9 Differences Between Psychoanalysis And Psychodynamic Therapy

Sigmund Freud’s theories have given rise to a very broad set of psychotherapeutic interventions. Many people classify as “psychoanalysis” any treatment derived from Freud’s ideas, but currently psychodynamic therapies have acquired great relevance, overcoming basic limitations of traditional psychoanalysis.

It is neither simple nor completely adequate Differentiate between psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies since both types of intervention share key aspects and overlap to a large extent. Even so, we can establish a series of differentiations that give an idea of ​​the distance between the dynamic therapies that currently exist.

What is psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques which aims to treat mental disorders through the analysis of unconscious life. It is one of the oldest psychological therapies, dating back to the last decade of the 19th century, and introduced approaches that were later taken up by many psychotherapeutic approaches.

Authors such as Jean-Martin Charcot and Breuer influenced the emergence of psychoanalysis, but The term and its founding are attributed to Sigmund Freud and his book The interpretation of dreams1899. Later Carl Gustav Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney and other disciples of Freud developed psychoanalysis in different directions, moving away from the master.

According to psychoanalysis, personality is largely determined by childhood experiences, which exert a significant influence on thought, emotion and behavior. The therapeutic objective is for this unconscious material to pass into consciousness through the analysis of involuntary behavior, dreams and transference.

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The most characteristic type of intervention of this current It is the psychoanalytic type cure, in which the transference neurosis is analyzed in deep. Classic elements of psychoanalysis, such as the use of the couch, the therapist’s abstinence, the globality of the therapeutic focus and the long duration of the treatment, are identified with the typical cure.

Psychodynamic therapies

Psychodynamic therapies are a series of interventions based on certain concepts of psychoanalytic theory. In particular, this type of psychotherapies focuses on active influence of unconscious processes in the conscious behavior, thought and emotions of the current moment.

These psychotherapies share fundamental elements with psychoanalysis, especially the emphasis on the unconscious and the theoretical anchoring in the contributions of Freud and his followers. However, the term “psychodynamic therapy” is used in opposition to “psychoanalysis” to differentiate the classical method from other more modernized and scientific methods.

There are a large number of therapies that fall into this category. Among them, Rogers’ client-centered therapy and Klerman and Weissman’s interpersonal therapy stand out in particular. More recently, other influential psychodynamic therapies have emerged such as mentalization therapy and time-limited psychotherapy.

Differences between psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies

It is impossible to make definitive distinctions between psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies because both concepts overlap. However, broadly speaking we can establish a series of characteristics that are frequently used to distinguish between these two types of intervention.

1. Duration of treatment

The duration of treatment is the main criterion of distinction between classical psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies if we focus on an analysis of their practice. Thus, while psychoanalysis can last up to 5 years, psychodynamic therapies are shorter since they focus on the patient’s current problems and not on their personality as a whole.

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2. Frequency of sessions

Psychoanalysis is a much more intensive treatment than psychodynamic therapies. The psychoanalytic type cure is practiced 3 or 4 times a week; For their part, psychodynamic therapy sessions have a more variable frequency, taking place weekly or even less regularly.

3. Framing of therapy

Traditionally, the couch has been used in psychoanalytic treatment, which makes it easier for patients to concentrate and access unconscious material without the distractions of direct interaction with the therapist, who is also not very participatory.

The evolution of psychoanalysis towards psychodynamic therapies has encouraged a flexibility in the framework. Thus, therapists who apply this type of intervention tend to be more active and direct, and in many cases the therapist and the patient are face to face. In a synthetic way, psychodynamic therapies are more adapted to each particular case.

4. Depth of analysis

Psychodynamic therapies have been developed largely as ways of applying the approaches of psychoanalysis to the management of specific problems. This makes them much more efficient and, according to some people, superficial, since the traditional objective of modify personality structure as a whole.

5. Therapeutic focuses

This difference is linked to the depth of the analysis. While many psychodynamic therapies focus on unconscious processes related to the client’s reason for consultation, in psychoanalysis the need to manage multiple and mobile foci arises: the unconscious thoughts that arise from the therapeutic relationship and the transference. In a certain sense, psychoanalysts aim to intervene in conflicts that the patient does not know he has (something not without controversy).

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6. Theoretical foundation

Currently, when we talk about psychoanalysis we refer to interventions that focus mainly on Freud’s contributions. On the other hand, psychodynamic therapies reflect to a greater extent the advances of later authors such as Klein, Jung, Lacan or Winnicott, emphasizing concepts such as attachment or defense mechanisms.

7. Techniques used

Classic techniques of psychoanalysis include free association, dream interpretation or the analysis of resistance and transfer. Psychodynamic therapies include these contributions but in many cases have a more eclectic character, including techniques from other orientations, such as behavioral, cognitive and experiential.

8. Research on effectiveness

Psychoanalysis has historically been characterized by its rejection of experimental and scientific methods, based above all on the theories developed by key authors. However, some of the hypotheses raised by psychoanalysts have subsequently been validated by scientific research, such as attachment theory.

Instead, many psychodynamic therapies are based on scientific evidence on the effectiveness of the methods. The effect size of these therapies is clearly greater than that of psychoanalysis in the treatment of most specific disorders.

9. Therapeutic indications

Traditionally, psychoanalysis has focused on two main groups of disorders: neurosis and hysteria. The developments of certain psychodynamic therapies have allowed their application to a greater number of psychological disorders, including personality disorders and psychoses.