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DSST Fundamentals of counseling

Defense mechanisms are normal and by themselves do

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Defense mechanisms are normal and by themselves do not represent neurotic behavior. They operate at the unconscious level so people are largely unaware that their perceptions are really a distorted form of reality. Repression is the ego defense mechanism that involuntarily removes something from a person’s consciousness. When a thought, feeling, or emotion is too painful for the person to rationally handle, the ego suppresses the threatening idea. The ego seeks to maintain control and if a particular notion threatens to upset the balance then it moves in and does whatever is necessary to maintain control. Most memories within the first 5 years of life are considered to be repressed but these events have a significant influence on the growth and development of a human being. Denial is the preconscious or conscious manifestation of repression . Denial is the simplest of defense mechanisms and most people are aware when they are denying reality. It is the act of
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blinding oneself to what is really happening and living in a world that is “better” and easier to deal with. Denial is common in traumatic situations. There are many other ego defense mechanisms (rationalization, regression, sublimation to name a few) and they all operate in such a way as to allow the ego to maintain control over the body and its perception or reality. In psychodynamic therapy the counselor maintains a neutral stance and encourages a transference relationship. Transference is the act of a client projecting reactions onto the counselor in the same way the client would react to a person who played a significant role in their personal life – usually a father or mother. The counselor then analyzes the reactions and gains insight into the client’s thought patterns by “playing the role” of this significant person. For this reason the relationship between a client and counselor is central to psychodynamic therapy and a great deal of time is spent nurturing this relationship. Transference, in psychoanalysis, is the situation in which the patient comes to feel about the analyst in the same way he or she once felt about some other important person in his/her life. Using a phenomenological approach, the counselor attempts to understand the client’s subjective reality. Phenomenological orientation requires a counselor to pay attention to how their client views and perceives the world. By understanding this “subjective reality” the counselor can then begin to understand what motivates behavior and help the person make decisions that are more in-line with the client’s ultimate goals. As a student under Sigmund Freud for many years, Erikson expanded upon Freud’s psychoanalytic ideas, and developed his own views on human development as a progression through eight psychosocial stages.
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