3 Apr 2022


Psychoanalytic therapy vs. the postmodern approach

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Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 875

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There are various approaches to counseling, particularly based on the existing theories. This paper focuses on the comparison and contrast of psychoanalytic therapy and postmodern approach to counseling. Firstly, it is important to understand the meaning of these two theories of counseling. Psychoanalytic therapy examines the way the human unconscious mind influences thoughts as well as behaviors with the intention of giving insight as well as resolution to the individual looking for counseling (Capuzzi & Gross, 2011). This approach to counseling is based on the theories of Sigmund Freud. Freud is considered to be the founder of psychoanalysis. On the other hand, the postmodern therapy normally focuses on deconstructing the existing common beliefs and evaluating their significance in the life of a person. In postmodern therapy, the definition of mental health is examined and assumptions commonly held regarding the meaning of success also evaluated (Duncan, Miller, Wampold & Hubble, 2010). The postmodern therapy may also evaluate the meaning of being an adolescent. Therefore, the relationship that exists between the therapist and the patient is more of collaborative than authoritative when it comes to the postmodern therapy.

The psychoanalytic therapy pays attention to experiences of an individual right from childhood in order to establish if the past events have had an impact on the current status of a person. Therefore, psychoanalytic therapy is a long-term process of counseling that may even take months or years. The time taken depends on the seriousness of the condition being addressed. Its distinction from postmodern therapy is that it aims at achieving significant changes in the personality and emotional development of a person. For post-modern therapy, the goal may simply be to get an understanding of a given concept6 from a different perspective that then makes the patient have hope and self-esteem. For instance, post-modern may intend to dispel the feeling and notion that scoring poorly in a school examination amounts to failure in life. The view of post-modern therapy in this case may be that failure is the basis for success. Those who learn through failure get long-lasting success.

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Moreover, in the psychoanalytic kind of therapy, the therapist is the ultimate expert meant to solve the problem of the patient. However, therapists who use the postmodern approach to counseling view the patient as the expert. The postmodern therapists always want to enter the experience of their clients about life and evaluate the thoughts he or she has in the mind. The focus of postmodern therapists is on the solution, but not the existing problem. It is the reason the clients of postmodern therapists are encouraged not to concentrate on the past, but live and think about the present life. The postmodern therapists normally encourage the clients to view their lives in the most positive way. In this case, the client is not supposed to affirm a problem in life and dwell on it, particularly when it is the reason for his or her distress. The client I encouraged to move on and focus on the exceptions. However, psychoanalytic therapy focuses on the existing problem of the client with a view of solving it. The main approach of psychoanalytic therapy is accepting of the problem at hand and using it to find the possible effective solution. 

The psychoanalytic therapists normally spend a lot of time listening to their clients as they narrate life history. The therapist conducting psychoanalysis is keen to listen and establish the useful and significant patterns in the major events mentioned in one’s life story. These events are then linked to the client’s current situation. It is vital to understand some of the important assumptions that inform the psychoanalytic therapy theory. The first assumption that is used in this theory of psychoanalysis is all psychological challenges are based in the unconscious mind of a human being. A psychoanalytic therapist operates based on the assumption that the psychological problem symptoms normally manifest as a result of the hidden disturbances. It is also believed that the main cause of psychological stress is unresolved issues in the course of a client’s development or the repressed trauma. Psychoanalytic therapeutic treatment aims at bringing the repressed conflicts on the surface for them to be visible so that they can be resolved. 

There are various ways through which psychoanalytic therapy is carried out. The first technique is referred to as free association. It has to be understood that free association, in this case, refers to expressing things that are on the mind as they are without censoring of even editing the ideas. The psychoanalytic therapist urges the client to speak freely so that a solution is found. There is also the technique of therapeutic transference. Transference means the manner in which the client transfers thoughts and feelings connected to very significant figures and events in his or her life to the therapist (Halbur & Halbur, 2014). Although this concept may not be able to occur every time, the therapist is supposed to discuss transference with the client so that he or she can find effective ways of dealing with people of significance in life. 

The key similarities between psychoanalytic and postmodern therapies include the fact they involve psychological problems on the part of the client. The two forms of therapies all seek to treat the psychological difficulties of the client. Moreover, it is vital to note that both psychoanalytic and postmodern therapies involve therapist listening to the narration from the client about their lives in order to establish the real problem behind the psychological challenge. The difference is in the way they approach the solution of the psychological problem established. 


Capuzzi, D. & Gross, D. (2011). Counseling and psychotherapy: Theories and interventions 5th Edition). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Duncan, B.L., & Miller, S.D., Wampold, B., & Hubble, M. A. (2010). The heart and soul of change: Delivering what works in therapy (2nd Ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Halbur, D. A., & Halbur, K. V. (2014). Developing your theoretical orientation in counseling and psychotherapy (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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