The ego is not master in its own house
– S. Freud
In 2017 the APA publication of Monitor on Psychology published an article titled, “Not Your Great-grandfather’s Psychoanalysis” reviewing some of the valid reasons why psychoanalysis and modern psychoanalytic therapies have somewhat fallen out of favour in the in counselling and therapy. The author, Novotney (2017), explained that historically, elitism in the field backfired when practitioners ignored the need for empirical evidence while other therapies gained momentum in academic literature. This, in addition to (for some) the cringe of Freud’s writings on unconscious sexual drives, and let’s be real here…at times oppressive and misogynistic views have served to drown out the very essence of psychoanalytic work; at its core, the therapeutic relationship is the therapy.
As a psychodynamically oriented clinical supervisor, I see in aspiring and new clinicians how much the psychoanalytic perspective has been neglected in their academic curriculum which inevitably leads to omission in practice. There is enormous pressure from employers and even insurance providers to choose from a prescribed list of therapies that fit into a tight timeline with distinct (and therefore limited) measurable outcomes. In a fast-paced world, the tenents of psychoanalysis can be an instant turn off for some clients when they ask, ‘how long until things change for me?’, because the psychoanalytic response is, ‘as long as it takes’.
Psychodynamic therapy as an evolution of psychoanalysis seeks to take the client and practitioner on a journey of enlightenment and understanding of deep truths. One cannot travel without the other and both are transformed in the process. As a practitioner, you are steered by the oars of transference and countertransference. These tools guide change through empathy, understanding, and validation. They dig deep into the recesses of the unconscious and dredge up self-knowledge long forgotten or displaced. In this way, all manner of therapies can compliment a psychodynamic viewpoint because understanding the navel of the problem is key.
In supervision, we examine the changes that comes from learning these truths as they appear. They are the others in the room; the shadow of the client and the shadow of the practitioner investing in a relationship of love, understanding, and transformation.
Talia Singer PhD RN RP is a psychiatric nurse, art therapist, registered psychotherapist, and clinical supervisor working at Acutoronto Wellness Clinic. She is an approved Blue Cross mental health care provider. Contact Acutoronto to book an appointment today at (416) 486-5222.