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What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy is effective in treating a variety of conditions. Learn more about psychodynamic therapy and the resources available that can help.

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What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of psychotherapy that can help treat various conditions. Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps facilitate a deeper understanding of one’s emotions and mental processes. Psychodynamic treatment is a good option to consider if you’re looking for a form of therapy to help with mental health, addiction, or behavioral disorders.

Psychodynamic Therapy Definition

Psychodynamic therapy is a type of talk therapy. Psychodynamic therapy techniques are based on the principle that talking through problems with a professional can help provide relief and find solutions. Working with a psychodynamic therapist helps gain a better understanding of thoughts, feelings, and conflicts that contribute to negative behaviors. Your therapist will then work with you to create more positive behavioral patterns.1

How Effective Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy is a very effective treatment method. A study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that psychodynamic psychotherapy can greatly affect treating several conditions.2

Psychodynamic Therapy Supporting Statistics

The study mentioned above from the APA focused on effect size, which measures the change produced by each treatment. An effect size of 0.80 is considered a large effect. Out of 1,431 patients, they found an effect size of 0.97 for treating mental health conditions. Therapy sessions during the study were once per week and lasted less than a year. The patients were also re-evaluated nine or more months after therapy ended, and it was found that the effect size increased by 50% to 1.51. According to the APA, the effect size for the most widely used antidepressant medications is only 0.31. This shows that psychodynamic psychotherapy is a very effective treatment method.

What Is the Primary Goal of Psychodynamic Therapy?

The goals of psychodynamic therapy are focused on building self-awareness and understanding of how thoughts, feelings, and conflicts affect behavior. Over time, your psychodynamic therapist will work with you to develop coping mechanisms so you can learn to self-manage your condition.

Psychodynamic Therapy vs CBT

The main difference between psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is that psychodynamic treatment focuses more on the unconscious mind and emotions. In contrast, CBT focuses more on conscious thoughts and perceptions and how they affect behavior. Both psychodynamic therapy and CBT can be effective treatment methods.

What Does Psychodynamic Therapy Focus On?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy can be effective in treating several different conditions. Common conditions that psychodynamic treatment focuses on are:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Depression
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Problems with pain
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Borderline personality disorder

Types of Psychodynamic Therapy

Many different types of psychodynamic therapy may be used during treatment. Different types of psychodynamic psychotherapy may be more effective for treating certain conditions than others.

Brief Psychodynamic Therapy

Brief psychodynamic therapy, also known as short-term psychodynamic therapy, is a short-term therapeutic treatment that usually lasts no longer than 25 sessions. This form of therapy is good for conditions that can be treated in a short period.3

Long-Term Psychodynamic Therapy

Long-term psychodynamic therapy is a treatment that is generally ongoing or lasts for a long period. For certain chronic conditions, long-term therapy is a more effective treatment option.

Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT)

DIT is a form of therapy that can help with emotional and relationship problems. Psychodynamic interpersonal therapy helps improve a client’s condition by learning to manage relationship problems more effectively.4

Psychodynamic Art/Music Therapies

Psychodynamic art or music therapy is a form of psychodynamic treatment that uses art or music as part of the treatment process. Using different art forms can help clients express themselves in different ways. This can be useful for those who don’t respond well to traditional talk therapy.

Psychodynamic Family Therapy

Psychodynamic family therapy involves working with all family members. This can be useful for those with family issues or to help family members learn more about their loved one’s condition. This can help create a positive support system within the family.

How Does Psychodynamic Therapy Work?

Psychodynamic therapy interventions usually follow a general process of recognizing patterns, understanding emotions, and improving relationships.

Recognizing Patterns

During therapy sessions, your therapist will work with you to recognize patterns in your thoughts and behaviors. Over time, you can learn to identify harmful behavior and thinking patterns and create more positive thoughts and behavioral patterns through skills learned during therapy.

Understanding Emotions

Psychodynamic psychotherapy will help with understanding emotions and how they affect your behavior. Therapy sessions will help you learn to recognize emotions and manage them more effectively.

Improving Relationships

Skills learned during therapy sessions will also help you work on interpersonal skills that improve relationships. Over time, better relationships can lead to a better overall well-being.

Psychodynamic Therapy Techniques

Many techniques are commonly used during psychodynamic therapy sessions. These include:

  • Free Association: Free association is a practice used in psychoanalytic therapy. It involves a therapist asking a person to freely share thoughts, words, and anything else that comes to mind. This can help someone better express their unconscious thoughts during a therapy session.5
  • Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM): When you go to a therapy session, certain assessment tools may be used to diagnose your condition. The psychodynamic diagnostic manual is one of the common psychodynamic therapy assessment tools. It’s similar to the DSM-5, which uses a set of criteria to diagnose specific mental health or behavioral health issues.
  • Dream Analysis: Dream analysis is a therapy technique where your therapist will help you analyze the thoughts, emotions, and feelings associated with your dreams. Analyzing dreams can be an excellent way to access someone’s unconscious thoughts and feelings.
  • Rorschach Inkblots: The Rorschach inkblot test involves showing clients a series of inkblot patterns. The client then freely states what they see within the pattern. This technique can be used in psychodynamic therapy to help open up someone’s unconscious thoughts.

Be Prepared for Your First Psychodynamic Therapy Appointment

If you’re attending your first psychodynamic therapy appointment, there are some ways you can prepare for it.

Relapse Prevention

What to Look for In a Psychodynamic Therapist?

Before going to a therapy session, it’s essential to choose a therapist that will be the right fit for you. Things you should look for in a psychodynamic therapist are:

  • Personality fit
  • Proper licensing, certifications, and education
  • What treatments they specialize in
  • Cost and insurance coverage
  • Scheduling and availability

What to Expect in Your First Appointment

During your first appointment, your therapist will likely ask questions about your current life situation and why you seek therapeutic treatment. It’s important to answer these questions openly and honestly so your therapist can understand your condition and begin setting up a treatment plan. Your therapist will then outline a treatment plan with you and develop goals for your continued therapy sessions. They will also likely give you tips on how to start managing your condition immediately.

Contact a Psychodynamic Therapist at Great Oaks Recovery Center

If you’re looking for a psychodynamic therapist, Great Oaks Recovery Center can help. Great Oaks is a treatment provider that provides addiction and mental health treatment services. Psychodynamic therapists at Great Oaks are properly licensed and trained to help you treat a variety of conditions. Contact a psychodynamic therapist at Great Oaks Recovery Center today for more information about how we can help you.



Questions About Treatment?

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