Psychoanalysis is a theoretical and practice discipline that has produced an extensive body of literature over the past 100 years. Psychodynamic psychotherapy developed from psychoanalytic thought and has been studied using both qualitative and quantitative methods including experimental studies, content analyses and case studies. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the relevance of psychodynamic theories to social work and to review evidence that supports psychodynamic social work practice. We first provide a brief introduction to several relevant psychodynamic theories, including self psychology, intersubjectivity theory and relational theory. Next, we discuss the debates and controversies surrounding the study of psychodynamic psychotherapy. A review of existing evidence for psychodynamic practice with adults, children and adolescents is presented, including systematic reviews and meta-analyses, literature reviews and other research. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of further research on psychodynamic and other forms of social work practice and the benefit of promoting psychodynamic theories in social work education.

Additional Metadata
Keywords empirical support, intersubjectivity, psychodynamic psychotherapy, relational psychoanalytic therapy, self psychology, social work
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/02650533.2013.818944
Journal Journal of Social Work Practice
Citation
Mishna, F. (Faye), Van Wert, M. (Melissa), & Asakura, K. (2013). The Best Kept Secret in Social Work: Empirical Support for Contemporary Psychodynamic Social Work Practice. Journal of Social Work Practice, 27(3), 289–303. doi:10.1080/02650533.2013.818944