Psychodynamic therapy is a form of psychotherapy based on Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory. Its goal is to help you understand more deeply the thoughts, feelings, and unconscious conflicts that are the source of emotional and behavioral problems. Psychoanalytic theory has been developed over the years by numerous therapists and has evolved in various forms.
Techniques of psychodynamic therapy include:
Exploration of the unconscious: Many of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by unconscious processes. Through free association (expressing thoughts freely without censorship) and interpretation, therapists help patients explore and make sense of these hidden aspects of the mind.
Focus on the therapeutic relationship: The relationship between the therapist and the client is considered crucial in psychodynamic therapy. The therapist provides a safe and non-judgmental space for the patient to express emotions, thoughts, conflicts, and observe patterns of relating.
Self-understanding and awareness: Psychodynamic therapy aims to help clients gain an understanding of unresolved conflicts, childhood experiences, and how these can affect their current lives. This increased self-awareness leads to maturity and the acquisition of healthy coping strategies.
Transfer and countertransference: Transfer occurs when clients project their feelings and attitudes onto the therapist, often reflecting past relationships. Countertransference refers to the therapist’s emotional reactions to the patient. Both phenomena are explored and used to better understand the patient’s inner world.
Dream analysis: Psychoanalysis places significant importance on analyzing dreams as a means of accessing unconscious material.
Exploration of defense mechanisms: Psychodynamic therapy often involves identifying and understanding the defense mechanisms individuals use to protect themselves from difficult thoughts and feelings. By recognizing these mechanisms, clients can work on healthier coping strategies, evolving from avoidance or denial to accepting reality.
Long-term treatment: Psychodynamic therapy is typically longer compared to other forms of therapy. It often involves weekly sessions over an extended period, allowing for a deep exploration of underlying issues.
It’s important to note that while psychodynamic therapy has a rich history and has significantly contributed to the field of psychology, it has developed and integrated with other therapeutic approaches over time. Many modern psychodynamic therapists may incorporate techniques and ideas from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other proven-effective methods to create an integrative approach tailored to the client’s needs.