Promoting the Integration of Psychodynamic and Emotion-Focused Psychotherapies Through Advances in Affective Science and Neuroscience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Psychodynamic psychotherapy (PDT) and emotion-focused therapy (EFT) have much in common and much to offer one another. Yet, their differing theoretical foundations create challenges when attempting to integrate the two. PDT is founded on concepts such as the dynamic unconscious, defenses, a developmental perspective and recurrent patterns including transference that are not included in EFT theory. By contrast, EFT is founded on basic affective science rather than clinical observations, a focus on experiencing affect fully rather than simply overcoming defenses and an emphasis on gestalt methods such as 2-chair work rather than working mainly within the experiential field of the therapeutic dyad. If one were to aim for a more balanced integration key psychodynamic concepts would need to be reconceptualized in more empirically-tractable terms and concepts. The central thesis of this paper is that psychodynamic concepts could have broader and more generalized application and potential for integration with other modalities if they were updated in light of advances in affective science and neuroscience. Specific core concepts addressed in this way include unconscious processes, development, conflicts, defenses and the mechanisms of therapeutic change. These conceptual refinements highlight the importance of observable behavior, emotional experiencing and learning in defining the nature of clinical problems and their treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-286
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Volume48
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Keywords

  • Affective science
  • Emotion-focused psychotherapy
  • Integration
  • Mechanisms of change
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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