John Mcleod, author of An Introduction to Counselling, has identified five key principles of the psychodynamic approach:

  1. People have troubled relationships because they are repeating a destructive relationship pattern from the past.
  2. The person may seek to control or hide difficult or unacceptable mental desires, memories and feelings by use of ‘defence mechanisms’, such as “transference”, “projection”, “denial”, “repression”, “sublimation”, “splitting” and “projective identification”.
  3. It is important for helpers, including counsellors, to be aware of their own feelings, fantasies and impulses in relation to the person they are helping.
  4. The person’s problems can be understood as representing unresolved “developmental tasks” (e.g. separation from the mother/parents).
  5. People have a need for secure, consistent emotional attachments.

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