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What Is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Learn about psychodynamic psychotherapy and how it can help treat various mental health conditions.

What Is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy, or psychoanalytic psychotherapy, is a type of therapy that focuses on analyzing the mind. Rather than focus on actions and behaviors, psychodynamic psychotherapy goes deeper to view mental and emotional processes.

There are many types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Although psychodynamic psychotherapy is not as common as CBT, studies have shown that it is just as effective in treating mental health disorders.1

psychodynamic psychotherapy

How It Works

Psychodynamic psychotherapy involves a health care provider, typically a psychodynamic therapist, and the patient in one-on-one sessions. The therapist will:

  • Analyze the Mind: From their emotions to their thoughts and beliefs, the therapist works to uncover unconscious patterns in mental processes. This can help both the therapist and the individual better understand how their mind works and processes information.
  • Provide Tools to Succeed: The therapist will teach the patient effective coping mechanisms and techniques by gathering a better understanding of the individual characteristics of their subconscious, such as how they react to certain information. Psychodynamic psychotherapy can work to unlock internal resources in the brain, helping to connect past events with present situations. 

What Is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Approach?

Like other forms of psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy is a talk-based therapy, meaning the primary mode of treatment is through conversation between the individual and the therapist. 

The psychodynamic psychotherapy approach focuses on gaining a better understanding of one's emotions and mental processes to help cultivate mindfulness and awareness in the individual. This deeper insight is then available when trying to make decisions or cope with stressful situations in the future.

Techniques Used in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Each psychodynamic psychotherapy session will include specific techniques and tools to help bolster the success of each session.

The techniques used in psychodynamic psychotherapy help unwind how the brain processes information and emotion, translating into a better understanding of thoughts and feelings. As a result, in many cases, psychodynamic psychotherapy techniques revolve around identifying and recognizing certain feelings and their source. Some of the techniques used may include:

  • Free association
  • Transference of feelings
  • Counter-transference of feelings
  • Identification of ways to avoid distress
  • Questioning for clarification
  • Catharsis

Uses of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is an evidence-based treatment for a variety of disorders and conditions. Thus, enough research has been conducted to claim its effectiveness and find which conditions best respond to the therapy.

Because psychodynamic psychotherapy encourages mindfulness and awareness of emotions, it is often best used for disorders involving emotions, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. One study showed that 85% of children with emotional disorders responded well to psychodynamic psychotherapy, effectively reducing internalizing symptoms.2

Conditions Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Can Treat

It can also be beneficial for general psychological distress. Needless to say, this therapy can help treat many issues and conditions, including:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Psychological distress
  • Drug Addiction
  • Eating disorders
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Personality disorders

Characteristics of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Although psychodynamic psychotherapy is a type of psychotherapy, it has unique characteristics that make it beneficial for better understanding emotions and how they influence the patient’s current self and behavior.

Recognizing Patterns in Behavior and Relationships

One of the first steps in psychodynamic psychotherapy is learning to recognize patterns when they manifest in behavior and relationships. By doing so, it allows the patient to acknowledge where acceptance and change are needed.

In addition, recognizing patterns can shed light on what events may trigger certain emotions. This key component is what allows for psychodynamic psychotherapy to be a beneficial treatment option for depression and anxiety. For instance, multiple studies show that this type of therapy effectively reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, even after six- and twelve-month follow-ups.3

Exploring and Understanding Emotions

Psychodynamic psychotherapy prioritizes mindfulness, especially regarding emotions. During this form of psychotherapy, the individual and therapist work together to see where certain emotions arise and how it influences behavior. 

One of the best examples is the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. PTSD is characterized by intense emotions, especially anxiety and general fearfulness, in triggering situations. Psychodynamic psychotherapy works to better understand why these emotions come about and how they result in the behaviors associated with PTSD.  One study found that psychodynamic psychotherapy significantly reduced adverse symptoms from trauma compared to other therapies.4

Improving Relationships

Lastly, because psychodynamic therapy creates a better understanding of patterns and mental processes, it can make it easier to connect with loved ones. The treatment promotes mindfulness and regulation of emotions, which can help individuals connect and reduce reactions to triggers.

What to Expect From a Psychodynamic Therapy

psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy mostly consists of conversations between the individual and their therapist. Patients are encouraged to talk freely, allowing for patterns and emotions towards those patterns to be identified. As a result, individuals can gain a better perspective and understanding of how these patterns and emotions affect their daily lives.  

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is so beneficial for PTSD because it also focuses on reflecting on past experiences and their impacts on the current self. This can help people find closure and heal from traumatic experiences by understanding how past events influence their everyday lives. 

Finding Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Treatment at Boardwalk Recovery Center

Boardwalk Recovery Center specializes in evidence-based treatments, including psychodynamic psychotherapy. Here, you’ll receive professional mental health care for a variety of disorders in a natural and safe environment that promotes recovery. Our professional staff is composed of healthcare professionals focused on providing high-quality care and encouraging you throughout every step of your recovery journey.

Contact us today and begin your wellness journey; we are here for you every step of the way.

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.
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