OPD an Introduction

The Operationalized Psychodynamic Diagnosis (OPD)

The Operationalized Psychodynamic Diagnosis (OPD) was developed in the 1990s by a group of psychoanalytic researchers and clinicians and is a multiaxial psychodynamic diagnostic system that has become a widely accepted standard in psychodynamic diagnosis for clinicians and researchers. In addition to the OPD for adults and other supplementary writings (e.g., OPD and addiction disorders), there was also developed an OPD for children and adolescents, the OPD-KJ (see: WWW: OPD-KJ). The OPD is available in many translations, such as English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Turkish and others. Its clear operationalization, supplemented by case examples and working materials, reliably captures essential components of psychodynamic models – experience of illness, relationship patterns, intrapsychic conflict, level of structural functioning.

Axis I Experience of Illness and Treatment Preconditions maps central aspects of the illness, such as subjective theories of illness, motivation to change, existing resources and barriers, etc.
Axis II Relationship enables the mapping of dysfunctional habitual relationship patterns with typical distressful reaction patterns, which often provide a first clue for treatment.
Axis III Conflict defines psychodynamic conflicts characterized by fixed patterns of experien­cing and coping. These conflict patterns are usually not or little conscious to the person and they can rarely be overcome by own will effort. Seven conflicts with active and passive processing modes are described.
Axis IV Structure describes basic mental functions/abilities whose impairments are associated with increased vulnerabilities. Availability across structural functions is assessed at four levels of integration (good integrated, moderately integrated, poorly integrated, disintegrated). There are important therapeutic implications associated with this assessment.  

In the OPD-3, which has been available since February 2023, all axes have been formulated more precisely and more dimensionally oriented. The dynamic interaction of the axes – especially of conflict and structure – can now be depicted in a more differentiated way.  

Since the OPD is based on a semi-standardized, clinically oriented interview, it is equally suitable for research and clinical practice and can be used for individual indication, focus determination, and therapy planning. Several empirical studies demonstrate the validity of OPD findings. 

Online materials facilitate the use of the OPD-3 and can be downloaded here.