Overview: Psychoanalytic Theory Approach

Overview: Psychoanalytic Theory Approach

Overview: Psychoanalytic Theory Approach

The Application of Psychoanalytic Theory to the Case of Ana


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The Application of Psychoanalytic Theory to the Case of Ana

Psychoanalytic Theory Overview

Psychoanalytic Theory, though adapted from its roots to suit modern-day counseling necessities and policies, is a widely used treatment technique. Concepts we commonly see in modern counseling whose roots trace back to Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory are transference, defense mechanisms, and free-association. Transference, in the realm of Psychoanalytic Theory, is the unconscious redirection of feelings regarding an event or person onto an unrelated object or person; in counseling it is common to see transference when the client places feelings regarding something towards their counselor. Defense mechanisms are the ways a client’s mind subconsciously protects the individual from the trauma of an event. Free-association is when a client is asked to relate whatever immediately comes to mind when prompted to recall events, people, or objects which relate to their overall reason for attending counseling (Jacobson, 2013).

Goals and Interventions

The overall goal of the application of Psychoanalytic Theory to counseling is to help the client, in this instance Ana, to discover, understand, and process their unconscious conflicts. As her counselor, one must aid her in understanding the underlying cause of these feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and depression and aiding her in finding a way to overcome these feelings and persevere. One specific intervention of psychoanalysis, the overarching therapy associated with Psychoanalytic Theory, which could aid in the treatment of Ana is dream analysis. Ana’s subconscious may be protecting her from the roots of her hopeless, anxious, and depressed feelings but her dreams may be able to help in revealing the true cause of these feelings. Analyzing dreams could help not only Ana to understand what specific aspects of her life are causing these negative emotions, but also help her counselor to understand what aspects of her life should be focused on to bring her the highest level of understanding and relief from these feelings (Murdock, 2013).

Theory Duration

Psychoanalysis is considered to be a long-term treatment process. The process of psychoanalysis begins with an evaluation during which specific goals for treatment are established. The length of treatment is determined not only by these goals but also the client’s true progress in working towards and achieving these goals. In modern psychoanalytic therapy settings, it is not uncommon for the therapy process to last a year or longer (Schoenewolf, 2014). As a result of the amount of time needed to work through her various goals, the utilization of psychoanalysis would not meet Ana’s insurance restriction. As a result of this, Ana would need to pay out of pocket for a majority of the treatment course which can be very costly.

Counselor’s Role

As a result of Freud’s original beliefs, a counselor is expected to take on the role of a doctor. The counselor is charged with the task of determining what different pieces of information revealed by the client truly mean, and what is significant and insignificant. The counselor must also remain as disconnected in the client-counselor relationship as possible. In the case of Ana, the counselor would be responsible for determining what the information she provides means in relation to her emotions and the underlying causes of these emotions and how to combat them. The counselor would then be responsible for developing and guiding Ana through a plan to alter or eliminate these underlying causes (Murdock, 2013).

Client’s Role

The modern role of the client is also based upon Freud’s doctor-patient model of counseling. In the case of Ana, she is considered to be the patient and her treatment sessions are guided solely by the counselor. Ana is responsible for reporting information, such as her dreams and associations between objects and feelings/emotions, as well as responsible for following the direction of her counselor. Ana would, in theory, need to place a large amount of trust on her counselor and their decisions regarding how to understand and work through her subconscious emotions and beliefs (Murdock, 2013).

Appropriate Populations

It is appropriate to utilize Psychoanalytic Theory with individuals who are seeking one-to-one therapy and who can build a trusting relationship with the counselor. The client must also be psychologically stable enough to handle the high level of emotions which may be uncovered throughout treatment. In the case of Ana, her psychological state would potentially make her an unfit candidate for psychoanalysis due to her high levels of depression and anxiety (American Psychological Association, n.d.).

Social and Cultural Needs

Two social needs of Ana which can be met through psychoanalysis are her need to acquire a new job and coping with the stresses of single-parenthood. Psychoanalysis would help her to understand the underlying causes of her hopelessness and how this may be subconsciously holding her back from attaining a new job. A counselor could aid Ana is handling the stress of single-parenthood while also preventing her in subconsciously resenting her child for any hardships she is experiencing.

Two cultural needs of Ana’s which can be aided through psychoanalysis are adjusting to the stressors of being a first-generation immigrant, and adjusting to the differences between her life in Guatemala and America. Being a first-generation is difficult because you are seeking to uphold your cultural beliefs while not trying to standout in your new country. Psychoanalysis can aid Ana in coping with these issues while also coping with the differences between life in Guatemala and life in America. There are two very different cultures present in each country and Ana may be struggling with cultural expectation in America versus the cultural expectations she grew up with.

Additional Information Regarding Ana’s Case

As her counselor, it is important to understand aspects of Ana’s up-brining, specifically those related to her family life and cultural expectations. Her counselor must also understand important values and aspects relating back to her culture in order to provide ethical and non-biased and non-discriminatory service.

Risks of the Utilization of Psychoanalytic Theory

Common risks of the utilization of Psychoanalytic Theory is the lack of insurance coverage causing unnecessarily high costs for the patients, and recent negative reactions towards the use of Psychoanalytic Theory, specifically from feminist groups. As this theory is based upon Freudian models and beliefs, it is seen to be sexist and discriminatory toward female populations (Murdock, 2013).


American Psychological Association. (n.d.). About psychoanalysis. Retrieved from: .

Jacobson, S. (2013). Sigmund Freud’s main theories in psychoanalysis: A summary. Retrieved from: .

Murdock, N. L. (2013). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy (3rd ed.)New York, NY: Pearson.

Schoenewolf, G. (2014, September 21). How long should psychotherapy last. Retrieved from: . Overview: Psychoanalytic Theory Approach

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