Psychodynamic Theory and Family Counseling

Topic: Family Psychology
Words: 856 Pages: 3

Psychodynamic theories concern the psychological impulses and forces inside people and explain human behavior and personality. These theories largely concern the unconscious motivations that underlie a person’s personality and conduct. Childhood trauma, especially psychological distress is crucial in forming an individual’s personality, conduct, and psychological thinking in later life (Fulmer, 2018). A psychodynamic method is a unique approach to dynamic family factors that aid in the transparency of communications among family members. The approach looks at underlying defensive mechanisms and how they shape family relationships. Psychodynamic methods of family therapy have been criticized for having a strong historical emphasis, with the worry being that families may focus more on their past rather than current problems.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Only Focusing on a Historical Approach

Psychodynamic therapy is a “global therapy,” or form of therapy with a holistic focus on the perspective of the client. According to Fulmer (2018), a crucial component of psychodynamic family therapy is its emphasis on the unconscious power to influence behavior in people. This approach to psychodynamic family therapy can help family members become more aware of their conduct and that of others, such as hidden allegiances to their parents, which may result in a tighter bond between them or their alienation. The psychodynamic approach examines fundamental defensive mechanisms and how it impacts family interactions. This has a varied impact on writings about family dynamics and fosters positive relationships amongst family members. The emphasis that psychodynamic family therapy places on the historical causes of dysfunctions and why the past impacts people and families is another characteristic of this approach (Fulmer, 2018). A psychodynamic therapist working with a family or a single member goes to the root of problems in the past. Counselors educate families on how to address challenging difficulties after discovering the family history by investigating how the family behaved through difficult times.


The problem with focusing on a single historical method is that finding reliable data on prior family relationships might be challenging. This might make it difficult to make informed judgments about how to handle current family dynamics. Furthermore, a historical perspective might make determining the significance of specific events difficult. The psychodynamic method can be applied to an individual rather than a family. Furthermore, this method is hazardous to customers with a communal identity, such as Arab Muslims, because exposure to concealed difficulties may lead to a huge family feud (Fulmer, 2018). Historical therapy takes time and may be too expensive for many families to achieve peace. Finally, Individuals with above-average intellectual abilities are often required for psychodynamic treatment.

Murray Bowen’s Response to This Criticism

Psychodynamic methods are founded on the premise that people’s history influences their conduct, which may be investigated using psychological autopsy procedures. This enables the investigation of how certain aspects of the individual’s history may have resulted in specific behaviors or issues in the present. According to Bowen’s family theory, it’s critical to consider past behaviors to avoid repeating them in current relationships. Since digging into the past may be difficult, Bowen’s family theory has come under fire, similar to the psychodynamic approach to family counseling. However, Bowen responds to the criticism by stating that if the past is not resolved, it will continue to affect the present and future generations. Doing so is essential for the family to end the cycle and enhance communication.

The Value of Genograms in Therapeutic Work

A genogram is a visual representation of a person’s family tree made out of geometric forms, text, and images, much like a family tree with memories of deceased relatives. The physicality and non-threatening process of creating a genogram enable family doctors to get much data quickly, while also fostering trust among the family, which is one of the tool’s advantages (Fulmer, 2018). This method promotes the transition from an emotional response to rational cognition. The genealogical quest may repair broken ties by studying a common ancestor’s history. Additionally, genograms can take on a multicultural bent and include calculations of worldview and cultural elements that influence how family members behave. However, it should be noted that the use of genograms in family therapy can be challenging since family members may see their ties quite differently.

Personal Reflection

Learning about the psychodynamic method was incredibly interesting to me. I believe that a family may change if they go back and adopt a new way of doing things in their family, even when they have a history of negative behavior s like violence or poor communication. We discuss our ancestors’ previous actions and behaviors in my family of origin. My mother frequently gives her children characteristics from our distant ancestors. We like discussing the lives of our relatives and both happy and unhappy circumstances. Finding out how fundamental defensive mechanisms affect our relationships as a family would benefit my family. The psychodynamic method may be able to alter the dynamics of the family by requiring us to learn how to communicate openly with one another. I believe that my family would make a strong effort to choose a good course in the future if they believed that doing so would make us happier.


Fulmer, R. (2018). The evolution of the psychodynamic approach and system. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 10(3), 1-5. Web.

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