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Psychodynamic Thinking and Helping Practice


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Dr Sian Macfie
  • Assessment: a 1000-word piece of self-reflective writing (0%) and 2500-word essay (100%)

Module description

In this module we use weekly readings and mini lectures to teach the basic elements of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic thinking. You will take part in a work discussion seminar in which you will develop your understanding of how to apply the principles and methods of psychodynamic thinking to your life or work, especially helping roles in the caregiving professions.

In the experiential group (an unstructured group that studies its own processes) you will learn about the unconscious dynamics that occur in groups, and in the work groups you will engage in personal and professional development in order to learn skills of personal self-awareness and professional reflective practice.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction to professional reflective practice in work discussion
  • Introduction to group process in experiential group
  • Listening for unconscious communication
  • Anxiety
  • Defences
  • Transference and repetition
  • Countertransference
  • Projection
  • Projective identification

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • describe and evaluate the key theoretical ideas underpinning psychodynamic thinking (e.g. transference, countertransference, projective identification)
  • apply your understanding of the range of psychoanalytic theory and psychosocial perspectives to think critically about helping roles
  • demonstrate a capacity for self-reflection and reflective professional practice
  • demonstrate a capacity for self-awareness, emotional sensibility and the management of anxiety through participation in an experiential group
  • demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics, processes and emerging structures of the ongoing experiential group (as a newly created temporary institution)
  • demonstrate the capacity for self-reflection and understanding of group and social processes in order to understand and articulate your own contribution to the construction and maintenance of your experiential group (e.g. what roles do you take up in the experiential group?)
  • demonstrate an understanding of the basic elements of the professional, organisational and social context of the caring role.