Psychodynamic psychotherapy is an insight-oriented therapy that aims to explore unconscious aspects of ourselves, which are thought to influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This type of therapy aims to bring unconscious conflicts into our present experience, so they can be understood, processed and resolved, thus reducing mental health symptoms. Psychodynamic therapy uses dream analysis to understand internal conflicts that cause psychic pain.
In 1900 Freud published his infamous text The Interpretation of Dreams, where he claimed that interpreting dream material was the “royal road” to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind. One hundred and twenty years on, psychotherapists still use dream material to gain a deeper understanding of their patient’s unconscious desires and fears, their painful internal conflicts. According to psychoanalytic theory, these internal conflicts lead to psychic pain and result in symptoms such as panic attacks, excessive worry, depression, insomnia, or compulsive behaviours to name a few. The symptom is actually our mind’s way of managing the underlying conflict and avoiding the feelings associated with it. Looking at dreams in therapy can help in developing a deeper understanding of these aspects of the self.
Psychodynamic therapists are trained to look at dream material and make use of it in sessions. Bringing a dream to therapy can make for a rich and revealing experience. When we sit on the couch and engage in a therapy session, there are many unconscious processes or defences that prevent us from getting in touch with our inner most feelings, fears, wounds and desires, preventing us from truly knowing ourselves. It is our psychological defences that get in the way of us understanding why we repeat certain behaviours over and over again even though consciously we do not want to. These defences include suppression, denial, projection, displacement (moving feelings that are associated with one person/object onto another). The beauty of a dream is that it provides a direct line to our deepest emotional experiences without being obscured by defences. Sometimes the content of a dream can be so powerful it provides instant insight that may have taken many months of therapy to come to otherwise.
If you are seeking psychotherapy and looking for a richer and more in-depth way of working, you might consider seeing a psychologist or psychotherapist trained in a Psychodynamic approach. For more information have a look at the Mindwell Psychology website. We are a boutique practice in Geelong who specialise in this approach and you can book a session today.