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What is Psychodynamic therapy?

Discover psychodynamic therapy and how it can help you resolve personal issues. Learn about its uses in treatment of various conditions.

What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy, also known as insight-oriented therapy, focuses on helping people understand their problems and behaviors. The goal is to help people understand how past experiences and relationships have influenced their current thoughts and behaviors.

Psychodynamic Therapy

How It Works

Psychodynamic therapy typically involves weekly 50-minute sessions. The therapist will help you explore your past experiences and relationships to identify any patterns or themes that may be causing problems in your life. For example, you might discuss a time when you felt rejected by a loved one. The therapist would help you explore how that experience has influenced your current relationships. 1

Psychodynamic therapy can help treat many mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. It is also sometimes used to treat eating disorders and substance abuse.

What Is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Approach?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is an approach that emphasizes the role of the unconscious mind in shaping behavior. It is based on the idea that our early childhood experiences and relationships influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in adulthood

Psychodynamic therapy aims to help people gain insight into their problems and behaviors. The therapist will help you explore your past experiences and relationships to identify any patterns or themes that may be causing problems in your life.

Techniques Used in Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy employs various techniques to help patients explore their innermost thoughts and feelings.

Free Association

In free association, patients are encouraged to say whatever comes to mind without censoring themselves. This allows them to explore the thoughts and feelings they may be unaware of or repressing. 2

Transference of Feelings

Transference occurs when patients transfer their feelings about past relationships to their therapist. This can help the therapist understand the patient’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

Countertransference of Feelings

Countertransference occurs when the therapist transfers their feelings onto the patient. This can help the therapist understand the patient’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

Identification of Ways to Avoid Distress

Patients may identify certain behaviors or thought patterns that trigger their distress. By identifying these triggers, patients can learn to avoid them.3

Questioning for Clarification

Therapists may ask questions to clarify the patient’s thoughts and feelings. This can help the therapist better understand the patient’s innermost thoughts and feelings.


Catharsis is a release of emotion. This can help patients feel better by allowing them to express their emotions in a safe and controlled environment.

Uses of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Thanks to its ability to help people explore the deep-seated roots of their problems, psychodynamic therapy can be used to effectively treat a wide range of mental health issues, including:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

After experiencing a traumatic event, many people struggle with symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive memories, nightmares, and extreme anxiety. Psychodynamic therapy can help these individuals by providing a safe space to process their trauma and understand its impact on their lives.


For people who suffer from chronic anxiety, psychodynamic therapy can provide relief by helping them understand and address the underlying causes of their anxiety. This can lead to reduced symptoms and an improved ability to cope with stressors.


Depression is often caused by negative thoughts and feelings that are buried in the subconscious mind. By bringing these thoughts and feelings to the surface, psychodynamic therapy can help people overcome depression and achieve lasting recovery.

Psychological Distress

Psychodynamic therapy can treat psychological distress caused by various factors, including unresolved trauma, relationship problems, and work-related stress. By helping people understand and address the underlying causes of their distress, this type of therapy can lead to significant improvements in mental well-being.

Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is often motivated by a need to numb difficult emotions or escape reality. Psychodynamic therapy can help addicts understand the root causes of their addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stressful situations.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are often rooted in negative body image and self-esteem issues. Through psychodynamic therapy, people with eating disorders can explore these issues and develop a more positive relationship with their bodies and themselves.

Interpersonal Problems

Many interpersonal problems, such as communication difficulties and conflict resolution, can be addressed through psychodynamic therapy. This type of therapy can help people understand the underlying causes of their interpersonal problems and develop more effective ways of dealing with them.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are often caused by deep-seated emotional issues that have not been resolved. By helping people explore these issues, psychodynamic therapy can effectively treat personality disorders and improve overall functioning.

Characteristics of Psychodynamic Therapy

There are a few key characteristics that are often seen in psychodynamic therapy; these will be detailed below.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Recognizing Patterns in Behavior and Relationships

One of the goals of psychodynamic therapy is to help people become aware of patterns in their relationships and behavior. This awareness can help people understand why they act and feel the way they do.

Exploring and Understanding Emotions

In psychodynamic therapy, people are encouraged to explore their emotions and understand how they may affect their thoughts and behavior. 4

Improving Relationships

Another goal of therapy is to help people improve their relationships with others. This may involve exploring emotions and communication styles.

What to Expect from a Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy sessions typically last for 50 minutes to an hour. You will meet with your therapist during this time to discuss the issues and concerns causing you distress.

Together, you will explore your past experiences and relationships to identify any patterns or behaviors that may be contributing to your current problems. In addition, you will work on developing new insight and understanding of yourself and your situation. Ultimately, psychodynamic therapy aims to help you feel better by resolving the underlying issues that are causing you distress.

Finding Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Treatment at Genesis Recovery

At Genesis Recovery, we offer psychodynamic therapy as part of our comprehensive treatment program for substance abuse and mental health disorders. Our experienced therapists use this therapy to help our clients explore the root causes of their addiction or mental health disorder and develop healthy coping strategies.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction or mental health disorder, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.


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