Psychodynamic Therapy: Definition, Characteristics, Types, Advantages And More.

The psychodynamic therapy is a form of depth psychology, whose main objective is to reveal the unconscious content of the psyche of a client in an effort to alleviate psychic tension. In this way, it is similar to Freud’s psychoanalysis which also relies more on the interpersonal relationship between client and therapist than on other forms of deep psychology. In terms of focus, this form of therapy uses psychoanalysis adapted to a less intensive work style, usually at a frequency of once or twice a week.

The main theorists used are Freud, Klein, and the object relations movement theorists Winnicott, Guntrip, and Bion. Some psychodynamic therapists also turn to Jung or Lacan.

It is an approach that has been used in psychotherapy Individual, group therapy, family therapy and to understand and work with institutional and organizational contexts. In psychiatry, it is considered a treatment of choice for adjustment disorders, as well as for post- traumatic stress disorder, but more for personality- related disorders . In its brief form, a psychodynamic approach allows the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest in the need and desire to abuse substances.

History of psychodynamic therapy

The theory that supports psychodynamic therapy originated and is based on psychoanalytic theory, in which there are four main schools that have influenced psychodynamic therapy. The four schools are: Freudian psychology, ego psychology, object relationship psychology, and the psychology of the self.

The Freudian psychology is based on the theories formulated first by Sigmund Freud and sometimes is called structural unit or model. The essence of Freud’s theory is that the sexual and aggressive energies originating from the id (or unconscious) are modulated by the ego, which is a set of functions that is moderated between the id and external reality. Defense mechanisms are ego constructions that operate to minimize pain and maintain psychic balance, the superego, formed during latency (between 5 years and puberty), operates to control identification impulses through guilt.

The psychology of the ego derives from Freudian psychology, its advocates focus their work on improving and maintaining the function of the ego in accordance with the demands of reality and emphasizes the ability of the individual to the defense evidence, adaptation and reality.

The psychology of object relations was first articulated by several British analysts, including Melanie Klein , WRD Fairbairn, DW Winnicott, and Harry Guntrip. According to this theory, human beings are always formed in relation to the significant others around them, our struggles and goals in life are focused on maintaining relationships with others, at the same time that we differentiate ourselves from them. Internal representations of oneself and others acquired in childhood are played out later in adult relationships.

The psychology of the self was founded by Heinz Kohut, MD, in Chicago during the 1950s where he observed that the self refers to the perception that a person has of his experience of himself, including the presence or lack of a sense In self-esteem, the self is perceived in relation to the setting of limits and the differentiations of the self from others (or the lack of limits and differentiations).

Each of the four schools of psychoanalytic theory presents discrete theories of personality formation, psychopathology formation and change, techniques for conducting therapy, and indications and contraindications for therapy. Psychodynamic therapy differs from psychoanalysis in several details, including the fact that psychodynamic therapy does not need to include all analytic techniques and is not performed by psychoanalytically trained analysts, it is also carried out for a shorter period of time and less frequently. than psychoanalysis.

Basic principles and characteristics

In psychodynamic therapy, therapists help people review emotions , thoughts, early life experiences, and beliefs to better understand their current lives and problems and to assess the patterns that have developed over time. . Recognizing recurring patterns can help people see how they avoid distress or develop coping mechanisms so that they can take action to change those patterns.

The therapeutic relationship is central to psychodynamic therapy as it can demonstrate how a person interacts with their friends and loved ones.

Although psychodynamic psychotherapy can take many forms, common features include:

  • An emphasis on the centrality of intrapsychic and unconscious conflicts, and their relationship to development.
  • Identify the defenses as developed in the internal psychic structures to avoid the unpleasant consequences of the conflict.
  • A belief that psychopathology develops especially from early childhood experiences.
  • A view that internal representations of experiences are organized around interpersonal relationships.
  • A conviction that life issues and dynamics will re-emerge in the context of the client-therapist relationship as transference and countertransference.
  • Use of free association as the main method for exploring internal conflicts and problems.
  • Focusing on the interpretations of transference, defense mechanisms and current symptoms and the elaboration of these current problems.
  • Confidence in vision is critically important to success in therapy.

Goals of psychodynamic therapy

The main objectives are

  • Improve customer self-awareness.
  • Encourage an understanding of the client’s thoughts , feelings, and beliefs in relation to their past experiences, especially their experiences as a child. This is accomplished by the therapist who guides the client through the examination of unresolved conflicts and significant events in the client’s past.

The assumption in psychodynamic therapy is that chronic problems are ingrained in the unconscious mind and must be brought to light for catharsis to occur. Therefore, the client must have the self-awareness to discover these unconscious thought patterns and an understanding of how these patterns came to be in order to deal with them.

What is psychodynamic therapy used for?

Your doctor may recommend psychodynamic therapy if you have depression , it is used to treat some other mental health conditions and situations as well. It can help you manage:

Your doctor may encourage you to combine psychodynamic therapy with medications or other treatments.

What does psychodynamic therapy involve?

Your therapist will try to help you understand how past events are affecting your physical and mental health today. Advocates believe that people feel and act the way they do for specific reasons; their past experiences shape the way they act and see the world. Your therapist will help you explore these experiences, as well as develop coping techniques so that you can respond to challenging situations in more positive and effective ways.

You will likely meet with your therapist several times a week for several months, and in some cases, for several years. Your therapist may request more frequent meetings, each session will typically last 45 to 50 minutes.

