Learning about the different types of therapy is absolutely integral to finding the right help for yourself or your loved one. Psychodynamic therapy is based on Freud’s ideas, but was further developed and shaped by psychotherapists such as Carl Jung and Alfred Adler. Generally speaking, psychodynamic therapy is more focused than Freudian psychoanalysis, and is typically a much shorter form of intervention. It’s important to remember that other types of counselling are available, and these may be more appealing to you or your loved one if you don’t like the sound of this approach.
Psychoanalysis is the foundation upon which psychodynamic therapy was built. The underlying principle is that each individual has a subconscious mind, of which they are not consciously aware, which exhibits control over the individual’s thoughts and feelings. Most often, the subconscious mind is shaped by the individual’s experiences in childhood, and any behaviours or feelings the individual displays are based on these childhood experiences. Particularly negative memories could be repressed, meaning that the subconscious mind has covered them up to protect the conscious mind. The conscious is thought to be the smaller portion of the mind, much like the peak of an iceberg rising up out of the sea. The vast majority of the mind – like the underwater bulk of the iceberg – is unseen.
A psychoanalytic therapist basically aims to uncover these hidden emotions and feelings. The subconscious mind ordinarily uses defences such as repression and denial to protect the conscious mind from negative emotions and memories, but the counsellor will assume that these defences are failing. Negative emotions such as depression are seen as symptoms of the failure of this system, and the fact that the individual is seeking help indicates that there is a problem. The main goal of the therapy is to bring these hidden feelings to the surface. This is usually done through “free association,” where the individual simply says whatever is on his or her mind. The therapist then asks questions and probes for more detail before analysing the person’s subconscious.
By helping the individual confront negative experiences from his or her past and addressing underlying negative emotions, the aim is to bring about a change in personality to help them live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life. Since these emotions are often rooted in childhood, this process can take a very long time, often over two years. This long period of psychotherapy can result in great rewards for the individual, but some argue that similar rewards can be achieved more quickly.
Psychodynamic therapy is a more focused version of psychoanalysis. Instead of allowing free association, the counsellor will agree on a focus for the sessions with the client during the initial evaluation, and then go to special effort to keep the remainder of the sessions accordingly focused. It’s a goal-oriented approach, so it can be used to specifically tackle things such as phobias, addiction and depression. Using this more focused counselling, treatment can be as short as eight weeks, but may still continue for longer.
If you or your loved one is considering psychotherapy it can be hard to work out your requirements and the type of therapy most suited to you. It helps to do some general research around the different approaches, but we can help you determine the best course of action. In practice, many therapists use psychodynamic therapy in combination with other approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy, and these combined approaches might be more effective for you. We’ll help you determine your requirements and suggest the best treatment options to you. Our advice is absolutely free and completely confidential, so pick up the phone today and see how we can help you!