Counselling Ottawa

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Is this long-standing therapy for you?

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (or just Psychodynamic therapy) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a person’s present behavior. It helps to reveal the unconscious content of your mind to help alleviate emotional tension in a similar way to psychoanalysis. Psychodynamic therapy is the oldest of modern therapies and as a result is well studied and well regarded as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorders and personality disorders. Practitioners of this practice believe that one’s present-day problems are linked to unconscious conflicts arising from past events. In other words, the root of your psychological pain needs to be identified before it can be relieved. For example, maybe you have trouble forming meaningful relationships, sabotage friendships and have been suffering from depression because of it. Psychodynamic therapy can help you understand if a past event such as a parent’s divorce or early issues making friends is causing you to act this way.

Core principles

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy takes many forms and ultimately depends on the therapist practicing it. However, some core principles and commonalities include the following:
A focus on recognizing, acknowledging, understanding and expressing negative emotions- all with the goal of overcoming them.
An emphasis on unconscious conflict and its relationship to development
The view that internal representations of experiences and interpersonal relationships are closely related.
A belief that psychopathology develops from early childhood experiences
Trust in insight as critically crucial for therapy success

When it’s most useful

Psychodynamic therapy is most often used to treat depression and other long-lasting, serious psychological disorders. It’s most effective for those that have lost meaning in their lives or have difficulty forming or maintaining personal relationships. Psychodynamic therapy has also been proven useful for those with conditions such as addiction, social anxiety or eating disorders.

What to expect during a Psychodynamic therapy session

When engaging in a Psychodynamic therapy session, your therapist will encourage deep self-reflection and self-examination. Specifically, you’ll explore your past and present family and personal relationships and how they currently affect your wellbeing. Special care will be taken to explore relationships from your childhood as they are the most impactful to your current state. This exploration and hopefully, a greater understanding of your past relationships will allow you to have a better grasp on your current challenges. Your therapist will then help you develop coping techniques that can help you elevate your symptoms and reach your goals. This type of therapy, more so than other common methods rely on the interpersonal relationship between the client and the therapist. Because of this, careful consideration should be taken to ensure that you and your therapist have a good, trusting relationship.

Is there something from your past that’s holding you back? Do you have a hangup with a past experience that you just can’t shake? Do you think that Psychodynamic therapy would be helpful to you? Talk to your therapist to learn more and determine how to begin this useful therapy.

Besma (Bess) Benali, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, RSW, Counselling Ottawa Nepean. I am trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Brief Psychodynamic Therapy, ACT, and mindfulness. Clients come to me because they are struggling and feel like they are trapped in a darkness that no matter what they have tried (and many have tried therapy before) they can’t pull themselves out. I help my clients understand themselves in ways no one has ever taught them before allowing them to see positive changes.