Each year I sit down with trainees to review our goals for supervision and collaborate around areas of growth. For many, learning about psychodynamic psychotherapy is often at the top of the list.
This post discusses different dimensions of psychodynamic therapy that present-day practitioners think about when they work with their patients and provides practical questions to aid in addressing these dimensions in practice.
A new client recently asked me where I would be traveling for an upcoming trip as we looked at our schedules to make her next appointment. When she expressed further curiosity about the conference I would be attending, I explained that it was an annual conference of the society for psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychology. A fairly surprised look appeared on her face, and she questioned, “like Freud?”
I readily picked up on her discomfort with the thought of psychoanalysis or being psychoanalyzed. I clarified that she was not meeting with me for psychoanalysis and offered some explanation of basic psychodynamic principles and how these applied to our initial goals for therapy. She seemed to accept my explanation, but mostly just seemed glad to know she wasn’t meeting for psychoanalysis.
Psychodynamic therapy is one of several approaches to therapy used today. However, it is often misunderstood and dismissed as an outmoded approach or historical artifact. It is also often misrepresented in popular culture and sometimes seen as irrelevant to the quick-fix demands of the public and the limitations of insurance.
Supervisors are central to training in graduate school, and every supervisor has their own style. Some supervisors prefer a hands-off approach and expect a trainee to take the lead in raising concerns. Other supervisors are much more hands-on and provide detailed feedback on a regular basis. Others may vary in terms of focus, with some supervisors most concerned about teaching particular approaches and some more interested in your own ideas about theory, or your growth from a developmental perspective. Some supervisors are formal and task-oriented, while others are less formal and open-ended.
Of course, supervisors are also different in regards to availability, and approaching a supervisor can be fairly anxiety provoking. After all, supervisors play a key role in your evaluations and overall success in graduate school. Here are a few things to consider in making the most out of your supervisory experience with any type of supervisor.