Psychodynamic therapy (or psychoanalytic therapy) is an approach that I have developed a particular interest in. Psychodynamic therapy is suitable for people experiencing psychological suffering who seek a greater and deeper understanding of themselves.
What is psychodynamic therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy aims to explore unconscious factors that motivate an individuals behavior, contribute to their emotional experiences and influence they way they think about and interpret the world. Psychodynamic therapy examines both the past and the present and explores how early experiences shape individuals current lives. Psychodynamic therapy is a longer-term therapy where a client and therapist meet for regular appointments. This regularity allow the client time and space for frequent exploration and the opportunity to bring into conscious awareness things that were previously unknown. The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to increase insight and reflection resulting in psychological flexibility and a greater understanding of oneself as an individual.
What happens in appointments?
During these appointments the client is encouraged to speak freely identifying whatever thoughts come to mind in the moment, this is called free-associating. Things that arise may include a particular dilemma that you are facing in your life, it may a reaction to something from within the therapy, or something seemingly unrelated. It also includes thoughts about the therapy, therapist, and what is going on between the two of you. The relationship between the therapist and patient is important because often when unconscious processes are at play they get reenacted and repeated in relationships throughout our lives, even with our therapist. As the client free-associates, the therapist’s job is to explore possible patterns, processes and responses with them.
How long does therapy last?
Psychodynamic therapy is an open-ended therapy and some people engage in regular therapy over the course of years. Many patients begin to notice differences from the first few sessions. This may be the result of having shared their story with another person, the experience being heard and understood by another person or increased clarity and insight into their problems. Following this initial relief, people are often left asking more and different types of questions about themselves. When people wish to cease therapy it is important to discuss this with your therapist and explore any unconscious processes. Psychodynamic therapists will always complete an assessment prior to beginning treatment, which gives you and opportunity to get a feel for this type of work before commencing treatment.