Psychodynamic therapy is the psychological interpretation of mental and emotional processes. Rooted in traditional psychoanalysis, it draws from object relations, ego psychology, and self psychology. It was developed as a simpler, less-lengthy alternative to psychoanalysis.
Psychodynamic therapy aims to address the foundation and formation of psychological processes. In this way, it seeks to reduce symptoms and improve people’s lives.
CORE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHODYNAMIC THERAPY
In psychodynamic therapy, therapists help people gain insight into their lives and present-day problems. They also evaluate patterns people develop over time. To do this, therapists review certain life factors with a person in therapy:
Recognizing recurring patterns can help people see how they avoid distress or develop defense mechanisms to cope. This insight may allow them to begin changing those patterns.
The therapeutic relationship is central to psychodynamic therapy. It can demonstrate how a person interacts with their friends and loved ones. In addition, transference in therapy can show how early-life relationships affect a person today. Transference is the transferring one’s feelings for a parent, for example, onto the therapist. This intimate look at interpersonal relationships can help people understand their part in relationship patterns. It may empower them to transform that dynamic.
Psychodynamic therapy is available to individuals, couples, families, or groups. It can be used as short-term or long-term therapy. Brief psychodynamic therapy is goal-oriented and can take as many as 25 sessions. Long-term psychodynamic therapy may take two years or more.
ACCESSING THE UNCONSCIOUS
People tend to develop defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms may keep painful feelings, memories, and experiences in the unconscious. A few common defense mechanisms include:
Psychodynamic therapists encourage people to speak freely about their emotions, desires, and fears. Being open may help reveal vulnerable feelings that have been pushed out of conscious awareness. According to psychodynamic theory, behavior is influenced by unconscious thought. Once vulnerable or painful feelings are processed, the defense mechanisms reduce or resolve.