Founder, Description, Philosophy

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a form of therapy that explores the past of the client to reveal unconscious information from the client’s psyche. It relies strongly on the interpersonal relationship dynamic between the client and therapist to understand how the client relates to others. The premise is that life issues and relationship patterns and dynamics re-emerge in the context of the client-therapist relationship. The focus is on uncovering unconscious conflict and identifying defensive strategies that the client uses that help them to avoid the unpleasant consequence of conflict. One central belief is that early childhood experiences influence the development of psychopathology and that insight is important to the success of therapy. Recognizing, acknowledging, understanding, expressing, and overcoming, negative and repressed emotions improves the client’s interpersonal experiences and emotions.

What type of problems is this approach used to treat and what populations can it serve?

Typically, psychodynamic psychotherapy is used to treat depression and other psychological issues especially in those who feel that they have lost meaning in their lives or those who have difficulty in their relationships with others. It has also been used to help people with addictions, social anxiety disorder, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, and more. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is often done with individuals but can be incorporated in other settings.

What does this approach look like in practice? What are some types of interventions?

Psychodynamic psychotherapists will typically explore the early childhood experiences of the client to assess how these experiences influenced the development of their current symptoms. Clients are typically encouraged to speak freely in sessions about anything that comes to mind (fears, desires, dreams, etc.). The therapist’s role is to help the client understand how their repressed earlier emotions are affecting current decision-making, behaviour, and relationships. Clients learn to analyze and resolve their issues and change their behaviour in current relationships through deep exploration and analysis of earlier experiences and emotions. Developing a good working relationship with the therapist is incredibly important in psychodynamic psychotherapy.