Psychodynamic therapy is a therapeutic approach that embraces the work of all analytic therapies. While the roots of psychodynamic therapy lie predominantly in Freud’s approach of psychoanalysis, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank, and Melanie Klein are all widely recognised for their involvement in further developing the concept and application of psychodynamics.
Psychodynamic therapy aims to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness – helping individuals to unravel, experience and understand their true, deep-rooted feelings to resolve them. It takes the view that our unconscious holds onto painful feelings and memories, which are too difficult for the conscious mind to process.
While it shares the same core principles of psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy is typically far less intensive – focusing primarily on immediate problems and attempting to find a quicker solution. Both approaches, however, are said to help people with a range of psychological disorders to make significant changes to how they make decisions and interact with others.
The psychodynamic approach is designed to help individuals with a wide range of problems, though is generally more effective in treating specific issues, such as anxiety, addiction and eating disorders. Primarily used to treat depression, psychodynamic therapy can be particularly beneficial for those who have lost meaning in their lives or have difficulty forming or maintaining personal relationships. This approach works particularly well for those with a genuine interest in exploring themselves and seeking self-knowledge as well as relieving symptoms.
To help you to understand what your ‘unconscious disturbances’ are and how your mind works, psychodynamic therapists will draw on similar techniques used in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy, such as free association, therapeutic transference and interpretation.
- Free Association: which involves you talking about whatever comes into your mind without censoring or editing the flow of memories or ideas.
- Therapeutic transference: Transference relates to the way you may be transferring thoughts or feelings connected to influential figures in your life (for example your parents or siblings) onto your therapist.
Interpretation: A key element of psychoanalytic therapy is interpreting and ‘reading between the lines’. While your therapist is likely to stay relatively quiet and allow you to talk freely, they will occasionally interject with thoughts or interpretations of the topics you discuss.