What is Psychodynamic Counseling?
Psychodynamic counseling was developed from psychoanalytic therapy and based on Sigmund Freud’s work. It is an interpretation of the mental and emotional processes. Psychodynamic counseling attempts to address the root and development of psychological processes to reduce symptoms and improve the patient’s overall life. During psychodynamic counseling, the therapist will help the individual gain awareness into their lives and current issues. They will also evaluate patterns in emotions, thoughts, early-life experiences, and beliefs people develop over time. These patterns can help the person see how they avoid stress or develop defense mechanisms to cope in order to change them.
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Through psychodynamic therapy, patients can identify important aspects that make them who they are and rearrange them in ways that allow them to develop a more functional and positive sense of self. This can also include helping the individual understand how repressed emotions from the past affect current relationships, behaviors, and decision making.
Through life experiences, people will develop defense mechanisms that may keep painful memories, feelings, and experiences in the unconscious. Common defense mechanisms include repression, rationalization, and denial. Psychodynamic therapists encourage patients to speak freely about their desires, fears, and emotions to help reveal feelings the person is not consciously aware of and is influencing their behavior. Once the person processes painful feelings, defense mechanisms can be reduced or stopped.
The patient therapist relationship is highly important in psychodynamic therapy. It can reveal how the patient interacts with their friends, family, and other loved ones. Transference in therapy is also used to show how early-life relationships affect the person today. Transference is when a patient redirects their feelings for someone, such as a parent, toward the therapist. It can help the person understand their part in relationship patterns and help them transform the dynamic.
Examples of Psychodynamic Counseling
Psychodynamic therapy sessions can be quite intense. Counseling sessions are open-ended and led through the patient’s free association rather than a set schedule or agenda. Typically, hour sessions are scheduled once a week and usually put the therapist and client face-to-face. The therapist will encourage the patient to talk freely about whatever is on their mind. As the therapist notices recurring patterns in thoughts and feelings, they will probe deeper to find what is in the unconscious mind. They may ask into the client’s past to discuss childhood and early life experiences as they may have a significant impact on the person’s current issues. In general, the therapist will bridge the connection between the person’s past experiences and current problems and guide them on how to address these problems.
While this is generally what you can expect, psychodynamic therapy is more a category of therapies rather than a single type. Some types of psychodynamic counseling are:
- Brief Psychodynamic Therapy. This type of counseling is conducted over a few sessions, sometimes even just one, and is intended for acute issues. The person may be struggling with a specific problem and only needs to make a few important connections to overcome it. Brief psychodynamic therapy can be applied to situations such as an accident, acute anxiety or depression, traumatic family event, rape, or an act of terrorism.
- Psychodynamic Art/Music Therapy. This form of psychodynamic therapy involves exploring and addressing feelings through art or music. Artistic or musical talent is not required. Patients will use art or music to talk about the emotions they evoke, connect them to childhood events, or discuss the meaning they find in these pieces. It can help individuals communicate better and more deeply than talking alone. Music and art therapy can evolve either by creating it or listening/looking at it.
- Psychodynamic Family Therapy. The context of a family is broad, it can be composed of siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren, parent and child(ren), or a couple in a romantic relationship. It focuses on unconscious processes and unresolved conflicts in the context of family relationships. It aims for healthier and happier family dynamics by addressing deep seated issues that have contributed to family problems.
While psychodynamic therapy relies less on activities and exercises compared to other types of therapy, it still uses some very important tools to help therapists dig deep into the unconscious mind. Some common practices used in psychodynamic therapy include:
- Free Association. The technique encourages patients to speak freely about issues in their lives and aims to access the unconscious mind. The therapist will be looking for repeating patterns, symbols, and memories among free floating thoughts. It is used to increase the patient’s self-understanding.
- Freudian Slip. Less commonly used, however, psychodynamic therapists may pay special attention to slips that occur in session and can find meaning in the word substitution. They may find that the slip is actually a little piece of the unconscious mind finding its way to the surface.
- Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM). The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM) was released in 2006 as an alternative to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as a way to include more subjective experiences as a criterion for diagnosis.
- Rorschach Inkblots. Many therapists find that inkblot tests can provide valuable qualitative information about how this client is feeling and how they think. It has also been used as an effective tool for the diagnosis of thinking disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
When is the Psychodynamic Approach Appropriate?
Michael dynamic therapy is useful for anyone suffering from any type of mental health disorder but is primarily used to treat anxiety and depression. It is also used for those who have lost meaning in their lives and have difficulty making or keeping personal relationships. Some conditions psychodynamic therapy can treat include:
- Personality disorders such as Borderline Personality disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic Disorders
- Social anxiety disorder
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse and other addictions
- Continual feelings of sadness and isolation
While cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective and popular approach to several mental health disorders, evidence suggests that cycle dynamic therapy can be just as effective for many of these conditions.
Find Psychodynamic Counseling and More at The Detox Center of L.A.
Psychodynamic counseling is one of the many types of addiction treatment we use at The Detox Center of Los Angeles. This type of individual therapy can be highly effective in treating underlying issues of substance abuse and addiction and is an important step in relapse prevention. Patients will work through their emotions, unresolved conflicts, dysfunctional relationships, and much more with their therapist. By resolving events and feelings, patients can reduce triggers related to emotions that have caused them to turn to drugs or alcohol in the past. Psychodynamic counseling can also help address the root reasons why the individual uses drugs and alcohol and provide a way to manage that impulse.
Our personalized treatment plans at The Detox Center are made up of several types of individual and group counseling sessions. Psychodynamic counseling may be used as part of your program along with other types of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma informed therapy, and much more. What treatments you receive will be based on your individual needs and how you respond to therapy. We provide treatment programs aimed at helping you heal from the cause of your addiction, and the effects of addiction, and provide skills and tools needed to manage recovery on your own successfully.
If you would like more information on our treatment programs or are ready to start recovery, please call us anytime day or night.