Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

  • Kevin John O’Connor
  • Elizabeth Wollheim


The term psychodynamic is used in this chapter to refer to all forms of psychotherapy that derive from classical psychoanalysis as developed by Sigmund Freud (1938). Briefly stated:

In classical psychoanalysis, a client presents with a neurotic symptom that is the result of internal conflict operating out of the client’s conscious awareness due to the use of defense mechanisms. In the therapy sessions the client divulges material related to the areas of conflict, usually in the form of free associations. It is the therapist’s task to organize this material in a manner consistent with psychoanalytic personality theory, and to offer her understanding of the client’s personality dynamics to the client in the form of interpretations. Once the client gains insight, and then works through the material interpreted by the therapist, alleviation of the neurotic symptom occurs. The client is then free to choose to make behavioral changes on the basis of greater self understanding.


Free Association Psychoanalytic Theory Personality Structure Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Primary Caretaker 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin John O’Connor
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Wollheim
    • 1
  1. 1.California School of Professional PsychologyFresnoUSA

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