How people can benefit from psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a therapy method that facilitates a deeper understanding of mental processes, as well as patients’ emotions. The goal of the therapy is to allow patients to gain a greater understanding of how they feel, and think, and how it influences their lives. Traditionally, psychodynamic therapy involves a visit to the therapist’s office, but with the advance in technology, it is entirely possible to enroll in top rated online therapy sessions. In this article, we are going to explore what psychodynamic therapy is, its uses, how it works, its effectiveness, as well as how people can benefit from it.

What is psychodynamic therapy?

At its core, psychodynamic therapy is a form of talk therapy, on the premise that talking to a professional about your problems can help you solve your mental issues. By working with a psychodynamic therapist, patients become able to understand conflicting feelings, thoughts, and conflicts that are contributing to their behavior. The psychodynamic approach helps people understand their subconscious motivations which may influence how they act, feel, and think.

confident person, symbolizing the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy
Confidence is something that is reachable for anyone willing to work on it.

Psychodynamic therapy can also be helpful when dealing with emotional or mental distress, as well as promote insight, emotional growth, and self-reflection. By fully understanding your emotional patterns and their causes, a patient will be more capable of managing their issues and developing long-lasting coping mechanisms.

Uses of psychodynamic therapy

This therapy form is quite similar to psychoanalysis but it is much shorter in its duration. Psychodynamic therapy is utilized to deal with numerous mental conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Psychological distress
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Social anxiety disorder

As you can see, psychodynamic therapy is quite versatile. The factors that impact the treatment type include availability, cost-effectiveness, preferences of the patient, as well as the severity of the symptoms. In this regard, psychodynamic therapy is an extremely viable alternative to CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy). Today, you can receive your therapy sessions online, further enhancing the availability. Research shows that psychodynamic therapy is as effective as the best online CBT therapy when through an online medium.

How does psychodynamic therapy work?

The first part of the therapy will help the patients to identify patterns in their relationships and behavior. Most of the time, people develop their own ways of responding to problems, without being aware of how those ways negatively influence their mental health. Learning to spot and change those ways will help people find new approaches when coping with their issues.

Next, the therapy allows patients to understand their emotions better. Research shows that psychodynamic therapy helps with exploring and understanding emotions. By gaining additional insight into one’s emotions, a person is capable of recognizing dysfunctional patterns. And, in turn, capable of changing them.

Lastly, psychodynamic therapy improves relationships. In fact, relationships are a large focus of the therapy. By working with the therapist, patients are able to understand how their relationships influence their lives. It also teaches them how to respond to others.

By going through the therapeutic experience, a person can change the way their relationships work. It provides patients with the “in vivo” way of exploring, which can improve their relationships.

How effective is psychodynamic therapy?

Assessing the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy can be quite challenging. However, there is research that shows that this treatment modality is quite useful in dealing with various psychological issues. The main difficulty in evaluating its effectiveness lies in the fact that most of the changes that the therapy produces are very hard to measure. Most patients that undergo this therapy type do not have specific acute symptoms, after all. What usually happens after the therapy is that the patient undergoes subtle personality changes. And those can be quite difficult to measure correctly.

several tape measures
Measuring the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy can be quite tricky.

Despite all of this, there are numerous studies that showcase the efficacy of psychodynamic therapy. For example, a review from the American Psychologist found that the evidence heavily supports the efficacy of this treatment modality. Another study compared CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) with psychodynamic therapy and found them similarly effective. Lastly, the 2017 review by the American Journal of Psychiatry found that psychodynamic therapy was as effective as other notable treatments. However, even the authors admit that further research is necessary to figure out who benefits the most from psychodynamic therapy.

How does psychodynamic therapy work?

Usually, psychodynamic therapy sessions last for 45 minutes. In that time, you will meet with your therapist and talk about anything that might be on your mind. This includes past memories, things you are currently experiencing, or things that you are worried about. The sessions will continue for several months, and it is not uncommon for them to last for a year or longer.

There’s also the option of brief psychodynamic therapy, which produces results much faster, usually in 25 to 30 sessions. In this modality, the patients usually focus on a specific emotional area.

Benefits of psychodynamic therapy

The benefits that one gets from this treatment type are closely linked to the development of inner capacities, as well as inner resources. The therapy seeks to help patients cope with distressing and unhelpful symptoms. But it also works to strengthen patients’ inner resources and capabilities. This, in turn, leads to a higher quality of life.

While each person gets a unique set of benefits from psychodynamic therapy, there are some benefits that are more common than others, such as:

  • More satisfying relationships
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Better recognition and tolerance of one’s emotions
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Higher understanding of both self and others
  • Increased confidence in personal abilities
  • Becoming able to face difficulties and issues more easily

Satisfying relationships

By undergoing psychodynamic therapy, patients learn how their emotions, as well as those of others, influence relationships. By understanding how people react to various emotional stimuli, the patient is able to correct unhelpful behavior, as well as how to focus on helpful behavior.

a couple on a bicycle
Through therapy, people can learn how to foster healthy relationships.

