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Working through childhood trauma-related interpersonal patterns in psychodynamic treatment: An evidence-based case study.

Authors
  • Van Nieuwenhove, Kimberly1
  • Truijens, Femke1
  • Meganck, Reitske1
  • Cornelis, Shana1
  • Desmet, Mattias1
  • 1 Department of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Consulting.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Psychological Trauma Theory Research Practice and Policy
Publisher
American Psychological Association
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
Volume
12
Issue
1
Pages
64–74
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1037/tra0000438
PMID: 30714790
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Adult interpersonal difficulties are considered 1 of the core consequences of childhood trauma exposure. However, research concerning the nature of interpersonal patterns associated with childhood trauma is scarce. The aim of this case study of a supportive-expressive psychodynamic therapy with a woman with a traumatic background, is to provide a detailed understanding of the nature of interpersonal patterns at the beginning and throughout therapy, and to provide an in-depth investigation of the therapeutic process. The Core Conflictual Relationship Theme method (Luborsky & Crits-Christoph, 1998) and the Penn Adherence/Competence Scale for Supportive Expressive Dynamic Psychotherapy (Barber & Critis-Christoph, 1996) were applied to study dominant interpersonal patterns and therapeutic interventions, respectively. At the beginning of therapy, the patient was unable to safely express herself because others were perceived as critical and rejecting. This relationship pattern originated in her primary (traumatic) childhood relationships and was repeated in her adult relationships. As treatment progresses, the patient aspired more proactively to assert herself and felt more self-confident in interactions, although she consistently perceived the reactions of others in a negative way. The neutral, acknowledging and empowering attitude of the therapist created a new relational experience, through which change (on the interpersonal level) appears to be achieved. We conclude that to adequately address interpersonal difficulties in therapy, it is fundamental to recognize dominant interpersonal patterns and to apprehend their dynamics within the broader context of the case. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

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