Introduction to Psychodynamic Theory in Social Work
What is Psychodynamic Theory?
How psychodynamic theory differs from other types of therapy
The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual
A Brief History of Psychodynamic Theory
1. Drive theory
2. Ego psychology
3. Object relations theory
4. Self psychology
Assumptions of Psychodynamic Theory
- All behavior has an underlying cause.
- The causes of a person’s behavior originate in their unconscious.
- Different aspects of a person’s unconscious struggle against each other.
- An adult’s behavior and feelings, including mental health issues, are rooted in childhood experiences.
- Both innate, internal processes and the external environment contribute to adult personality.
Goals of psychodynamic theory
- Acknowledge their emotions. Over time, clients can start to recognize patterns in their emotions and address them, which can lead to making better choices.
- Identify patterns. Clients can begin to see patterns in more than just their emotions, but also their behaviors and relationships. Or, if clients are aware of negative patterns in their life, therapy can help them understand why they make certain choices and give them the power to change.
- Improve interpersonal relationships. Modern psychodynamic theory helps clients understand their relationships, as well as patterns they exhibit with relationships.
- Recognize and address avoidance. Everyone has automatic ways of avoiding bad thoughts and feelings. Therapy can help clients recognize when they’re acting in a way to avoid distress and how to move forward addressing their emotions with healthy coping mechanisms.
Strengths and weaknesses of psychodynamic theory
How Does Psychodynamic Theory Apply to Social Work?
Types of psychodynamic treatments
Criticism of Psychodynamic Theory
Summary of Resources for Further Learning
- Mitchell, S.A., Black, M.J. (1995) Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought, New York: Basic Books.
- Moore, B.E. (1995) Psychoanalysis: The Major Concepts, New Haven, Yale University Press.
- Moore, B.E., Fine, B.R., eds. (1990) Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts, New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Gabbard, G.O. (2004) Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Basic Text, Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.
- McWilliams N. (2004) Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, New York: Guilford Press.
- Greenson, R. (1967) The Theory and Technique of Psychoanalysis, New York: International Universities Press.
- McWilliams, N. (2004) Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: A Practitioner’s Guide. New York: Guilford Press.
- Rockland, L. (1989) Supportive Psychotherapy: A Psychodynamic Approach. New York: Basic Books.
- Lazar, S. (2010). Psychotherapy is Worth It; A Comprehensive Review of Cost Effectiveness, American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Shedler, J. (2010). The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, American Psychologist, 65, 98-109.
- Summers, R., Barber, J. (2009). Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Guide to Evidence Based Practice. The Guilford Press.
- Berzoff, J., L. M. Flanagan, and P. Hertz, eds. (2011) Inside out and outside in: Psychodynamic clinical theory and psychopathology in contemporary multicultural contexts. 3d ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Berzoff, J., ed. (2012) Falling through the cracks: Psychodynamic practice with vulnerable and oppressed populations. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
- Brandell, J. R. (2004) Psychodynamic social work. Foundations of Social Work Knowledge. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
- Goldstein, E. G. (2001) Object relations theory and self psychology in social work practice. New York: Free Press.
- Sudbery, J. (2002) Key features of therapeutic social work: The use of relationships. Journal of Social Work Practice 16.2: 149–162.
- Greene, R.R., & Ephross, P.H. (1991) Classic psychoanalytic thought, contemporary developments, and clinical social work. In R.R. Green & P.H. Ephross (Eds.), Human behavior theory and social work practice (pp. 39-78). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.