Skip to content
Member Login

106 Introduction to Psychoanalytic Technique Part I – 5 seminars

Seminar Leaders: J. Fernando and C. Melchiorre

Course Description

Through a study of Freud’s classic papers on technique, and some later papers, we will understand the origins of the psychoanalytic theory of psychotherapeutic technique, a basic technique which was the first talking cure, and the basis, at least in some of its elements, for all later forms of psychotherapy. We will look at the origins of these ideas, and at later, modern, discussions of them.

The goal of this course is to acquaint the student with the basics of psychoanalytic therapeutic technique, integrating the theory of psychoanalysis with its practice (1.2), and thus learning to work within the psychoanalytic framework (1.2) based upon established psychoanalytic theory.

The readings will serve as a starting point for our discussions of such critical topics as transference, free association, free floating attention and the safe and effective use of the self (4.3) in dealing with the patient and understanding the patient’s communications, and formulating interventions.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course of five seminars, candidates will be able to:

  1. Explain the basic concepts of psychoanalytic technique, including free association, listening with evenly hovering attention, resistance, interpretation, and transference resistance. (1.4)
  2. Recognize these basic phenomena as they present themselves in a clinical situation. (1.4)
  3. Utilize these conceptualizations related to technique in relation to concrete clinical situations, and thus be able to work within the basis of established psychoanalytic theory. (1.2, 1.4)

Seminar 1

The basic analytic attitude and fundamental rule

In seminars 1 and 2, we look at Freud’s description of the basic aspects of analytic technique, including the fundamental rule (of saying whatever comes to mind) and free association, evenly hovering attention on the therapist’s part, and abstinence and neutrality, as they were originally conceived. We will be looking at orienting the patient to the therapist’s practice (4.1), and more specifically establishing and maintaining the core conditions for therapy: establishing rapport with the patient, respect for their autonomy, explaining the therapeutic tools (free association, interpretation) that will be used and the theory in ways that make sense to the patient, using empathy and evenly hovering attention to understand the patient’s communications through careful and unbiased observation of the patient and the therapist’s own responses, and maintaining boundaries appropriately, with the patient and with respect to their demands (abstinence and neutrality). (4.2).

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1911). The handling of dream interpretation in psychoanalysis. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 12, 89–96.

Freud, S. (1912). Recommendations to physicians practicing psychoanalysis. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol.12, 109–120.

Freud, S. (1913). On beginning the treatment (further recommendations on the technique of psychoanalysis 1). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 12, 121–144.

Seminar 2

The basic analytic attitude – some issues

Required Readings

Lipton, S. D. (1977). The advantages of Freud’s technique as shown in his analysis of the Rat Man. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 58, 255–273.

Seminar 3

The transference

In this seminar we will look at this most fundamental of psychoanalytic ideas, of the emotional reliving of the past in the present. Being able to recognize and work with the transference is the basis for the therapist’s safe and effective use of the self, as it involves understanding the effect of the therapist on the patient, recognizing the impact of power dynamics, and protecting the patient from imposition of the therapist’s personal issues so that their own reactions can unfold in a containing and safe environment (4.3), and we will also begin the discussion, reinforced in later lectures and in supervised clinical work, of how to intervene appropriately to help analyze the transference, with well timed interventions and also recognizing the significance of both action and inaction, employing a number of helping strategies to help the patient to explore a range of emotions (4.5).

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1912). The dynamics of transference. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 12, 97–108.

Freud, S. (1915). Observations on transference love (further recommendations on the technique of psychoanalysis III). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 12, 157–171.

Abend, S.M. (2009). Freud, Transference, and therapeutic action. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 78, 871-892.

Seminar 4

The real relationship and alliance

In this seminar we look at the key concepts of the working alliance and the real relationship within the therapy and how to foster and work with them, which involves establishing and maintaining the core conditions for therapy: employing empathy, respect, and authenticity to establish rapport, being sensitive to the patient’s context on the process and of the setting in which the therapy takes place, and assuming a non-judgemental stance (4.2). The issue of working on the alliance with the patient’s realistic self also brings in the issues related to structuring and facilitating the therapeutic process, specifically communicating appropriately to the patient, with an understanding of their developmental level and socio-cultural identity, recognizing them as a real person, and thus responding to their strengths, vulnerabilities, resiliencies and resources, responding non reactively to anger, and responding professionally to overly intense attachment, so that a realistic working relationship can be maintained (4.5).

Required Readings

Greenson, R. R. (1965). The working alliance and the transference neurosis. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 34, 155–181.

Greenson, R. R. & Wexler, M. (1969). The nontransference relationship in the psychoanalytic situation. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 50, 27–39.

Chodorow, N.J. (2010). Beyond the dyad: Individual psychology, social world. Journal of American Psychoanalytic Association, 58, 207-230.

Seminar 5

Working through

In this last seminar we look at a key aspect of psychoanalytic technique, important for deepening and stabilizing change – the concept of working through. The working through is key, and involves the full exploration of repetitive behaviour.   We will learn to support patient exploration of issues and patterns of behaviour and a range of emotions, employing a variety of helping strategies, ensuring timely interventions to fully explore from all angles these factors (4.5).

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1914). Remembering, repeating and working-through (further recommendations on the technique of psycho-analysis II). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 12, 145–156.

Freud, S. (1937). Construction in analysis. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 23, 255–270.

Friedman, L. (2009). Freud’s technique: More from experience than theory. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 78, 913-924.

Dominic Scarfone. (2014). The work of remembering and the revival of the psychoanalytic method. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 95(5), 965-972.

Back To Top