What it is
Psychodynamic psychotherapy has its roots in the psychoanalytic therapy that was developed by Sigmund Freud. It focuses on changing present behaviors by exploring early life events.
Who needs it
Psychodynamic therapy (either alone or combined with other treatments) successfully addresses a wide variety of psychiatric disorders, from depressive and anxiety to substance abuse and eating disorders.
How it works
The discussion of the patient’s childhood occurs in the setting of the patient-therapist relationship, termed the ‘therapeutic alliance’. This foundation of trust, both in the therapist and in the process of the patient and therapist working together, is the single most important aspect of psychodynamic therapy. In this context, patients are free to revisit childhood experiences and examine how they affect present relationships. By playing out these dynamics in a structured environment, therapists can help patients effect change in their relationships outside the therapist’s office.
Where to go
Although psychiatrists learn psychodynamic therapy as part of their training, usually they will refer a patient to a therapist, such as a licensed clinical social worker or a psychologist. The timing of therapy can vary widely, with frequency being from multiple times a week to monthly and duration being from just a few visits to lasting for several years.
What to expect
Patients undergoing psychodynamic therapy show better responses to psychiatric medications than patients receiving only medication.
What could happen
The process of remembering early-life traumatic events can be unpleasant for many people, but the unpleasantness is only a temporary part of therapy.