Psychodynamic Approaches to Counseling and Therapy

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1386 Words
Date:  2022-05-26

The psychodynamic approach in counseling focuses on the processes in the unconscious mind that influence behavior in human beings. The theory attempts to explain present actions and rationale of people in relation to incidences from their past. It emphasizes the impact of unresolved conflicts and issues, with particular regard to how they shape an individual's life. It encompasses theories based on human drives and the forces that guide behavior. These motivations, often unconscious, are manifested in the different structures of the personality of an individual. Psychodynamics, as an approach to therapy, views the unconscious mind as the principal source of behavior, feelings, and motives. This paper will provide a critical analysis of the psychodynamic approach, and discuss its scope in the United Arab Emirates.

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The psychodynamic approach, in its entirety, was informed by the psychoanalytic theory developed by Sigmund Freud. His research and writings on psychology and therapy largely contributed to the foundations on which psychodynamics was based upon. Established in the early 20th century, this approach sought to analyze psychological forces that determine individual personalities and functioning as human beings. Freud's writings on the components of human character, psychosexual development, and defense mechanisms have influenced psychotherapy offered to clients today.

As a subset of the psychodynamics, Freud's psychoanalytic theory played a significant role in shaping the contributions made by his followers. His works emphasized the school of thought that man's feelings, actions, and judgments are a result of prior repressed memories of unpleasant occurrences. These inhibited thoughts reveal themselves in adulthood, in the form of conflicts and undesired behaviors. The repressed memories have proved valuable to the counseling process.

The value of the childhood experiences in understanding behavior has played a significant role in therapy. Therapists have been able to facilitate self-understanding among the clients, by encouraging them to dig into their past. The approach has, therefore, provided the much-needed insight into the impact of early experiences on behavior. This has been essential to the counseling process, as it has guided the focus of sessions towards resolving problems arising from the past. The approach is thus able to address psychological and behavioral problems stemming from past issues.

The incorporation of nature versus nurture element, in theory, provides a comprehensive framework for therapists to use in affecting the desired change in clients. The inclusion of both aspects has contributed to psychotherapy availed to clients. The approach emphasized the role of both the environment and heredity factors on behavior. This provides a broader perspective on human behavior, and thus, making it effective in facilitating the counseling process. Therefore, psychotherapy changes the undesired behavior, by taking into consideration the two influencing factors.

With the libido as the primary force under this approach, stages of psychosexual development are valuable in explaining human behavior. As human beings develop through these stages, new conflicts arise, increasing the possibility of fixations and unresolved issues. The steps are outlined as oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. A failure in the successful completion of either phase easily puts at risk future contentment and functionality. Counseling, in this case, is effective when it focuses on resolving fixation that occurred at any of these stages.

However, the application of this approach in therapy is limited by its deterministic nature, as it only talks about the undesired behavior based on childhood trauma. Such a determinist perspective hinders the consideration of other factors that may trigger similar behavior. For instance, it disregards the contribution of genes and cognition in the development of certain traits. Ignoring these influences prevents a better understanding of abnormal behaviors.

The unfalsifiable nature of the model limits its effectiveness in psychotherapy. The model provides therapists with accounts of clients that are convincing. However, these cannot be empirically proven to be correct or wrong. As a result, its efficacy in psychodynamic counseling is not guaranteed. The lack of scientific validity limits the use of the model in therapy. Without sufficient research to back up the findings and explanations made by the theory, the model does not entirely meet the threshold.

In addition, psychodynamic counseling relies on subjective interpretations of the therapists. As such, results of case studies cannot be generalized. More often than not, therapists interpret clients' issues depending on their understanding. It is vital to note that problems affecting the clients vary from one person to another. Thus, imposing the interpretation of a single client's case to other scenarios has limited the relevance of the approach in counseling, since it is not an accurate reflection of reasonably large population samples.

A vital feature of the psychodynamic approach to therapy is the psyche. This entails aspects of personality that influence an individual's distinctive characteristics. It is essential to note that the model is limited by its interpretation of psychosexual development and the psyche, which oversimplifies complex constituents of human behavior. Too much focus on the stages of psychosexual development diverts attention from other key factors that may lead to behavior and psychological disorders. It ignores the interpersonal and social factors, yet they can contribute to the success of psychotherapy.

The Scope of Psychodynamic Therapy in UAE

In the UAE, psychodynamic therapy is aimed at understanding emotional issues that arise in the adult Arab population, as a result of childhood experiences. The goal of this approach is to increase the citizens' self-awareness as well as an understanding of issues underlying certain behaviors. The UAE has made considerable achievements in promoting both group and individual counseling for its role in providing essential support to the people. Professional therapists in the UAE have embraced both directive and non-directive techniques in counseling.

The reception of psychodynamic therapy in the UAE has been positive. This is despite presumptions that its application in self-disclosure and gender role development issues would not be well received. Thus, clients engaged in the therapy sessions have been able to deal with their fears and problems stemming from their past. Psychodynamic therapy aims to improve compliance and commitment to the group and individual therapy among the male population of the UAE. The culture and traditions of the UAE as a nation limit the efficacy of therapy programs.

Similarly, the practice of protecting the family from external influence has limited the success of counseling based on this approach. The tendencies to shield the family from sharing private details with people, whom the culture considers as strangers, have negatively affected psychotherapy. The larger UAE population has not readily accepted the role of counseling in the society. Consequently, this has challenged the prospects, which the psychodynamic therapists had envisioned for the nation. The intense desire to maintain the privacy of both individuals and members of the family prevents clients from divulging sensitive information that is vital to the counseling process.

The community's firm belief in destiny has also reduced the effectiveness of psychodynamic counseling. The citizens express doubt that they can change or resolve certain aspects of their life. Thus, they are not proactive in seeking therapy. They hold a mentality that everything occurring in their lives has a purpose. Hence, they are reluctant in adopting approaches such as counseling, which may change or interfere with their destinies.

The unwillingness to divulge information on certain issues when psychodynamic techniques are applied has been highlighted as one the significant challenges. The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy to address concerns of anger and aggressive expression is yet to take root. Thus, the success achieved by the therapy is attributable to its brief and less intensive nature, compared to other counseling approaches present in the UAE. With its origins in psychoanalysis, psychodynamic in the UAE primarily strives to relieve psychologial tension among the population, by revealing the unconscious memory and workings to the client, to improve one's understanding.


In conclusion, psychodynamics as an approach to therapy views the unconscious mind as the principal source of behavior, feelings, and motives. It also concerns itself with the unresolved issues from the past that impact an individual's life as an adult. Thus, it acknowledges the need to gain insight as an essential tool towards the achievement of success in counseling. By delving into the unconscious mind, psychodynamic therapists help clients figure out the causes of their problems. Revisiting of memories from the past helps people to deal with unfinished businesses and unsolved conflicts. Therefore, psychodynamic plays a significant role in therapy and acquisition of self-knowledge.

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Psychodynamic Approaches to Counseling and Therapy. (2022, May 26). Retrieved from

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