This blog explains in detail psychodynamic therapy, one of the oldest therapies. The blog aims to provide you information on the goals and the techniques used in psychodynamic therapy.
There is a lot more to learn in this blog about psychodynamic therapy, so let’s not delay further and start with the definition of psychodynamic therapy.
What is Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic therapy is a kind of psychotherapy that focuses on finding an association between thoughts and behaviors.
More specifically this theory aims to identify and deal with and the individual’s unconscious thoughts and beliefs which are influencing his current behavior.
This is one of the oldest psychotherapies and might seem similar to psychoanalysis, but psychoanalysis and psychodynamic theory are two different approaches.
This topic will be addressed later on in this blog.
Goals of Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic therapies are intended to allow the patients to out and deal with their hidden emotions, feelings, thoughts, or beliefs that are affecting his present life add negatively influencing their behavior.
Psychodynamic therapies am to help individuals increase their awareness about self and understand their thoughts feelings and emotions with reference to their prior experiences or childhood memories.
Psychodynamic therapists help clients identify their unresolved conflicts and work on them to prevent their negative effects on self and behavior.
The assumption in psychodynamic therapies is that persistent, chronic illnesses are a result of unconscious thoughts and emotions, therefore it is important to unveil those thoughts and emotions through catharsis and deal with them.
This is only possible when the individual is aware of himself.
Self-awareness helps an individual identify his unconscious thoughts and understand how he can better deal with them to prevent their negative effects on the individual himself and his behavior.
Psychoanalysis: The Freudian Approach
Often psychodynamic therapy is confused with psychoanalysis.
These approaches might seem similar but they both differ in their context and goals.
Although these both therapies have the same roots, the following differences make both of them unique from each other:
1. First of all, psychoanalysis is much extensive and in-depth psychotherapy as compared to psychodynamic therapy.
The client has to attend 2 to 5 sessions per week of psychoanalysis for about 7 years (McLeod, 2014).
2. Secondly, psychoanalysis requires a proper set up for therapy which includes a couch on which the client lies, and a chair behind the couch on which the therapist sits, without the client being able to see him.
On the other hand, psychodynamic therapy does not require any such conditions, it can be done with the client and therapist facing each other.
3. The association between the therapist and the client is much unbalanced in psychoanalysis as compared to that in psychodynamic therapy.
In psychoanalysis, only the therapist knows the knowledge of psychoanalytic techniques he is applying to the client and the client is detached from the therapist and unaware of which therapies are being applied to him.
Although psychodynamic therapy and psychoanalysis are different approaches, modern psychodynamic therapy uses some of the principles of psychoanalysis, but the role of the therapist has not been retained in modern psychodynamic therapy.
The role of the therapist has been modified in modern psychodynamic therapy, as we discussed above and will study more closely under the next heading.
Role of the Psychodynamic Therapist
In modern psychodynamic therapy, the therapist and client work simultaneously to help the client identify his unconscious experiences, their influence on the current behavior of the individual, and to figure out how to resolve those unresolved conflicts to prevent their effect on the individual and his behavior.
In psychodynamic therapy, the therapist encourages the client to identify and speak about his emotions, feelings, and thoughts so the therapist could identify recurring patterns in the thinking pattern and emotional experiences of the client.
This would help the client as well as the therapist to acknowledge the importance of these patterns and their influence on the life of the client.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on past childhood experiences, therefore, the therapist examines the past of the client and early life experiences to identify the reasons behind the present issues of the client.
The psychodynamic therapist focuses on how the client interacts with the therapeutic relationship and applies his own insight into this interaction to discuss the matter.
The quality of the client’s behavior with the therapist reflects his behavior with his other relations set as his wife, children, or family members.
In simple words, the therapist aims to connect the past of the individual with his present to identify his unconscious and unresolved issues that are influencing his present, so they both can work on them and aid the client in dealing with those problems.
There are a number of psychodynamic therapies that are in use today.
Among these, the most common psychodynamic therapies are free association, dream analysis, transference, and brief psychodynamic therapy. These are discussed further as follows.
1. Free Association Technique
The free association technique is used to study the unconscious mind of the client by closely examining his thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and images that come into their mind very often.
The therapist puts together all these things and tries to find out the hidden meaning behind these clues.
