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J Am Acad Psychoanal. 1989 Fall;17(3):451-62.

Psychoanalytically oriented supportive therapy: literature review and techniques.

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New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, Westchester Division, White Plains 10605.


Although there is increasing interest in supportive psychotherapy, it remains relatively unappreciated, unsystematized, and underrepresented in training programs. Its literature is sparse, and there is no generally accepted list of appropriate interventions. This paper reviews the psychoanalytic literature relevant to supportive psychotherapy. It then offers a list of 15 general and six specific techniques culled from the literature. The former are appropriate for the training of, and use by, nonpsychoanalytically trained clinicians, for example, family physicians. The latter require psychodynamic expertise and make sophisticated supportive psychotherapy and intellectually challenging enterprise for the practicing psychoanalyst or dynamic psychotherapist.

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