What is Psychodynamic Therapy and how can it help you?

Psychodynamic Therapy is an approach used to treat mental health conditions. Rooted in the traditions of psychoanalysis that was founded by Sigmund Freud, the approach has evolved over more than a century of research and practice. As a result of its historical origins, psychodynamic therapy is often misunderstood by the public and represented in an archaic way through pop culture.  Psychodynamic therapy is in fact highly effective as a treatment, and many therapists draw on its principles no matter what treatment approach they predominantly use.

Psychodynamic therapy is an “insight-oriented” approach, aimed at helping people get in touch with and understand all aspects of their internal experience, both conscious and unconscious. In contrast, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a problem-focused approach that deals more with conscious thoughts and feelings. However, we know that unconscious processes such as deep-seated needs, desires, emotions, drives and conflicts are constantly influencing our thoughts, feelings, decisions, and actions in a very real way. Having a deeper awareness of these different parts of ourselves can lead to increased self-awareness, increased agency and productivity, greater authenticity, more satisfying relationships, and relief from psychological symptoms. In psychodynamic therapy we are looking at the different pieces of the puzzle that make up who we are and why we think, feel and act the way we do. While CBT looks directly at symptoms and how to reduce them, psychodynamic therapy looks at the underlying conflicts within us that create symptoms, and therefore addresses things in a more holistic and in-depth way.

What makes therapy psychodynamic is the use of the therapeutic relationship (or “transference” and “countertransference”) to explore aspects of the self that are not fully known, and understanding how people’s early childhood experiences and relationships shape their adult lives. The sessions are typically 50 minutes in duration and are open-ended, guided by free association or exploring what emerges in the session without being restricted by a preconceived agenda. Psychodynamic therapists usually sit opposite their patients and are active participants in the session, rather than traditional psychoanalysis, which involves the client lying on the couch while the therapist sits out of sight.

Psychodynamic therapy is an effective treatment for many mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, trauma, interpersonal or relationship issues, and personality disorders. If you live in Geelong and are interested to learn more about this approach or make an appointment to see a psychodynamic therapist, please call Mindwell Psychology.