Psychodynamic Therapy involves an exploration of a client's past, particularly their childhood experiences. What is the value of exploring a client's past in this approach? Thanks!
Learning about the origins of where this theory came from was very interesting for me, as it was by accident when I first started to realise how much our earliest childhood experiences could damage and affect people. I actually thought prior to that realisation that I had an okay childhood, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it wasn’t and I was confronted with a lot of deeply buried and unresolved feelings which I had no idea were even there up till then. Since overcoming this miserable period through a lot of self-talk (Corey, 2013), I was much more aware of how so many other people seemed to be affected by their past as well and how it’s shaped who they are as a person and how it is at the root of a lot of their problems in their lives. “Our past life is always a vital part of the person we are presently becoming.” (Corey, 2013, p. 76) I noticed as well, that people generally feel uncomfortable exploring and discussing these issues. Some people I know even start to panic, feel anxious and completely shut down from not wanting to face reality, preferring to remain ignorant to it in order to protect themselves. “Ego-defence mechanisms help the individual cope with anxiety and prevent the ego from being overwhelmed.” (Corey, 2013, p. 66) Delving into the depths of our most traumatic memories is no easy feat. Most people repress these memories and prefer to not think about it, and the only reason why I did want to think about it was because my curiosity and my need to understand the nature of everything consumed me more than my fear and anxiety did. It helped me face these issues, and in hindsight, I am especially glad that I did, as I recognize now that it was a very necessary step for me to take in terms of my personal development. Exploring a client’s past is something I would regard as important to the therapeutic process, as we may be able to trace back to when or where their problems originated from, to discover which unconscious processes may be at the root of their neurotic symptoms and behaviour, and client’s in turn, achieve insight and awareness of underlying dynamics and ways to change it, strengthen their ego so that behaviour is based more on reality and less on instinctual cravings or irrational guilt, and thus gain more control over their lives. (Corey, 2013) Even though we realize that expansion is often a painful process, clients need to learn that a price must be paid for increased awareness. (Corey, 2013, p. 147) It’s a step which I hope to help clients with one day, to help them find the courage to face their own reality as “ignorance of our condition may have brought contentment along with a feeling of partial deadness, but as we open the doors in our world, we can expect more turmoil as well as the potential for more fulfilment.” (Corey, 2013, p. 147)
Corey, G. (2013). Theories and Practice of Counselling and Psychotherapy. (9th ed.) Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole CENGAGE Learning.
From my own experiences, I think it is important to address the issues of our past and to learn about how we are influenced by it, as repressed material can interfere with our healthy functioning. (Corey, G, 2013, p. 66) And by exploring a client’s past, we are able to learn about how their unconscious processes may be at the root of their neurotic symptoms and behaviours, and client’s in turn, achieve insight and awareness of ways to change, strengthen their ego so that behaviour is based more on reality and less on instinctual cravings or irrational guilt, and thus gain more control over their lives. (Corey, G, 2013) Exploring a client’s past is something I would regard as important to the therapeutic process, as it may uncover the historical roots of their difficulties learning how...
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