Psychodynamic Approaches to Counselling

Psychodynamic Approaches to Counselling


In this essay I will explain the main principles that underpin psychodynamic theory, I will then analyse the theoretical developments in psychodynamic theory, as well as the implications of psychodynamic theory for counselling practice.   Finally, I will assess the strengths and weaknesses of psychodynamic theory as it pertains to counselling practise.

Unit 1, Outcome 1, 1.1: Explain the main principles that underpin psychodynamic theory in relation to counselling.

The main principle at the heart of psychodynamic theory in relation to counselling can be summarised in that our past experiences informs and sometimes governs our present behaviour. Psychodynamic counselling theory pays particular attention to a person’s past and early life experience, for it is believed that this aspect of a person’s past has a profound effect on the development of their adult personality.   Furthermore, psychodynamic theory suggests that a person actually replays past relationships (often first developed in childhood) throughout their lives with the different people they encounter.   This phenomenon is called transference.  
  Transference is an unconscious mechanism, in being so, most people engage in it unintentionally.   Psychodynamic theorists believe that it is present in every human relationship, but it is in the counselling room that it can be identified and worked with.   For a client, a counsellor becomes a figure with whom they act out their own transference relationships.   In doing so, they can be made aware of it, work with it, and hopefully begin to repair and/or overcome any difficulties that their transference patterns have created in their lives.
  The work done on transference within the counselling room necessarily implies that the client’s transference emerges in relation to the counsellor they are working with, but there appears also another transference...