What is psychodynamic psychotherapy?
If you continually find yourself troubled by emotional or behavioural struggles then it is time to see a psychotherapist. This might include (but is not limited to) depression, anxiety or relationship issues. Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps people increase their understanding of themselves giving them more skills and ability to cope with future difficulties when they arise.
People who come for psychotherapy may be aware of repetitive themes or situations that trouble them. Whereas counselling tends to focus on a specific situation or problem, psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses more on your longstanding behaviours or parts of your personality that you want to change.
Psychotherapy helps you improve yourself
Whilst you can’t become somebody that you are not, when you understand yourself more clearly you will gain some control over your reactions rather than be controlled by them. Subsequently, you begin to feel better about yourself as you regain a sense of choice over which direction your life will take. You can learn to manage the challenges that life presents. You can form better relationships with the people that matter.
People coming for psychotherapy often say things such as:
- I always seem to be unhappy.
- I’m much more anxious than anybody else – it’s not normal.
- I just get so angry. It comes out of nowhere!
- I feel powerless to change my situation.
- All my friends tell me I over analyse everything.
- I just don’t know what to do.
- I always seem to end up in bad relationships even though I know they aren’t good for me.
- I have such big reactions to seemingly small events.
- I know I’ll end up doing it again but it feels beyond my control.
- I seem to sabotage all my relationships but I can’t stop myself.
- I have such low esteem. If I could just stop the negative talk in my head…
By exploring your present and past experiences a psychotherapist will help you make sense of why you feel the way you do. You will begin to understand why certain situations trigger specific (and perhaps undesirable) responses. The process of psychotherapy will help you develop new and more effective ways of managing challenging situations through an increased understanding of yourself and the experiences and events in your life which have shaped you.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy continues to help long after treatment has finished
Psychodynamic therapy is an empirically supported treatment for a range of issues including depression, anxiety, panic, and substance abuse. Research has shown that psychodynamic psychotherapy is as effective – or more effective – than other comparable therapies such as CBT or medication. Furthermore, people who receive psychodynamic therapy continue to improve long after treatment has finished.
What happens during the session?
Appointments are 50 minutes long and usually occur weekly. There is no predetermined number of sessions that you need to attend. Some people may come just a few times whilst others might continue regular meetings for much longer. You continue your therapy for as long as you need, until you feel able to cope by yourself.
Your therapist will help you to understand what experiences in your life have shaped and influenced who you are now and how the ways you have learned to cope in the past might help or hinder you in the present.
The process of each psychotherapy session is collaborative meaning that you and your therapist work together to make sense of your situation; the client brings the subject matter and the psychotherapist elicits increased awareness and understanding.
As a client you might want to talk about something that you have struggled with recently or you may wish to explore reoccurring problems that continually trouble you. Your therapist will help you recognise and understand themes or patterns of behaviour in yourself and gain insight into how you feel and why. With this insight you begin to develop more effective ways of coping in the future.
Rather than just looking at the surface details of a situation psychotherapy looks below the surface and explores how you experience the situation; how you felt, what got triggered, how you reacted etc. Using this deeper understanding and awareness you develop more control over your choices and behaviour.
It’s never too late to change
Psychotherapy is about understanding what makes you who you are so that you can regain some choice over your reactions to life’s challenges. Looking back on our lives most of have some moments that we wish we had handled differently; a psychotherapist can help you develop better ways of reacting when these moments occur in the future. As we begin to understand our past actions more clearly we can reap the benefits of this insight and open up possibilities for a more satisfying way of living.