They will try to establish a supportive environment in which they feel comfortable talking about their experiences, they will likely allow you to speak freely during the sessions. They may occasionally interrupt to ask questions or redirect the discussion. They usually do not share their opinions on what you say, this neutrality can help strengthen your therapeutic relationship.

You can communicate with your therapist on multiple levels, sometimes indirectly. For example, they can examine your dreams and fantasies and help you discover their meaning. Some people hide or are unaware of traumatic experiences.

how does it make you feel?

This question is probably familiar to you, it is the most used to indicate or refer to therapy, it is also the hallmark of psychodynamic therapy.

Ironically, this phrase that immediately recalls the practice of therapy is the hallmark of a type of therapy that is much less common these days. Currently, the most popular types of therapy are cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and other more modern forms of therapy. While psychodynamic therapy is still applied in many situations, its popularity has lagged behind these other types of therapy in recent decades.

No matter how popular or persistent this therapy is, it remains the most recognizable form to those inexperienced in the theory and application of therapy, and it remains a goal worth understanding the fundamentals of psychodynamic therapy.

Advantages of psychodynamic therapy

There are many potential benefits to you, including:

  • Lasting positive change.
  • Significant achievements in self-awareness and self-understanding.
  • Decreased use of defense mechanisms.
  • Improved relationships.
  • Healing from past trauma.
  • Reduction of worrisome symptoms.
  • Improved mood.
  • Less anxiety
  • Improved decision making .
  • Greater satisfaction with life.
  • Less internal conflict.
  • Decreased emotional reactivity.
  • Greater ability to handle stressful situations effectively.
  • Greater tolerance for negative emotions.
  • Increased self-confidence.
  • Improved ability to handle anger.
  • A sense of inner peace.
  • Improved self-control.
  • Greater general feeling of well-being.
  • Decreased risk of relapse for those in recovery.
  • Greater ability to meet needs in a healthy way.
  • Less self sabotage.

Disadvantages of psychodynamic therapy

Although psychodynamic therapy can produce positive results in a relatively short period of time, it is generally a long-term therapy. Sometimes this makes it a less desirable form of treatment for people who prefer not to spend many months, or in many cases at least a year, two, or even more in therapy.

Due to the often longer-term nature of this approach, psychodynamic therapy may not be a good option for someone who lacks the financial resources to cover lengthy treatment.

The lack of structure can be frustrating for some people, particularly those who prefer a more structured and “step-by-step” form of treatment.

Some people have a hard time accepting the premise that unconscious factors play a role in the problems they are experiencing.

Psychodynamic therapists are generally less directive when working with clients. This can be frustrating for people who prefer a more direct “active” therapist. It is not uncommon for these people to leave treatment prematurely.

Rather quick or immediate results are expected from therapy that often become impatient with a psychodynamic approach, they tend to assume that the therapy is not working, even though it actually is, but not at a fast enough rate.

Some people are uncomfortable with the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship itself, which is a key component in psychodynamic therapy.

Types of psychodynamic therapy

I have generally referred to psychodynamic therapy as a singular entity, this makes discussing the term easier, but truly psychodynamic therapy is more of a category of therapies than a single type.

Brief psychodynamic therapy

This type of therapy is usually carried out over the course of just a few sessions, or even just one session in some cases. Sometimes a person struggling with a specific problem just needs to make a few important connections to overcome that problem. For example, if a client suffers from acute anxiety without a known source, identifying an event or circumstance that led to this anxiety and a coping strategy can be accomplished in a single session.

While one session problem solving should not be expected for everyone seeking treatment, there are several instances where identifying and treating a specific problem can be a relatively short investment.

It has been applied in situations such as:

  • Accident (traffic, physical injury, etc.)
  • Act of terrorism.
  • Acute psychological disturbances (such as anxiety or depression.)
  • Traumatic family event (discovery of a secret, divorce, etc.) Learn more about brief psychodynamic therapy. (Required item)

Psychodynamic family therapy

This form of psychodynamic therapy is practiced in the context of a family, whether it is made up of two adults in a romantic relationship, parent and child (ren), siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, a traditional nuclear family, or any combination of these members. of the family. This therapy is usually relatively long-term and is often instigated by chronic problems within the family nucleus.

Like other psychodynamic therapies, this form focuses on unconscious processes and unresolved conflicts, but sees them in the context of family relationships. The therapist will guide family members through an exploration of family history, especially any traumatic family event.

This form of therapy emphasizes the importance of adult family members resolving any conflicts with their own parents as a way to better understand conflicts with their partner (s) and child (ren).

Family psychodynamic therapy can help families discover and address the deep issues that create family problems, leading to healthier and happier family dynamics. Read more about psychodynamic family therapy. (Required item)

Psychodynamic art / Music therapy

This non-traditional form of psychodynamic therapy involves the expression of feelings and emotions through art or music. Like other types, this therapy is non-directive and unstructured, allowing the client to direct the session, it does not require any artistic or musical talent or ability, only that clients can use music or art to express themselves.

Clients can display specific pieces and talk about the emotions they evoke, connect them to childhood events, or discuss the meaning they find in these pieces, or they can bring a specific song or album that they feel they can relate to in a deep level.

Alternatively, they can create art or music in the session, it doesn’t have to be “good” art or music, it just needs to convey the thoughts or feelings of the clients in a way that makes sense to them. Through art and / or music, the therapist and client can build an understanding and form an important bond, they may find that art and music are better methods of deep communication than talking.

This type of therapy may be particularly suitable for those who are shy or find it difficult to speak, as well as those who experience paralyzing anxiety or fear that music or art may calm them down.

Complete content of psychodynamic art. (Required item)

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.