Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic Therapy

What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy delves deep into the subconscious mind to identify and comprehend the root causes of our behaviours and emotions. 

Unlike therapies focusing solely on eliminating symptoms, psychodynamic therapy explores the intricate connection of our inherent needs, desires, and past experiences.

While some therapeutic approaches target specific problems, psychodynamic therapy offers a broader lens, examining the entire landscape of one’s psyche. 

It works around the idea of connecting the dots, tracing patterns in our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. Often, these patterns originate in childhood – an important time in shaping our adult psyche and experience.

The essence of psychodynamic therapy is insight. By recognising these patterns, clients can gain a profound understanding of their present self.  

Sessions are flexible and client-centred. Instead of a rigid structure, clients are encouraged to share freely, allowing the Singaporean therapist to probe and uncover recurring themes from the unconscious mind. 

Psychodynamic therapy is usually used to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

How Does It Work?

Psychodynamic therapy is rooted in the belief that early childhood experiences shape unconscious drives and influence our behaviour. 

The therapy aims to explore these hidden motivations. Doing so offers a clearer understanding of one’s actions and emotions.

At the heart of this therapy lies the relationship between the therapist and the client. The therapist-client bond serves as a safe environment for clients to confront and understand their deepest feelings and memories. 

A significant aspect of this relationship is ‘transference’. Here, clients might project feelings related to other relationships onto the Therapist in Singapore. Recognising and addressing this transference is important, as it offers insights into unresolved conflicts.

It is worth noting that psychodynamic psychotherapy is not a quick fix. While short-term sessions might span 25-30 sessions over 6-8 months, long-term engagements could extend beyond a year. 

The frequency of therapy sessions will vary among everyone, depending on their particular issues and requirements.

However, the rewards can be transformative for those willing to delve deep and confront their innermost thoughts. Whether you are an individual, a couple, or part of a family, this approach offers a path to deeper self-awareness and personal development

3 Psychodynamic Therapy Techniques

Psychodynamic therapy uses several tools and techniques that allow the therapist to explore their clients’ unconscious and subconscious thoughts and feelings. 

The five techniques below are some of the common ones used during psychodynamic therapy. 

1. Transference

Transference is a phenomenon where feelings, desires, and expectations from one’s past are projected onto a present-day person or situation.

The first step in addressing transference is identifying its origin. This technique delves deep into the client’s past, tracing back to initial relationships or situations that might have moulded their current reactions. 

For instance, a person who felt neglected by their parents might experience similar feelings in their current relationship

By revisiting these past experiences, therapists can help rationalise patterns in behaviour and guide the client to recognise and address the issue.

Interpreting the Transference

Here, the focus is on a person’s emotions and reactions towards the therapist. By keenly observing and analysing the person’s behaviour, therapists can draw parallels with past relationships or experiences. 

For example, a person’s strong reaction to a perceived judgemental comment from the therapist might be projecting feelings from a past relationship, like a judgemental parent (eg parents who gaslight).

The next step is to clarify and confront the thought patterns, and the technique is more direct. Therapists gently confront clients about their feelings and reactions, guiding them to differentiate between past and present emotions. 

If a client is overly compliant, mirroring their behaviour with a demanding parent from their past, the therapist will address the issue straightforwardly. 

Confrontation helps the client differentiate between past traumas and present interactions.

Also See: How Trauma Affects Physical Health

Transference is a continuous and collaborative process. Both the therapist and client work together to address and resolve transference issues. 

2. Freudian Slip

The Freudian Slip technique offers a fascinating insight into the human mind. Known formally as ‘parapraxes’, a Freudian slip is usually an accidental revelation of deeper, often concealed, thoughts or emotions.

For example, imagine you are at a family gathering, and instead of calling your cousin by his name, you blurt out your brother’s name. A therapist might interpret this as a sign of underlying sibling rivalry or a deep-seated desire for a closer bond with your brother. 

Freud, the pioneer of this technique, said that these seemingly trivial errors are windows into the unconscious mind. According to him, nothing we do or say is without reason. 

Every gesture, word, or even mistake is a manifestation of our conscious, subconscious, or unconscious thoughts shaped by our experiences. 

You May Like Reading: Middle Child Syndrome

In psychodynamic therapy, online Singaporean therapists are trained to pick up on these slips. When a client makes a Freudian slip, the therapist delves deeper, exploring the hidden associations or desires that might have led to that particular error. 

