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Psychodynamic practice and psychosocial perspectives


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor and tutor: Samia Premjee
  • Assessment: a 1000-word self-reflective blog (30%) and 3500-word theory essay (70%), plus 70% attendance requirement

Module description

In this module you will study the wider theoretical and clinical concepts underpinning psychodynamic counselling and psychotherapy. You will be introduced to a range of psychoanalytic ideas and have opportunities to develop your clinical skills through practice exercises on working with unconscious communication, transference, countertransference and defences in helping interactions. You will be invited to reflect on the significance of differences in social identities in counselling from a personal and a clinical perspective. The psychosocial perspective offers a more contemporary viewpoint from which to evaluate how psychodynamic practice can engage with social and cultural factors.

We will consider unconscious processes in groups and organisations through the study of theoretical ideas and via experiential work in groups. Self-awareness and self-reflective capacities in relation to all the module topics will be further developed through continued participation in the reflective groups.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Psychodynamic approaches: Freud - the unconscious and repression; manifestations of the Uncs - somatisation, dreams, slips of the tongue
  • Klein’s positions and primitive defences
  • Psychodynamic: conflict, anxiety and defences (Malan’s triangle of conflict)
  • Transference (Malan’s triangle of persons)
  • Countertransference
  • Relational aspects of psychodynamic approaches
  • Winnicott: the holding environment; true/false self
  • Bion: containment; alpha/beta function; development of thinking
  • Psychodynamic counselling in context; ST approaches DIT; research
  • Difference, diversity and power: age and ability/disability
  • Power, difference and diversity: race, culture and religion in counselling
  • Power, difference and diversity: social class and gender in counselling
  • Group/organisational processes: organisation-in-the-mind, roles and authority
  • Group/organisational processes: anxiety chains; basic assumption groups
  • Loss and endings

Learning objectives

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

  • describe the key features of a psychodynamic approach to counselling and psychotherapy in relation to the theoretical underpinnings
  • evaluate some key research findings on the effectiveness of the psychodynamic approach and its application in different contexts
  • demonstrate the ability to recognise and begin to work with unconscious communication, defences, transference and countertransference processes in helping interactions
  • evaluate the helpfulness of psychosocial and group/organisational perspectives in counselling
  • reflect on the significance of your personal history and social identity in your helping interactions with others.