Psychodynamic Therapy or Counseling Essay

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Sources: 2
  • Subject: Counseling
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #42098470

Excerpt from Essay :

Psychodynamic therapy is an approach to counseling that was introduced by Sigmund Freud whose work in psychoanalytic counseling was influenced by his jealous and bitter feelings towards his younger brother and his Jewish heritage that emphasized in-depth analysis. Unlike some therapy approaches, psychodynamic therapy focuses on an in-depth analysis of an individual's thoughts while seemingly ignoring the trappings of science. In addition, this approach primarily focuses on the unconscious based on its role in human development and psychological problems. Consequently, this approach to counseling facilitates an in-depth analysis of a person's psychological problems given that the root of our problems emanate from our past. Therefore, psychodynamic therapy is a suitable approach to counseling that can be further understood through the four quadrants in integral theory.

Overview of Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is commonly known as psychoanalytic therapy and examines personality and psychological problems in terms of the unconscious. This therapy was developed by Sigmund Freud who states that unconscious psychological processes like fear shape an individual's personality. Based on his childhood experiences, Freud contends that unconscious psychological processes are strongly linked to human development and psychological problems (Ivey, D'Andrea & Ivey, 2012, p.175). For instance, Freud's jealously and bitter feelings towards his younger brother as well as his Jewish heritage that emphasized in-depth analysis influenced adult personality and work in the field of psychology. Therefore, this therapy is based on the belief that childhood experiences determine an individual's present actions and behaviors.

When using this approach to counseling, the therapy focuses on exploring a client's unconscious thoughts and emotions in order for him/her to better understand him/herself. In this case, the client's developmental history is taking into consideration in order to understand his/her present life. This is primarily because events that take place at early developmental stages of an individual affect his/her present psychological functioning. However, people remain largely unaware (unconscious) of what contributes to their behaviors such as past attachments, biological factors, and cultural determinants. The consideration of unconscious when dealing with a client's psychological problems is fueled by its view as a reservoir of memories as well as neurological and biological forces. Actually, the unconscious stores an individual's feelings that he/she is scared to open up about. From a personal perspective, the root of an individual's problems comes from the past. Therefore, it's vital to examine a person's past in order to begin helping him/her heal or discover his/her issues.

Four Quadrants and Psychodynamic Therapy

Ken Wilber introduced the integral theory of human development, which helps in understanding of mental health and human development (Ivey, D'Andrea & Ivey, 2012, p.10). Based on the integral theory, mental health and human development can be understood through comprehensive and holistic analysis of these concepts. When these concepts are incorporated in a counseling and/or psychotherapy approach, mental health professionals examine different aspects of the client's interactional nature. Some of these important aspects include cultural identity, and biological, physical and neurological processes. Wilber's integrated theory also comprises four quadrants that can be used to understand approaches to counseling and psychotherapy. These four quadrants are the individual perceptions and meaning making quadrant, the behavioral/physical/neurological quadrant, the cultural community quadrant, and the societal/professional quadrant. The four quadrants can be used to help understand the psychodynamic approach to counseling by Sigmund Freud.

Quadrant I and Psychodynamic Therapy

The first quadrant (the individual perceptions and meaning making quadrant) is interior and subjective. The interior nature of this quadrant includes conscious, subconscious and unconscious psychological processes while its subjectivity is the skewed construction of life experiences. This quadrant facilitates understanding of psychodynamic therapy by highlighting the significance of psychological processes in a person's development. In this case, unconscious psychological processes shape a person's perceptions and meaning of life experiences and events. Actually, one of the core components of psychodynamic approach to counseling is the primacy of the unconscious. While most of an individual's perceptions and meanings are derived from conscious awareness, understanding the unconscious (which is usually ignored) is crucial. From a psychoanalytic perspective, the activities of the brain or psyche are largely influenced by unconscious psychological processes (Bornstein, 2013).

Based on the influence of psychological processes, people construct meaning of their worlds. In essence, an individual's worldview comes from psychological processes that in turn shape beliefs, biases, and values. In light of the significance of psychological processes in shaping a person's constructions of life experiences, unconscious psychological processes are crucial because they dominate activities of the brain. Unconscious psychological processes generate biological and neurological drives that influence perceptions and meanings. Therefore, when an individual is experiencing psychological problems, it's important to examine the unconscious because of the biological and neurological drives it generates.

Quadrant II and Psychodynamic Theory

The second quadrant (the behavioral/physical/neurological quadrant) looks at an individual's experience from the individual or behavioral perspective. This quadrant demonstrates what a person's thoughts looks like from the exterior of the one thinking. Through this quadrant, a therapist or counselor can understand the…

Sources Used in Document:


Bornstein, R. (2013). The Psychodynamic Perspective. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

Esbjorn-Hargens, S. (2009, March 12). An Overview of Integral Theory. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

Ivey, A. E., D'Andrea, M. J., & Ivey, M. B. (2012). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy. A multicultural perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

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