Contrast psychodynamic and interpersonal therapy with traditional psychoanalysis
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?
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.
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.
Difference Between Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Therapy
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.
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.
“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
Psychoanalytic therapy is a form of talk therapy based on Sigmund Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis. The approach explores how the unconscious mind influences your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Specifically, it examines how your experiences (often from childhood) may be contributing to your current experience and actions. Psychoanalytic approaches to emotional disorders have advanced a great deal since Freud’s time.
Freud described the unconscious as the reservoir of desires, thoughts, and memories that are below the surface of conscious awareness. He believed that these unconscious influences could often lead to psychological distress and disturbances.
People undergoing psychoanalytic therapy often meet with their psychoanalyst at least once a week. They can remain in therapy for months or even years.
Psychoanalysts use a variety of techniques to gain insight into your behavior. Some of the more popular techniques include:
- Dream interpretation: According to Freud, dream analysis is by far the most important psychoanalytic technique. He often referred to dreams as “the royal road to the unconscious.” Psychoanalysts may interpret dreams to get insight into the workings of your unconscious mind.
- Free association: Free association is an exercise during which the psychoanalyst encourages you to freely share your thoughts. This can lead to the emergence of unexpected connections and memories.
- Transference: Transference occurs when you project your feelings about another person onto the psychoanalyst. You’ll then interact with them as if they were that other person. This technique can help your psychoanalyst understand how you interact with others.
Psychoanalysts spend a lot of time listening to people talk about their lives, which is why this method is often referred to as “the talking cure.”
What Psychoanalytic Therapy Can Help With
Psychoanalytic therapy may be used to treat a number of different psychological conditions, including:
- Emotion struggles or trauma
- Identity problems
- Self-esteem issues
- Psychosomatic disorders
- Relationship issues
- Self-destructive behavior
- Sexual problems
Benefits of Psychoanalytic Therapy
What makes psychoanalytic therapy different from other forms of treatment? A review of the research comparing psychoanalytic approaches to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) identified seven features that set the psychoanalytic approach apart.
- Focuses on emotions. Where CBT is centered on cognition and behaviors, psychoanalytic therapy explores the full range of emotions that a patient is experiencing.
- Explores avoidance. People often avoid certain feelings, thoughts, and situations they find distressing. Understanding what a client is avoiding can help both the psychoanalyst and the client understand why such avoidance comes into play.
- Identifies recurring themes. Some people may be aware of their self-destructive behaviors but unable to stop them. Others may not be aware of these patterns and how they influence their behaviors.
- Exploration of past experienced. Other therapies often focus more on the here-and-now, or how current thoughts and behaviors influence how a person functions. The psychoanalytic approach helps people explore their pasts and understand how it affects their present psychological difficulties. It can help patients shed the bonds of past experience to live more fully in the present.
- Explores interpersonal relationships. Through the therapy process, people are able to explore their relationships with others, both current and past.
- Emphasizes the therapeutic relationship. Because psychoanalytic therapy is so personal, the relationship between the psychoanalyst and the patient provides a unique opportunity to explore and reword relational patterns that emerge in the treatment relationship.
- Free-flowing. Where other therapies are often highly structured and goal-oriented, psychoanalytic therapy allows the patient to explore freely. Patients are free to talk about fears, fantasies, desires, and dreams.
As with any approach to mental health treatment, psychoanalytic therapy can have its pluses and minuses. Before deciding on this approach, it’s important to take these factors into account.
Success often hinges on the ability to confront potentially stressful or triggering experiences. While some critics have derided the success rates of psychoanalytic therapy, research suggests that both long- and short-term psychoanalytic therapy can effectively treat a range of conditions.
Long-term psychoanalytic therapy is usually defined as lasting one year or 50 sessions. Short-term psychoanalytic therapy, on the other hand, is defined as fewer than 40 sessions or less than one year of treatment.
One review of the effectiveness of long-term psychoanalytic therapies found moderate to large success rates for reducing symptoms of a variety of psychopathologies.
A 2021 review of studies found that short-term psychoanalytic therapy led to lasting improvements in somatic symptoms, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms.
People who receive psychoanalytic treatment tend to retain these gains. Most continue to improve even after therapy ends. On the other hand, the benefits of other evidence-based therapies tend to diminish over time.
A 2010 review published in the American Psychologist suggested that psychoanalytic therapy was as effective as other evidence-based therapies.
Things to Consider
As with all treatment methods, there are also potential downsides that should be considered. This form of therapy tends to require ongoing sessions. Traditional psychoanalysis could involve three to five sessions a week for several years, however psychoanalysis psychotherapy is less frequent and may be undertaken once to twice a week. Depending on how long your therapy lasts, the costs can mount up.
Psychoanalytic therapy can also be an intense process. It involves evoking emotional responses and often challenges established defense mechanisms. While the process can sometimes result in uneasiness, it can also help you understand the unconscious forces that exert an influence over your current behavior.
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How to Get Started
If you think you or someone you love would benefit from psychoanalytic therapy, the first step is to seek out a trained professional. To find a qualified psychoanalyst, start by asking your primary care physician for recommendations. You can also search the directory available on the American Psychoanalytic Association’s website.
Friends who have had a good experience with psychoanalytic treatment can also be another good source of recommendations. If you do not have a good referral from someone you know, there are a number of online psychoanalyst networks and directories that can point you in the right direction.
Once you have identified a potential psychoanalyst, make a call to set up an initial consultation. During this consultation, you can further explore if psychoanalytic therapy is the right approach for you.
Psychoanalytic therapy is just one mental health treatment approach that you may want to consider. Always talk to your doctor or therapist to determine which psychotherapy method might be the most effective for your individual needs.