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Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in the client’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are client self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior.

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of talk therapy that has proven effective in helping people dealing with depression, anxiety, pain, and relationship issues. Rooted in traditional psychoanalysis, it draws from object relations, ego psychology, and self psychology. It was developed as a simpler, less-lengthy alternative to psychoanalysis.

The psychodynamic approach includes all the theories in psychology that view human functioning based upon the interaction of drives and forces within the person, particularly the unconscious, and between the different structures of the personality. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis was the original psychodynamic theory, but the psychodynamic approach as a whole includes other concepts that were built on Freud’s ideas, including those of Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Alfred Adler, Anna Freud, and Erik Erikson.

Psychodynamic therapy is primarily used to treat depression, especially in those who have lost a sense of meaning in their lives and have difficulty forming or maintaining personal relationships. Other effective applications of psychodynamic therapy include social anxiety disorder, eating disorders, problems with pain, relationship difficulties, among others. The goal is to experience a remission of symptoms and also to derive such benefits as increased self-worth, better use of a client’s talents and abilities, and an improved capacity for maintaining more satisfying relationships.

With help from the therapist, the client is encouraged to speak freely about anything that comes to mind, including current difficulties, fears, desires, dreams, and fantasies. When a client transfers feelings about a spouse or a parent onto the therapist, the client can learn how they may be affected by that particular outside intimate relationship. The client may transfer feelings of hostility, adoration, or any number of emotions. This may reveal their own patterns of behavior and how to address them.

Therapists Who Specialize in Psychodynamic Therapy

Valarie Smith | LCSW
Valarie Smith
Nyambura Kihato | LPC
Nyambura Kihato
Melissa Kulick | Ph.D.
Melissa Kulick
Lisa Anyan Smith | Ph.D.
Lisa Anyan Smith
Hunter Sandifer | LPC
Hunter Sandifer
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