As one of the oldest of the modern therapies, psychodynamic psychotherapy is a type of therapy that helps people explore their full range of emotions including ones that they might not be aware of. It focuses on recognising and expressing feelings and exploring how individuals relate to others.
It is also known as insight-orientated therapy because it helps people understand how their moods and behaviours are influenced by unresolved issues or feelings from their past. Sometimes there are underlying mechanisms that are subconsciously motivating people’s actions, and this type of therapy can help to uncover and resolve them.
One topic that often emerges in psychodynamic psychotherapy is that of defence mechanisms. These are ways that people behave or think in order to protect themselves, and it often happens at the subconscious level.
Some of the primitive defence mechanisms that people might employ include:
More mature defence mechanisms include:
Psychotherapy can help people recognise which defence mechanisms they employ and determine more effective ways to deal with situations instead.
This type of psychotherapy can be useful for those dealing with the following issues:
It can also be helpful in other situations, so clients are advised to ask a qualified therapist to determine if this type of therapy can help with their particular concern.
• It explores a person’s entire range of emotions.
• It helps people recognise patterns in behaviour and discern their significance.
• It can help individuals find healthier ways to deal with their problems.
• It has the power to help people with complex or very deep-seated issues.
• It can help people have more satisfying relationships.
• It can bring about an increased understanding of oneself and other people.
• It can improve people’s ability to face hardships and issues.
According to research published by the American Psychological Association these benefits endure and increase over time.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy doesn’t offer a programme of proactive strategies or exercises that can be adopted to facilitate change but focuses on facilitating the clients ability to find their own way through relational, verbal and emotional exploration. Some clients who prefer a more proactive approach from their psychotherapist can find this element frustrating and not for them. Such individuals might prefer a more integrative psychotherapy which includes more active therapies when helpful, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or solution focussed therapy.
Although individual plans might vary, this therapy typically involves weekly 50-minute sessions. The client is encouraged to talk freely, and the therapist helps him or her to put his feelings into words and looks for patterns in his thoughts and behaviour. The patient will eventually develop a better awareness of his inner world and its influence on his past and present relationships, which can help him to understand and resolve certain issues he is facing. The therapy might end after 16 to 20 weeks, or it could go on for years depending on the complexity of the issue at hand.