The unconscious mind harbors deep-rooted feelings and memories that can exert a powerful influence on one’s mood and behavior. Psychodynamic Therapy is a form of psychology that helps those thoughts reveal themselves so they can be processed and eventually resolved.
It is the oldest of the modern therapies and is designed to help someone become more aware of how their past influences their present, and change a certain aspect of their identity or personality.
Psychodynamic Therapy methods are based on the belief that the unconscious holds onto painful thoughts or experiences that have become too difficult for the conscious mind to process. In order to prevent them from surfacing, it is common for people to develop defense mechanisms, such as repression, denial, projection, displacement, and regression. This behavior is very common, especially when that person feels threatened or overwhelmed. In severe cases, it can cause chemical dependency or certain neuroses such as anxiety, phobias, obsessions, or hysteria to develop and cause difficulty and tension.
The theory behind Psychodynamic Therapy differs from other forms in that it emphasizes one’s level of functioning to determine the nature of intervention. To benefit from this practice, one must have a genuine interest in exploring who they are and why they behave the way they do, as well as the capacity to look within and reflect on their capabilities to change.
How Psychodynamic Therapy Differs
The central focus of Psychodynamic Therapy is to allow clients to recognize and express their feelings so that they can learn how avoiding thoughts and feelings can lead to negative patterns of behavior. It also encourages clients to talk about past experiences, how they may be impacting themselves, and how they relate to others.
Although this is a long-term treatment method, studies have shown that the benefits not only endure, they increase over time. In some cases, it can take up to two years for clients to see significant changes, but most see improvements after two to three sessions working with a professional mental health practitioner.
The sessions will initially concentrate on getting the client to talk freely, using a technique known as free association to encourage spontaneity and allow for true thoughts and feelings to emerge without any concern for how painful, illogical, or silly they may sound. From there, a therapist will begin to focus on certain emotions to allow their client to recognize and explore the impact those emotions have on their behavior, and eventually help them overcome any limitations caused by unconscious feelings.
As a result, clients experience an increase in self-esteem, confidence, and understanding in themselves and others. They develop the ability to have more satisfying relationships. Once this occurs, they are more likely to recognize and tolerate a wide range of emotions and gradually become more able to face any difficulties that arise.