Psychodynamic therapy is inspired by psychoanalytic theory and is one of the oldest types of talk therapy. The therapists practicing this form of counseling are often called psychodynamic therapists. When deciding whether to partake in a session of psychodynamic therapy, it can be beneficial to understand how it works.
Reviewing Psychodynamic Therapy
One method of understanding the role of psychodynamic therapists is learning about psychodynamic theory and psychodynamic therapy in their entirety. The focus of this treatment can revolve around past experiences that may have impacted a client's subconscious thoughts, beliefs, and dreams.
In dealing with these emotional challenges with the support of a psychodynamic therapist, the client may experience a series of benefits. For example, they may improve interpersonal relationships, achieve a healthier emotional state, improve their self-esteem, and meet their treatment goals. Although this process may seem simple, psychodynamic therapy can be complex and involves various techniques.
What Areas Does A Psychodynamic Therapist Target?
A therapist might use various themes in psychodynamic therapy to help clients make changes and meet goals, including the following.
Psychodynamic therapy involves the theory of the unconscious mind, which is part of each person that holds unknown desires, thoughts, beliefs, and painful experiences. Discussing underlying emotions, thoughts, and experiences may be uncomfortable and challenging for clients, so a psychodynamic therapist supports them as they confront these areas.
In this type of treatment, the therapist can help the client identify, name, and understand challenges impacting their daily functioning so they can partake in coping mechanisms to support them. One of the tasks of a psychodynamic therapist involves helping clients understand the adverse impacts associated with repressed emotions, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotional pain. Self-reflection can be one of the first steps in these sessions.
When working with a psychodynamic therapist, the events of your childhood may be discussed. Psychodynamic therapists believe early experiences can impact one's outlook, opinions, decisions, and general thoughts. If you don't remember your childhood, you may work on recovering memories or discussing what you think may have occurred.
Psychodynamic therapists may also reference attachment styles, which are the styles of communication, connection, and support individuals showcase throughout their lives based on how well their psychological and physiological needs were met as infants or children.
Behavioral And Cognitive Patterns
Another recurring theme in psychodynamic psychotherapy is patterns. The patterns an individual experiences in life can showcase the themes they frequently experience as an adult. These patterns may involve interpersonal relationship conflicts, reactions to disappointment, and how they treat themselves. Exploring patterns in current life may help psychodynamic therapists understand an individual's past and the people or situations that taught them the patterns.
What Do Psychodynamic Sessions Look Like?
Clients working with psychodynamic therapists may meet with their specialist for about one hour weekly. Open-ended questions and discussions about thoughts, behaviors, and concerns in the client's conscious mind may occur during sessions in the initial stages for the therapist to understand their goals and what areas may be most beneficial to target long-term.
Clients can develop the ability to take what they are learning from their therapists in sessions and apply it to the real world. However, this process can take weeks, months, or years of working with a psychodynamic therapist. Clients struggling to apply what they learn in sessions can let their therapist know to gain further insight into the process.
The Benefits Of Completing Psychodynamic Therapy
Clients of psychodynamic therapy may experience general life improvements along with a higher quality of self-awareness and an understanding of how past events impact the present. However, it doesn't necessarily mean they won't experience challenges or setbacks. When the goals of psychodynamic therapy are complete, the client may instead feel equipped to manage unexpected or expected challenges.
Having a higher self-awareness may allow clients to make decisions more conducive to their success in their lives. Success can look different for everyone. For some individuals, a higher self-awareness may mean leaving unhealthy relationships. For others, increased levels of self-awareness may manifest in the form of living a healthier lifestyle.
When clients undergoing short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy understand how the past impacts the present and feel their therapist has addressed their concerns, they can start to focus on daily life and feel that an amount of resolution has been achieved. It can also help them connect that the decisions they make in the present will become past decisions the next day and that present changes can benefit the future.
How Long Does Psychodynamic Therapy Take?
