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: Psychoanalytic Theory

Adrianne L. Johnson

The concepts of psychoanalysis have become interwoven into the fabric of our culture, with terms such as Freudian slip, repression, and denial appearing regularly in everyday language. Psychoanalytic theory is based on the concept that individuals are unaware of the many factors that cause their maladaptive behaviors and discomforting emotions. Psychoanalytic treatment is highly individualized and seeks to show how early childhood experiences have affected the formative aspects of one's personality development. The techniques and strategies in this approach are used to illustrate to the client how unconscious thoughts and defenses formed early in life affect behavior patterns, relationships, and overall mental health (Thomas, 2008).

The general goals of psychodynamic counseling are client self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior, and correction of the client's distortion is often the primary focus of therapeutic treatment (Thomas, 2008). And while traditional psychoanalysis has adhered to conventional techniques to achieve counseling goals, the theory has evolved to include multicultural considerations and implications for managed care to enhance the theory's effectiveness with a greater number of clients.

The aim of this chapter is to help counselors gain an understanding of psychoanalytic theory and its applications. The goals of this chapter are to help counselors meet the following objectives: (a) to gain a basic understanding of the foundation, history, and development of psychoanalytic theory; (b) to gain a basic understanding of the implications of psychoanalytic theory across populations and contexts; and (c) to gain a basic understanding of how to apply traditional and brief psychoanalytic techniques in counseling for the most effective outcome.

 
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