Relationships heavily influence our lives, and they may be an underlying problem for many mental conditions. Psychodynamic therapy has modalities that target relationships specifically. If the therapist concludes that relationships are the root of the issue, they may recommend following through with an emotionally-focused treatment type.

Increased self-esteem

Many people struggle to realize just exactly how much they are worth. By undergoing psychodynamic therapy, patients are able to understand why they may think lower of themselves and how to correct that way of thinking. Furthermore, by learning about helpful behavior and how it can influence relationships, patients can produce much better results in their interactions. This leads to higher self-esteem, as the patient’s efforts are visibly rewarded.

The therapist will work with the patient to identify the emotions which contribute to lower self-esteem and help correct them. This is a lengthy process, however, and improvements come slowly, over time. But most patients experience that they hold themselves in much higher esteem after the therapy is over.

Better recognition and tolerance of one’s emotions

Psychodynamic therapy offers an excellent way for patients to recognize which emotions are interfering in their daily lives. By talking to a therapist, a person can fully understand how their emotions work and what they can do to rectify any unhelpful behavior. Also, by recognizing the influence the emotions have, the patient will be able to tolerate even unhelpful emotions much better. We can’t go against who we are, after all, but we can work towards improving our quality of life. And this is exactly what psychodynamic therapy helps patients achieve. It is an excellent way to get in touch with your emotions, so to speak, learn from them and rectify any unwanted behavior.

Another benefit of being able to recognize emotions within yourself is that you will also be able to do so with others. By having more empathy toward another person, you can create stable, long-lasting relationships, as well as improve existing ones.

Increased self-confidence

The main goal of psychodynamic therapy is to allow individuals to better themselves. And by bettering themselves, patients gradually become more confident in their own actions. Talking to the therapist will identify key emotional issues that may lead to low self-confidence, and offer ways to improve it. Over time, the patients who undergo this therapy will feel that they are progressing toward a better self. While the change might not be readily apparent, almost every patient sees a large improvement once the therapy sessions are over.

"believe and love yourself" written on a piece of paper
Sometimes, all you need is positive reinforcement.

For best results, one might want to combine psychodynamic therapy with other forms of therapy, such as medications. The therapist will know what is best for the patient after spending some time talking to them. There are also other methods that can complement the therapy, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and similar. But they all vary from person to person and it is the therapist’s job to recommend what is best for the patient.

Higher understanding of self and others

As human beings, we are sometimes “ruled” by our emotions. By undergoing psychodynamic¬†therapy, the patient slowly becomes capable of understanding how our emotions influence our actions. This higher understanding usually leads to a more fulfilling life, as the patient is able to “connect the dots” that they did not know to exist by that point. Furthermore, the same principles that can be applied to oneself can be applied to others, too. When you figure out how emotions influence you, you will be able to see the emotional patterns that others exhibit, as well. This means that you can make decisions and choices that can have a greater positive effect on both yourself and others.

Increased confidence in personal abilities

Another great benefit of psychodynamic therapy is that it provides patients with a greater degree of competence when it comes to emotions. Knowledge is power, after all. And having that “power” usually makes one feel quite confident. Again, this increase in confidence is not something that happens overnight. To achieve competence, practice and training are required. Your therapist will provide you with all the necessary knowledge, but it is up to you to put the theory into practice. The more time you spend with something, the better you become at it. Most people, however, tend to give up after not seeing any immediate improvements. This is a grave mistake as every beginning is inevitably hard.

Like everything else in our lives, psychodynamic therapy gives more and more results the longer you stick to it. You might not be able to “feel” any difference even after several sessions but that is due to the fact that your therapist is “laying down the groundwork”. Most of the initial sessions are more analytical in nature, in fact, as the therapist is trying to get a complete picture of the patient. But after a while, your therapist will be able to come up with concrete solutions. And that is where true results will start to show.

Becoming able to face difficulties and issues more easily

Another focus point of psychodynamic therapy is to allow patients to cope better. We all face difficulties in our lives and may need a way to manage them. This therapy type provides the patients with such an opening. You and your therapist, over time, will work to find solutions that are unique to you. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to psychodynamic therapy. Every patient is unique, and they require a specific approach. The beauty of this therapy type is that it is capable of providing help and support to almost anyone.

While psychodynamic therapy was originally invented to combat depression, it is now utilized to help with many mental issues. The power of thoughts and emotions is undeniable, and by learning how they interact with our lives, patients become capable of solving their issues practically on their own. There is a lot more to this treatment modality, however. If you want to know more about psychodynamic therapy and its varieties, you can read all about them in the Consumer Opinion Guide. We have articles that cover all the segments of this treatment type, as well as a detailed breakdown of some of the best companies that offer it.

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