Psychodynamic psychotherapy was first created by Sigmund Freud and is the earliest form of modern Western psychotherapy. It has since undergone significant transformation and in its contemporary form includes more recent findings from the field of psychology and places less emphasis on fantasy and unconscious sexual or aggressive drives than when it was first developed Instead focuses more on how early attachment affects people as they move through their lives.
Psychodynamic therapy suggests that early attachment patterns are replicated in present relationships. While these patterns often may show up unconsciously, the therapeutic relationship creates a context in which they can be brought into awareness with the ultimate goal of improving current functioning.
Psychodynamic therapy emphasizes the use of the relationship itself to explore recurrent patterns of relating. Attention is brought to instances of transference, the process through which clients may attribute qualities or attitudes of past significant others or attachment figures onto the therapists, and countertransference, the reactions therapists have to clients. When early conflicts manifest in the therapeutic relationship, they can be worked through and processed in new ways so that defenses that were previously necessary can be released.
References: Summers, R.F. & Barber, J.P. (2010). Psychodynamic therapy: a guide to evidence-based practice. New York: The Guildford Press.
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