Psychodynamic Theory and Practice, Introduction to Counselling and Counselling SkillsMike Toller – Birkbeck College, London, Spring 2012
Discuss your understanding of the theory and practice of PsychodynamicCounselling. Demonstrate in particular your understanding of transference andcounter-transference, and illustrate with an example from your own experience.
IntroductionIn her book ‘Counselling Young People’, Ellen Noonan introduces the principles of psychoanalytic theory with the qualifying statement that:The theoretical literature of psychoanalysis is vast and detailed, often making itdifficult to see the wood for the trees. (Noonan, 1983, p29).In saying this, she sums up the fact that psychodynamic theories are hugely varied,often contradictory and inevitably written in a way that makes them difficult to get togrips with.In part, this is due to the fact that even in the relatively short time since Freud began todevelop his theories of the mind, the amount of new thought in the field has been huge.In addition to this, new ideas have often been described using a psychological lexicon1

which can be impenetrable, especially when used to describe highly abstract ideasabout processes that are entirely intangible.When reading about these ideas, it is easy to forget that they exist to help usunderstand behaviour and feelings in real people. Jacobs draws attention to this whenhe says:The love and the hate between a parent and a child, and within each of them, are just as significant as orality, anality and sexuality... Hence the appeal of [the term]object relations theory... An approximate synonym for ‘object relations’ is‘personal relationships’ (Jacobs, 2010, p10).In this essay, I will summarise some of the theories that make up psychodynamicthought, focusing on the work of Freud, Klein and Winnicott. Then, I will look at the keyconcepts of transference and counter-transference and their importance inpsychodynamic theory and practice. Finally, I will consider...