The Psychodynamic Approach To Organizational Behavior In Health Care Settings

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The Psychodynamic Approach to Organizational Behavior in Health Care Settings
Bradley F Sorte
Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Alan Whiteman
HAS 6118-001
April 10, 2014

Of the psychological theories that describe human behavior, psychodynamics has for the most part been relegated to the sidelines when applied in the organizational setting. However, to ignore the complex emotional and dynamic reenactments that occur in the organizational setting, and as such guide organizational behavior, would greatly limit ones understanding of what motivates employees. Looking at psychodynamic principles within both the individual and the organization as a whole can shed light onto subconscious motives that lead to resistance and defensiveness that can contribute to malaise across the organization. To illustrate this process this report will discuss the major principles of psychodynamics in relation to human behavior and apply them to the organizational behavior of Caron Renaissance, a long-term behavioral health and addiction treatment program in Boca Raton, Florida. Unique to the example of Caron Renaissance is the clinical and organizational philosophy that is rooted in psychodynamic theory. The connection provides a real life situation where the theory discussed is being applied in a healthcare setting successfully. Understanding organizational behavior from a psychodynamic perspective requires a basic understanding of some of the psychodynamic tenets of what motivates human behavior. Psychodynamic theorists purport that human behavior is on a large scale driven by unconscious motives. If such motives are responsible for guiding human behavior in the home or family setting it is reasonable that said motives are present in work systems as well. Psychodynamics strives to identify and address the unconscious motives so that the individual interaction with others or the system at large is able to do so in a more socially adaptable way. As a result of the recognition that human behavior is driven by unconscious motives, the utilization of this approach in the assessment and intervention of organizational issues, allows for more in-depth analysis of organizational dynamics then other theories that explore only conscious motives alone (Cilliers & Koortzen, 2000). Franz Cilliers and Peter Koortzen (2000) described several of the key dynamics that must be taken into consideration before approaching the organization that is being assessed: Employees bring unfulfilled needs from their family of origin into the work place, employees bring unresolved conflict into the workplace, and the employee attempts reenact the desired dynamics from their family of origin with coworkers and supervisors resulting in conflict and psychic pain. Looking at these points collectively one can clearly see how subconscious motivations can create issues in the dynamics in the workplace. Looking at the organization as a system the parallels between the work system and the family system are clear. The hierarchical nature of work organizations mirrors, on a general level, the hierarchy of the home with parents as the bosses and children as the employees (Cilliers & Koortzen, 2000). Additionally, competition among employees for validation, credit, and advancement has parallels to the sibling rivalry in the home. Without being aware of their own unconscious motives employees play out these historical dynamics in the workplace and it is essential for managers to be aware that not all behavior is rooted in rational conscious thought. Additional attention must be brought to the process of ego strength and defense mechanisms as understanding the internal struggle for the individual employee will help in understanding behavior within the organization. Psychodynamic theory describes the personality being composed of 3 parts, the id ego, and superego. The id is comprised of the individual’s impulsive and instant gratification seeking needs while