What Is Psychodynamic Therapy And What Are The Benefits?

    What is the first phrase that comes to mind when you think about therapy? Movies portray the same scene of a therapist asking the patient the infamous question “How does that make you feel?” This is also of course one of the questions you will be asked during a psychodynamic therapy session. 

    Did you know that biting your nails, obsessive cleaning, aversion to numbers, and many other behaviors are often related to childhood traumas and events? The father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud said that our behaviors as adults are strictly related to both our childhood and past experiences. 99% of the time we are not sure why we act the way we do. The answer generally lies in our subconscious mind.

    Today, I am going to introduce you to a kind of therapy that will help you identify the thoughts that are happening in the deep corners of your mind and how they can affect your everyday life. This type of therapy is called Psychodynamic Therapy.

    Psychodynamic therapy is a form of psychoanalysis that focuses on making the unconscious process conscious. Evidence shows it has positive effect on treating different mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. It is commonly used to treat both teenagers and young adults. These sessions help the patient solve their conflicts giving them long-term results. Overall psychodynamic therapy can:

    • Increase confidence in personal abilities
    • Improve interpersonal relationships
    • Help patients gradually become better able to  face issues and difficulties
    • Promote a better understanding of self and others
    • Provide the tools to recognize and tolerate a wider range of emotions
    • Continue to provide benefits with regular practice and time

    What Is The Principle Behind Psychodynamic Therapy?

    To have a better comprehension of how this type of therapy works, it is necessary to understand a few basic psychology concepts, the first being the unconscious brain versus the conscious brain. Unconscious brain includes all the processes that happen in our minds automatically, including the deepest thoughts that we don’t have access to, as well as actively repressed memories (like very distant experiences or traumatic events) that our minds had to repress to avoid pain and discomfort.  

    The unconscious can be full of unpleasant and often uncomfortable emotions like fears, anxiety and pain. We can also find here different memories that are embarrassing, hurtful, and shameful. These can determine the way we respond or act towards specific situations and events of life. Utilizing appropriate techniques during a psychodynamic therapy session can bring unconscious thoughts to the conscious mind.

    As for the conscious brain, this is the area where the thoughts we are conscious of, live. The conscious brain allows us to evoke emotions and rational thinking based on our moral beliefs. The conscious thoughts have the obligation to “do the right thing” by our personal moral standards. Therefore it operates based on choice, and what we believe is right or wrong and good or bad. 

    Psychodynamic therapy can help identify unpleasant repressed thoughts, situations, and memories that are deep within the unconscious. The therapist will create the correct scenario for the patient to become self-aware of these deep lodged thoughts and how they might be causing issues.

    What Happens During A Therapy Session?

    Psychodynamic therapy is quite unique, as it demands a good relationship between the therapist and patient. Here is what’s necessary for both parties:

    1. What’s necessary for a patient in psychodynamic therapy?
    • the need to trust and like the therapist 
    • willingness to provide information about events of their life
    • ability to build a rapport with the therapist
    2. What’s necessary for a therapist in psychodynamic therapy?
    • feelings of comfort with working with this specific patient
    • having a genuine care about their patient’s well being
    • being emotionally available 
    3. What does a therapy room for psychodynamic therapy look like?
    • patient and therapist will sit at eye-level 
    • the chairs are facing each other
    • eye contact is encouraged, this helps create a bond and increases trust 
    4. What questions are asked in a psychodynamic session?

    The first couple of sessions are going to be around building trust. The therapist will encourage the patient to talk freely about anything that crosses their mind. As they continue to free talk, some old thoughts, memories, and experiences often come up, which can shine some light into unconscious desires, emotions, and relationship patterns.

    The therapist will use phrases like “how does that make you feel?” and “What does that mean to you?” These questions will push the patient to evaluate themselves even further.

    5. The solutions offered in psychodynamic therapy

    Once the therapist identifies unconscious patterns, they will choose the best way to resolve them based on their experience and the patient. Roleplay is a common technique used to help the patient pretend to be the person they want to be. This helps to understand not only desires, but also inferiorities and help set goals.

    Psychodynamic therapy can help develop a healthy social interest, improve interpersonal relationships and achieve realistic goals. It is a type of therapy that is especially useful when dealing with adolescents and young adults.

    Difference Between Psychodynamic Therapy And Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)? 

    Although CBT is similar to psychodynamic therapy, the main difference is that CBT works on a specific problem at the time and helps the patient obtain short term solutions. The sessions focus on identifying the cause of the specific problem that is concerning the patient. Once identified the therapist will introduce a new way to think about the problem. The base of CBT is that the problem is not the problem itself, but the way that you are thinking about it. However, the results of this therapy are only short term since the therapist does not focus on going full in-depth like on psychodynamic therapy.

    If it is your first time going to therapy, psychodynamic therapy is a great option because it will feel more relaxed, less structured, like talking to a friend. Psychodynamic therapy has been around for over 100 years, it helps to understand how behavior and mood are affected by unresolved issues and unconscious feelings. Because psychodynamic therapy helps you gain a deeper understanding of the source of your conduct the results grow even after the therapy has ended. 

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