The method identifies and addresses unresolved conflicts, desires, or traumas. 

3. Dream Analysis

Dream analysis, rooted in the teachings of Sigmund Freud, remains an important tool of psychodynamic therapy. 

While its scientific validation might be a topic of debate, its potential to explore the subconscious mind is undeniable.  

Dream analysis is meticulously examining dream content to explore the underlying emotions, desires, and conflicts. It is similar to decrypting a coded message from the subconscious mind. 

By analysing dreams, psychologists aim to bridge the gap between the conscious and unconscious states and offer insights that might otherwise remain hidden.

How Does Dream AnalysisT Work?

Manifest vs. Latent Content: The first step involves distinguishing between manifest and latent content. The manifest content is the tangible, remembered part of the dream – the storyline, characters, and emotions. 

In contrast, latent content delves deeper, revealing hidden meanings and suppressed feelings. For instance, a dream about flying might manifest a desire for freedom (manifest content; direct, surface-level interpretation of the dream about flying) but could also signify a latent need to escape from current life pressures.

The therapist plays an important role in guiding the person through their dream. By posing probing questions, they help the person recall and articulate their dream in vivid detail. 

Collaborative exploration with the therapist often leads to epiphanies and revelations about the person’s inner world. 

For example, consider a dream where one is being chased. The manifest content is the act of being pursued. However, the latent content might reveal feelings of vulnerability, past traumas, or fears of facing certain life situations. 

By discussing and dissecting the dream, the person might realise that they are running away from a particular emotion or situation in their life.

Types of Psychodynamic Therapy

Brief Psychodynamic Therapy

Brief psychodynamic therapy often spans just a few sessions. It is tailored for individuals struggling with specific challenges and aims to identify underlying issues. 

For example, consider a person experiencing sudden, unexplained pangs of anxiety, or feeling emotional all the time. Therapists might help them identify a triggering event and create coping mechanisms to help with issues in a single session.

However, it is essential to note that not every issue can be resolved so quickly. Brief psychodynamic therapy is beneficial for circumstances such as:

  • Experiencing trauma from events like accidents or acts of terrorism
  • Sudden psychological disturbances, eg anxiety or depression
  • Family-related traumas, like unexpected revelations or separations

See: How Long Does Grief Last

Psychodynamic Family Therapy

Psychodynamic Family Therapy is a long-term commitment that helps with understanding family dynamics. 

The therapy addresses chronic family issues. The core elements of psychodynamic family therapy lie in exploring unconscious processes and conflicts within the family structure. 

Therapists guide families in revisiting their histories and helping them identify traumatic events. For example, some people may feel like their mom hates them when, in reality, their mother may be dealing with some sort of distress or a communication gap. 

A unique aspect is the emphasis on adults resolving disputes with their parents to better understand their current familial ties. 

Psychodynamic Art / Music Therapy

Psychodynamic Art/Music Therapy uses the power of creative expression. Clients use art or music as emotional outlets regardless of their artistic abilities. 

The therapy remains unstructured, allowing clients the freedom to steer sessions. Clients can engage in art therapy either in person or online. The benefits of online counselling can help you attend therapy from anywhere. 

The therapist might show specific artworks or songs, observe the emotions they stir in the client, or even create new art with the client during the session. 

The objective is not to produce great artwork but to communicate feelings authentically. Art therapy is a great alternative for individuals who find verbal communication challenging or those overwhelmed by intense emotions.

Long-Term Psychodynamic Therapy

As the name suggests, Long-Term Psychodynamic Therapy often extends beyond two years. 

Research indicates its efficacy in treating a spectrum of mental health conditions, including:

Furthermore, it is particularly beneficial for people with depression who do not find help from other treatments.

Conditions Psychodynamic Therapy Can Help With

Below is a non-exhaustive list of conditions you can overcome through psychodynamic therapy:

  • Depression: This therapeutic approach helps individuals identify and address deep-rooted thought and behaviour patterns contributing to their depressive states.
  • Social Anxiety and Phobias: Research indicates that psychodynamic therapy can effectively reduce social anxiety symptoms and help develop better social connections.
  • Anorexia Nervosa: Implementing psychodynamic strategies has been linked to increased recovery rates for those affected by eating disorders like anorexia nervosa.
  • Chronic Pain: Individuals experiencing unexplained, particularly abdominal pain, have found relief through this therapeutic method.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): A structured and closely monitored psychodynamic treatment has proven beneficial in managing symptoms of BPD.

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