Psychodynamic therapy is an in-depth form of talk therapy, which owes a lot to psychoanalysis, proposed and formulated by Sigmund Freud, based upon his theories and believe about human unconscious. But psychodynamic therapy, unlike psychoanalysis is less focused on the patient-therapist relationship, and it is equally focused on the patient’s relationship with his or her external world. Psychodynamic therapy is usually shorter than that of a psychoanalytic therapy with respect to the frequency and number of sessions. Although there might be deviation in this observation.
What to expect?
The therapist encourages their client to speak about anything that comes to mind, which can include current distressing issues, fears, dreams, desires, and fantasies. The aim of the therapy is not only to experience a remission of symptoms but also derive other benefits like increased self-esteem, better utilization of their own capabilities and talents, and bestow with an increased aptitude for developing and maintaining more satisfying relationships. Sometimes the client might experience ongoing improvements after therapy has ended. The therapy can be both long term or short term depending upon the needs and requirements of the client.
How does it work?
There are certain theories and techniques that distinguish psychodynamic therapy from other types of psychotherapy. This include a focus on recognizing, acknowledging, expressing, understanding, and overcoming negative and contradicting feelings and repressed thoughts and emotions in order to improve the patient’s interpersonal experiences, state of being and relationships. The therapy aims at helping the patient understand their repressed emotions and how those unconscious repression affect current thoughts, decision-making, behavior, and relationships. Psychodynamic therapy also aims to provide assistance to those who are aware of, has an insight and understand the origins of their social difficulties, yet are not able to overcome their problems with their single handed efforts. Clients learn to analyze and resolve their the present distressing issues and change their behavior in current relationships through through exploration and analysis of earlier experiences and emotions.
When is it used?
Psychodynamic therapy is predominantly employed to treat depression, anxiety and other serious psychological disorders, especially addressing those who have lost meaning in their lives and are meeting difficulty in forming or maintaining personal relationships. Studies have revealed several effective applications of psychodynamic therapy including successful application against addiction, social anxiety disorder, eating disorders, etc.
Role of a Psychodynamic Therapist:
A psychodynamic therapist believe patients identified the therapist with significant personages who belongs to their past, which is usually their parents or significant others, and that this is the identification that motivates the transfer over to the therapist of attitudes which is similar to those that they originally had toward their parents. Apart from this, the client’s relationship with external world is also given equal importance.
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Khantzian, E.J. Reflections on treating addictive disorders: a psychodynamic perspective. American Journal on Addictions. May-June 2012;21:274–279.
Driessen, E., Van, H.L., Don, F.J., et al. The efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy in the outpatient treatment of major depression: a randomized clinical trial. American Journal of Psychiatry. September 2013;170(9):1041–1050.
Stefini, A., Salzer, S., Reich, G., et al. Cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic therapy in female adolescents with bulimia nervosa: A randomized controlled trial. Published online February 10, 2017.