual factors to the neglect of social, cultural, and
interpersonal ones. Its methods are less applicable for solving specifi c daily life problems
of clients and may not be appropriate for some ethnic and cultural groups. Many clients
lack the degree of ego strength needed for regressive and reconstructive therapy. It may
be inappropriate for certain counseling settings.