The process of change emerges from the use of traditional and modified techniques to bring awareness to the client and frame current maladaptive behaviors in the context of prior experiences contributing to current circumstances in the client's life. Recently, psychoanalytic theory has expanded to include an emphasis on the treatment of serious mental health issues, cross-cultural considerations, and brief applications across contexts.
Goals of Counseling and Psychotherapy
Psychoanalytic theory focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in the client's present behavior. The general goals of psychodynamic counseling are client self- awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior, and the correction of the client's distortions is often the primary focus of therapeutic treatment (Thomas, 2008).
The primary goal of psychoanalysis is to bring the drives of the id into consciousness, allowing them to be understood and addressed directly, thus reducing the client's reliance on defense mechanisms to function in social contexts (Levenson, 2007). By elucidating symptoms to bring the unconscious into consciousness or awareness, the ego is strengthened and the client learns to express his or her needs and wants within a realistic paradigm, resulting in a greater balance between the id and superego.
The Process of Change
The basic method of psychoanalysis is the analysis and interpretation of the client's unconscious conflicts that are interfering with daily functioning. This is done using a variety of traditional strategies and techniques, such as the analysis of dreams, transference, resistance, and defenses, which encourage the client to increase his or her awareness of how the processes and behaviors have manifested and how to cope with new experiences in a more healthful, productive manner. In its brief form, a psychodynamic approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in maladaptive symptoms and behaviors.