What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy (sometimes called insight-oriented therapy) is an analytical talking therapy. It explores the past, especially important relationships from childhood, in order to understand how unresolved inner conflicts in the unconscious mind can affect feelings, experiences, behaviours and relationships in the present.

This therapy evolved from Freud’s psychoanalysis [link] and also focuses on unconscious thought processes but it also draws on techniques and ideas from others including Carl Jung (1875-1961) and Alfred Adler (1870-1937).

The theory is that by talking about your early relationship with your parents and other significant people in your life, and discovering unconscious patterns and conflicts, you can gain a greater understanding of how the past influences the present – and move on.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy tends to be more practical, less intense and shorter-term than psychoanalysis.

It can help if …

The National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence (NICE) recommends short-term psychodynamic therapy as a treatment for depression. It is also used to treat eating disorders, psychosomatic conditions, phobias, obsessive behaviour, anxiety and relationship issues.

What happens?

In psychodynamic therapy, the relationship between you and the therapist is paramount. The therapist remains neutral and does not reveal any personal information in order to become a blank canvas into which you can ‘transfer’ and project feelings. The relationship that you develop with each other over the duration of the therapy reflects past and present relationships elsewhere in your life. This therapy can be short-term and long-term.

For more information, see the British Psychoanalytic Council.