Psychodynamic psychotherapy is based on psychoanalysis, but is typically less intensive in terms of frequency of sessions and duration of treatment.
Psychodynamic therapy has been studied empirically and found to be effective for various purposes. Some findings suggest that it yields longer-lasting symptom relief for certain disorders than shorter-term therapies that may act more on the surface.
Psychodynamic therapy typically involves a number of the following:
- exploring the client’s ways of avoiding distressing thoughts and feelings
- identifying recurring themes and patterns in the client’s inner life and relationships
- exploring how the client’s past relates to the present
- thinking about the client’s interpersonal relations, as well as the therapeutic relationship itself
- exploring the client’s inner life, including desires, fears, fantasies, dreams, and daydreams
- exploring the full range of the client’s emotions
Various symptoms and experiences fall under the heading of “anxiety,” including:
- experiences of worry and difficulty tolerating uncertainty
- fears of being embarrassed or judged negatively in social situations
- panic attacks involving difficulty breathing or swallowing, bodily aches, and fears of dying or losing control
Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic anxiety psychotherapy take account of a person’s unique experiences of anxiety in helping him or her to examine underlying causes and to make lasting changes that can lead to a more fulfilling life.
According to a recent study, roughly 7% of adults will experience an episode of depression in any given year. Symptoms of depression can include
- low mood
- decreased or increased appetite
- decreased or increased sleep
- fatigue or low energy
- poor self-image
- difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- feelings of hopelessness
Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic depression psychotherapy aim to help clients to gain insight into causes of their depression and to explore ways of living with a greater sense of freedom and satisfaction. There can be many layers to depression, and psychodynamic and psychoanalytic depression psychotherapy set out to be realistic by respecting the full complexity of one’s personality and life history.
People seek out relationship psychotherapy for various reasons. Some want to better understand why they continue in the same unwanted relationship patterns. Others struggle with feelings of loneliness, isolation, or a sense that they are not relating to others in ways that they find meaningful.
Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic relationship psychotherapy take account of a person’s life history in exploring underlying reasons for relationship difficulties. This can lead to increased understanding of what he or she desires from relationships, and can help him or her to make choices that will lead to more satisfying relationships in the future.
Some people seek out psychotherapy because they struggle with self-esteem difficulties – which can be experienced as a feeling or belief that they are not worth very much. Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic self-esteem psychotherapy consider a person’s self-esteem difficulties in the context of his or her life history and internal emotional conflicts. Psychotherapy provides an opportunity to form new ways of thinking and feeling about oneself that can lead to a sense of greater satisfaction and freedom.
Some people experience anger that they find difficult to control. This can occur with their partner or other family members, at work, or in other contexts in their lives. Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic anger psychotherapy allow people to explore what underlies their anger. This may include experiences of past trauma, feelings of diminished self-worth, depression, stress and anxiety, or unacknowledged internal conflicts.
J. Shedler, The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
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