Many individuals considering working with a psychodynamic therapist may question how long the process lasts or how many sessions are sufficient for the therapy to be effective. However, treatment length is flexible and can depend on each client. Psychodynamic therapy involves weekly or monthly sessions for weeks, months, or years for many people. It can depend on how long it takes for the client to analyze and study events, behavior, and emotions associated with their past or unconscious mind.
The extent of what lies within the subconscious mind may also determine the timeframe of psychodynamic therapy. Clients with less challenging concerns may be able to meet goals faster than those with complex, deep-seated issues which take time to address. For example, discussing a traumatic event may take longer than discussing a temporary conflict. However, how long the session takes does not indicate whether someone is more or less able to make changes and benefit from therapy.
Various options are available if you are interested in working with a psychodynamic therapist or any mental health specialist. You can consider searching for a provider online, talking to your doctor for a referral, or asking your family and friends for suggestions. You can also consider alternative forms of treatment, such as online psychodynamic therapy.
One study on psychodynamic therapy via the internet found that the practice was especially effective in treating symptoms of depression but could be effective for a wide range of mental health challenges. You can find a therapist specializing in this form of therapy through various online platforms and meet with them from home using phone, video, or live chat sessions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a few frequently asked questions about psychodynamic therapy.
What Is An Example Of A Psychodynamic Therapy Technique?
Free association is one commonly used psychodynamic technique. In free association, a therapist prompts clients with a word or idea, and they may respond with whatever comes to mind. Through this exercise, the therapist might further understand the client's associations with particular subjects, which can help them develop a treatment plan.
What Is The Main Goal Of Psychodynamic Therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy aims to increase a client's self-awareness of their actions and reactions and identify how childhood and past experiences relate to current relationship patterns and behaviors.
What Is The Difference Between CBT And Psychodynamic Therapy?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy addresses present concerns, while psychodynamic therapy approaches mental health from a "global" perspective focused on connecting past experiences and present behavior.
Is There A Difference Between Psychodynamic And Psychoanalytical?
Psychoanalytic theory stems from Sigmund Freud's early research into the "unconscious conscious," or how unconscious mechanisms developed in childhood affect current behaviors and responses. Psychoanalytic therapy centers around Freud's original theories of personality, while psychodynamic therapy uses therapeutic techniques discovered by followers and offshoots of Freud's practice.
Is Psychotherapy The Same As Psychodynamic Therapy?
Psychotherapy is an all-encompassing term that refers to talk therapy, therapy that is centered around verbal communication between a therapist and a patient. Thus, psychodynamic therapy is a type of psychotherapy, but psychotherapy is not a form of psychodynamic therapy.
What Are The Origins Of Psychodynamic Therapy?
The psychodynamic theory emerged from the work of Sigmund Freud and focused on the unconscious mind more than other forms through techniques like dream interpretation. This form of therapy guides psychology today by looking at how the unconscious mind and long-term, deep-seated feelings guide behaviors.
Unlike other types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, this therapy's psychodynamic strategy places less emphasis on current actions and more on the underlying unconscious mind. However, the approach is rooted in traditional psychoanalysis, including self-psychology, object relations therapy, and ego psychology.
What Are The Four Types Of Talk Therapies?
The four main types of talk therapies are cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, humanistic, and integrative. Underneath these four types are subsets of therapy, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and art therapy.
What Are The Strengths Of The Psychodynamic Approach?
Psychodynamic theory takes concepts of nature and nurture into account. This form of therapy acknowledges that childhood experiences, major life events, mental illnesses or disorders, and general life stressors can all affect behavior.
How Successful Is Psychodynamic Therapy?
Modern psychology is an ever-evolving field, and all forms of therapy are constantly being re-evaluated for their effectiveness. Based on modern research, over several sessions, psychodynamic therapy appears to be as effective and beneficial as other psychotherapies.
What do psychodynamic therapists believe?
Who is psychodynamic therapy not good for?
What questions do psychodynamic therapists ask?
What are the three stages in psychodynamic therapy?
Who is a famous psychodynamic psychologist?
Is psychodynamic therapy good for trauma?
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