Psychodynamic therapy is a general term for the type of therapy that has its history in a long, rich past. Psychology in its current form is typically attributed to Sigmund Freud, and, while today’s psychoanalysts are not often merely followers of Freud, many scholars and clinicians have built of this deep understanding of human nature and psyche to enrich and enhance the power of the therapeutic experience.
In an analytical setting, there is a focus on both current issues as well as the roots of these issues. Clients learn how many of their predilections and triggers began, and often spend time exploring issues that have their beginnings in family of origin experiences. The point of psychodynamic therapy is generally to allow the client to live more consciously, and therefore more fully, by freeing him or her from unconscious and often detrimental behaviors and allowing him or her to know themselves in a way that gives them more control to shape and guide the direction taken in life.
Self-psychology is a complex approach, rooted in psychodynamic therapy, but with some distinct points of focus. We focus on creating functional relationships. We create programs for people. At its core, self-psychology is psychoanalytic, but there are crucial differences in how the patient-therapist relationship is viewed. In self-psychology, the therapist uses empathy to gain the patient’s trust. Once the patient trusts the therapist, he or she will talk more, thus enabling the therapist to gather more and better information and thus to make more accurate interpretations.
Self-psychological theory proposes that healthy self-development proceeds from adequate responsiveness of caregivers to the child’s vital emotional needs, including alter ego needs, idealizing needs, and mirroring needs.
Alter Ego Needs
Children need to have involvement with other beings like themselves.
Children need to feel attached to an emotionally stable caregiver who can soothe and calm them.
Children need to feel understood and appreciated, that their feelings mean something.
If these needs are not met in childhood, and throughout the life span, problems will occur. Neglectful parenting – either physical or emotional neglect or worse – abuse – can result in derailments of self development and impair the individual’s ability to form healthy relationships. Adequate parental responsiveness to the child’s affect states (moods and feelings) is particularly vital if the child is to achieve affect differentiation (emotional health and stability) and tolerance.
Self-psychology stresses that individuals need relationships throughout life (relationships that serve to evoke and maintain the integrity and cohesiveness of the self will always be required). Insufficient self-object responsiveness may lead to a personal fragmenting, a distressing affective (emotional) and cognitive (mental – thoughts) state indicating threatened self-cohesion. Fragmentation experiences may range from mild dysphoria (a general feeling of ill being, anxiety, discontent, and physical discomfort) to a panicked sense of impending annihilation or disintegration.
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