Learn about Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a psychological treatment that can help people with emotional and relationship problems. It is also referred to as ‘psychoanalytic psychotherapy’, but for practical purposes both terms mean the same thing.
One of the main ideas in psychodynamic therapy is that when something is very painful we can find ourselves trying to ignore it (it’s a bit like the saying “out of sight, out of mind”). Most of the time we know when we’re doing this, but sometimes we can bury something so successfully that we lose sight of it completely. This is why difficult experiences in the past can continue to affect the way we feel and behave in the present.
Psychodynamic therapy provides people with a safe place to talk openly about how they feel and to understand what might be causing their difficulties. An example shows how this might work. Someone who was repeatedly rejected by their parents may stop themselves thinking about how painful this is. As an adult they might withdraw from relationships, feeling that it is safer to be alone and not having to depend on anyone. Although not getting close to anyone helps them to feel safer, they might also feel lonely and get depressed as a result.
How would a psychodynamic therapist help such a person? By helping them to talk freely about themselves it might become clear that whenever someone tries to get to know them, they fear the worst and push them away, just to make sure that no-one ever gets close enough to hurt or disappoint them again. In the course of day-to-day life people don’t necessarily notice how they are behaving or responding to others because this becomes second nature – ‘the way things are’. By drawing their attention to this, therapy would help them to understand themselves better and change the way they respond.
(Alessandra Lemma, Anthony D. Roth and Stephen Pilling, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/clinical-psychology/)