Understanding the Term “Psychodynamic Psychotherapy” and It’s Relationship to Science

Leonard Schwartzburd, Ph.D., FAAP

Interested people with a college education should be able to find the following useful

The term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy has a history it has outlived.   Just about everyone knows that psychoanalysis as Freud created it is now a very important museum piece that can help us to understand our roots as a profession, just as understanding  Francis Bacon (1561–1626) casts light on his seminal role in the creation of science and deepens our understanding of science.  There are basic principles that endure.  Freud wasn’t always a nice man (see Ernest Jones Biography of Freud) but all who followed, Jung, Adler and many more stood on his shoulders.

It is time to give this form of psychotherapy the broader meaning that properly defines it.  We at the Berkeley Institute of Behavioral Health and Psychological services (Berkeley Psychotherapy) practice an eclectic form of psychotherapy with  roots  found  firmly  in  psychoanalytic  topographical  theory   (theory of personality) as it has evolved into what has been broadly called “psychodynamic.”

In the February-March 2010 issue of the American Psychologist , the flagship publication of the American Psychological Association,  Dr. Jonathan Shedler, a University of Colorado Medical School  psychologist published a bomb shell of a study that was literally heard around the world, The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.  (For readers with a taste for the scientific data in context let me know and I’ll send it to you as an attachment.)

But long story short, Dr. Shedler, by bringing together hundreds of studies, appears to have laid asunder those naysayers who would compare the kind of work we at Berkeley Psychotherapy and indeed many psychotherapists do–to fortune telling and it’s like.  It is clearly the most effective form of psychotherapy bar none because it combines the various methods that experience has taught us work regardless of theoretical orientation. Studies have shown that what psychotherapists of various theoretical schools actually do has less to do with the theory they claim, but rather that the longer they have been practicing the more alike what they do becomes.   And psychodynamic psychotherapy beats drugs, though sometimes useful, hands down.

I feel the need to share my personal/professional joy  that the managed care insurance companies and the drug companies who have used their power and influence to truncate psychotherapy and indeed threaten to end it for future generations have been so effectively responded to.   I am most grateful to Dr. Shedler for his work.

Below is the link to and excerpts from Dr. Shedler’s excellent narrative piece on Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.   The reference and excerpt below are taken from the Reference Library of The American Academy of Psychotherapists, to hopefully become available to the public on the Academy website by November of this year.

410 Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Shedler, Jonathan (2006) That Was Then This Is   Now: An introduction to Psychodynamic  psychotherapy.

Link to article: http://tinyurl.com/4yfylsn

Excerpts: “The title is a double entendre. “That was then, this is now” alludes to a central aim of psychoanalytic therapy, which is to help free people from the bonds of past experience in order to live more fully in the present.” … “The title also alludes to sea changes in psychoanalytic thinking that have occurred over the past decades. For too many, the term “psychoanalysis” conjures up century old stereotypes that bear little resemblance to what contemporary practitioners think and do. ”

“Psychoanalysis has contributed a vocabulary with which to talk about inner contradiction, and techniques for working with contradictions in ways that can help alleviate suffering. George Bernard Shaw once wrote, ‘Wisdom is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time and still continue to function.’ Psychoanalytic psychotherapy seeks to cultivate just this form of wisdom. ”

“In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, our patients’ perceptions of us are not incidental to treatment and they are not interferences or distractions from the work. They are at the heart of therapy. It is specifically because old patterns, scripts, expectations, desires, schemas (call them what you will) become active and “alive” in the therapy sessions that we are able to help patients examine, understand, and rework them. ”

“I was a bit surprised when I heard my students who identify themselves as “radical behaviorists” discussing something called a “CRB” (an acronym for “Clinically Relevant Behavior”). A CRB is defined as an instance of symptomatic behavior expressed in the therapy session toward the therapist—in other words, transference. From the point of view of radical behaviorism, effective intervention involves helping patients recognize CRBs and develop new ways of relating (Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991). Such convergences among schools of therapy are not surprising.”‘

The following link to a Consumer Reports Article on psychotherapy may be of interest to some readers.  It was written By Martin Seligman, Ph.D.  a past President of the American Psychological Association.


Areas We Provide Psychotherapy Services To:

The Berkeley Institute provides psychotherapy services to Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito, Piedmont, Emeryville, Orinda, Alameda, San Leandro, Hayward, Walnut Creek, Richmond, El Sobrante, San Pablo, LaFayette, San Rafael, San Francisco, Tiburon, Sausalito and surrounding areas.

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