Psychodynamic Psychotherapies

Psychodynamic means “the mind in motion.” Psychodynamic psychotherapy refers to psychotherapies that stem from the psychoanalytic tradition and focus on the role of conflicting forces within the mind—competing desires, impulses, emotions, fears, and prohibitions—and their interface with external reality as sources of suffering and symptoms. The psychoanalytic tradition centers on the understanding of the mind elaborated initially by Freud (1923/1961) that emphasizes the role of unconscious aspects of mental functioning and the interaction of constitutional biological predispositions and environmental influences in psychological development. While psychodynamic therapies are primarily psychological treatments, in the course of the therapy, the therapist must continue to assess the impact of biological factors that affect the patient’s condition. As psychoanalysis evolved, its focus shifted from symptoms to character pathology (Gabbard 2005). More recently, with the emphasis on evidence-based treatments, models of psychodynamic therapy to treat specific types of personality disorder (PD) have been developed and researched (Bateman and Fonagy 2012; Clarkin et al. 2006; Yeomans et al. 2015). As the field continues to evolve, the dialogue between evidence-based models and clinical analytic practice is enriching both. As part of our discussion of the psychotherapy of personality disorders, we will also review the evolving conceptualization of those disorders.
Frank Yeomans, John Clarkin, KN Levy
3/31/2021

The American Psychiatric Association Publishing Textbook of Personality Disorders

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