The therapist helps the clients to develop an insight into their problems without any kind of resistance, so the therapist could better understand his repressed thoughts and memories.
2. Dream Analysis
In dream analysis, the therapist tries to find out the meaning of the dreams of their clients.
The try to figure out the repressed memories which are being exhibited through the dreams of clients.
Transference is a normal reaction that occurs during the process of psychoanalysis.
In the process of transference, the client displays the behavior he has with his relatives or significant others on to the therapist.
According to Sigmund Freud, transference is a very important part of therapy, as it helps the therapist understand the client closely and identify his unresolved conflicts.
4. Brief Psychodynamic Therapy
In brief psychodynamic therapy, both the client and therapist predetermine the issues that they are going to work together on, rather than waiting for the time when they emerge.
In this case, the role of the therapist is direct and he focuses on present rather than the past of the client.
This therapy is effective for individuals who are experiencing multiple psychological disorders.
When it is Used
The psychodynamic therapies are used for treating a number of illnesses.
The following are some of the issues and psychological disorders which are treated by applying psychodynamic therapies:
- Lack of direction in life
- Lack of meaning in life
- Issues in maintaining healthy relationships
- Social anxiety disorder
- Eating disorders
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
The following is a list of some of the best books on psychodynamic therapies.
These books are a helpful source of increasing knowledge about psychodynamic therapies and learning how to apply psychodynamic therapy in therapeutic interventions or for self-help.
You can read these books to acknowledge the goals and techniques used in the psychodynamic approach.
Just click the book you wish to read and you will be redirected to the page from where you can access it.
- Psychodynamic Therapy: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practice by Richard F. Summers and Jacques P. Barber
- Psychodynamic Therapy for Personality Pathology: Treating Self and Interpersonal Functioning by Eve Caligor, Otto F. Kernberg, et al. | Apr 18, 2018
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Clinical Manual by Deborah L. Cabaniss, Sabrina Cherry, et al.
- Essential Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: An Acquired Art by Teri Quatman
- Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: A Practitioner’s Guide by Nancy McWilliams
What is psychodynamic therapy used to treat?
Psychodynamic therapy is used for a number of reasons.
The main use of psychodynamic therapy is to treat depression and other serious psychological disturbances especially in people who find themselves astray with a lack of direction in their lives, and those were having problems in maintaining healthy relationships.
Which of the following is a technique used in psychodynamic therapy?
Various techniques are used in psychodynamic therapy.
The most common of these techniques include free association, dream analysis, transference, recognizing and working on problematic issues and hurtful memories, and building a strong therapeutic association.
How is the psychodynamic theory applied?
Psychodynamic therapy intends to focus on the hidden unconscious processes of individuals that are being exhibited through his behavior.
Psychodynamic therapy aims to help the client develop self-awareness and acknowledge how his prior experiences and childhood painful memories are affecting his current behavior.
What are the goals and techniques of psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy seem similar but they differ in their context.
Sigmund Freud used psychoanalysis to help people develop insight and relief from their psychological disorders by identifying memories hidden in their unconscious mind which are causing anxiety to them.
What are the key features of the psychodynamic approach?
The two key features of the psychodynamic approach are as follows:
- The behavior and feelings of individuals are related to his childhood experiences
- The behavior and feelings of individuals are greatly influenced by the meaning of events to the unconscious mind.
What is an example of psychodynamic therapy?
Some examples in which psychodynamic approach is used to identify, explain, and deal with the issues of clients include:
- Childhood trauma can result in extensive handwashing in an individual
- Childhood in anxiety-causing events can lead to Nail biting in later years
This blog explained in detail psychodynamic therapy.
The blog mentioned the goals of psychodynamic therapy, its difference with psychoanalysis, the role of psychodynamic therapists, and four of the most used psychodynamic therapies.
The uses of psychodynamic therapy are also mentioned in this blog. We hope you would benefit from this blog.
If you have any queries or questions regarding this blog, let us know through your comments in the comment section.
We will be glad to assist you.
What is Psychodynamic Therapy? 5 Tools & Techniques by Courtney E. Ackerman (2020)
Therapies-Chapter 15 Flashcards | Quizlet
Psychodynamic Therapy | Psychology Today
Psychodynamic Therapy in South Florida | The Recovery …