Psychodynamic Emotional Regulation in View of Wolpe's Desensitization Model

Am J Psychol. 2016 Spring;129(1):65-79. doi: 10.5406/amerjpsyc.129.1.0065.


The current research belongs to the stream of theoretical integration and establishes a theoretical platform for integrative psychotherapy in anxiety disorders. Qualitative metasynthesis procedures were applied to 40 peer-reviewed psychoanalytic articles involving emotional regulation. The concept of psychodynamic emotional regulation was found to be connected with the categories of desensitization, gradual exposure, containment, and transference. This article presents a model according to which psychoanalytic psychotherapy allows anxiety to be tolerated while following the core principles of systematic desensitization. It is shown that despite the antiresearch image of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, its foundations obey evidence-based principles. The findings imply that anxiety tolerance might be a key goal in which the cumulative wisdom of the different therapies can be used to optimize psychotherapy outcomes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Desensitization, Psychologic / methods*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic / methods*
  • Self-Control / psychology*