Psychodymanic therapy is a respected and popular kind of talk therapy. And it's well established, being the second oldest type of therapy after psychoanalysis.
But is it for you? Let’s look at the facts about psychodynamic therapy.
Psychodynamic therapy believes that your past formed your present. Who you are today is a result of all your previous experiences. You will, of course, share the conflicts you are experiencing in your present day life with your psychodynamic therapist. But together you will then search to find the root of current challenges in your past.
While some more recent types of therapy follow a weekly structure, even including things like worksheets, psychodynamic therapy is about showing up and talking. You might start with a brief overview of where you left off in the previous session. But in general, you just share what’s on your mind, and the therapist asks you good questions. Together you see where the flow of thought takes you.
As an open-ended therapy, you continue working with your therapist until you decide to leave, or until it’s decided you are ready to take a break from therapy. And because psychodynamic therapy is deep work, going back through all of your life to date, it tends to be long-term. This means a year or even several years in total.
Psychoanalysis was the first form of therapy popularised in the Western world, the brainchild of Freud himself. It believes that all our problems come from our unconscious and ‘hidden’ thoughts.
Psychodynamic therapy developed as a reaction to psychoanalysis. It decided to not just look at the unconscious but also our conscious, the thoughts and feelings we are aware of.
The whole point of psychodynamic therapy is not to make you feel stuck in the past but to empower you to do things differently. The idea is that by looking at the past, you will finally understand why you do things the way you do. This self-awareness gives you a starting point for new decisions.
Looking at the past includes looking at your key relationships, like those you have with your mother and father. This gives you realisations about why you act the way you do in your current romantic relationships and friendships.
The ultimate goal of psychodynamic therapy is not just to help you understand yourself. Like all types of therapy, the real goal is to help you be more capable in your present day life. With the support of your therapist you can start making empowering choices, creating a life that feels better for you.