Although one of Stekel’s books is entitled Technique of Analytical Psychotherapy he did not precisely outline his technique, and one must cull from his descriptions what one can. Many analysts have said that it was Stekel’s personality that most accounted for his approach and treatment successes. He had an enormous intuitive ability that was acknowledged and admired by his colleagues. His interpretation of dream symbolism was applauded by Freud. In fact, many aspects of
His approach has been likened to those of Sandor Ferenczi,who has received much greater respect and recognition?
Stekel believed in focusing on the problem presented, treatingSymptoms as targets for intervention, heightening emotional
Tension through confrontation (hence, increasing insight), and the use
Of reality situations involving graduated exposure until cure.
(These techniques are similar to such contemporary approaches as
Sensate focus, systematic desensitization,Progressive relaxation and focusing.)
In order to evaluate the patient’s ability to cooperate in achieving
his own health, Stekel had a trial week with new patients during which time he evaluated their ability to withstand an attack on their defensive structure and to judge the degree of their resistance. He felt that not everyone was a candidate for psychoanalysis. Undoubtedly,
this technique accounts for his high rate of reported successes.
Stekel preferred six sessions a week for three to four months, believing this to be the best way to combat resistances. Stekel seems to have invented short-term psychotherapy as we know it today. His main technical contributions were dream analysis with no patient associations and theuse of his intuitive, direct, and suitable provocation of the patient’s defences.
He claimed he would never intervene actively until he was sure of the case.After thirty years of treating patients, Stekel came to disbelieve in the unconscious as Freud described it. Rather, he believed that patients suffered from simulated mental blindness and mental deafness that served to obscure their sense of reality, and that the analyst, working as an intuitive artist endowed with imaginative insight, would actively force the willing patient to confront his conscious mental blind spots (Stekel, 1950).
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