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Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

What kind of therapy is it?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is derived from psychoanalysis - the original form of psychotherapy, created by Sigmund Freud.

What problems can it help with?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy seeks to produce deep change in personality rather than focussing on specific problems, although specific problems may resolve with such change. It may be particularly helpful if your problems affect many areas of your life, are hard to pin down, or relate to your relationships with others. It may also enable those who are already functioning well to find greater meaning and fulfilment in their lives.

How does it work?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is based on the idea that we often avoid painful thoughts, feelings, and memories, but that they can continue to affect us nonetheless. They might affect how we feel, and also how we relate to others. Psychodynamic psychotherapy aims to uncover these hidden thoughts, feelings, and memories by exploring both your past life experiences and the feelings and behaviours that emerge in your relationship with the therapist. You might get in touch with things that you were not aware of, but that were causing you distress and affecting how you relate to others. As you come to understand where your distress is coming from, you might find that it reduces. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is typically a long-term form of therapy but also can be done briefly.

What is a typical session like?

In a psychodynamic therapy session you are given the space to speak freely - there is no structure and your therapist might say relatively little. They might seek to draw your attention to feelings that you have but are not aware of, and to the ways that these feelings play out in your relationship with them. They will be interested to hear about your past experiences in life, and in your dreams, daydreams, and fantasies.

What’s the evidence?

There is evidence that psychodynamic psychotherapy is effective for a wide range of problems. There is evidence that clients who receive psychodynamic psychotherapy continue to get better even after the therapy has ended.

Further reading:
British Psychoanalytic Council


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