Have you ever wondered:
why do I act the way I do?
why am I attracted to certain people?
why do I engage in self destructive behaviours?
who am I and what do I want?
If you have, chances are you will benefit from Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
Who is it recommended for
My clients often start therapy with a very specific problem they want to address. They might suffer from panic attacks, have intrusive thoughts, or have a history of self-harm. Sometimes they come to therapy after having received a specific diagnosis from their GP or perhaps, in more severe cases, a psychiatrist. Other times, however, clients come to therapy because they've been feeling empty and unemotional for a long time and they no longer seem to be able to enjoy what they have. Whatever the problem that brings you to therapy my main goal will be to assist you in exploring the reasons for your struggles and guide you in finding your own way to overcome them so you can feel authentic and satisfied.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a form of therapy that aims to resolve a vast array of emotional difficulties, from mild to severe. These include anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, self-harm, panic attacks, OCD and intrusive thoughts, self-destructive behaviours, difficulties in relating to others, mood swings, co-dependency behaviours, avoidant relational styles, personality disorders, boarding school syndrome, loss and complicated grief, adjusting to parenthood, identity crisis, issues around sexuality.
What's psychodynamic therapy?
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is an evidence-based form of treatment widely recognised as an effective psychological intervention in treating most emotional difficulties, from mild to severe.
From a historical point of view, it has its roots in the psychoanalytic teachings of Sigmund Freud, Donald Winnicott, Melanie Klein, among the classic thinkers, and more modern teachers such as Heinz Kohut, Christopher Bollas and Neville Symington, to mention just a few. Despite the differences in approaches and techniques, all psychoanalytic and psychodynamic practitioners share the belief that we don't always know why we do the things that we do, and much of our mental life happens behind the scenes and out of awareness. This belief makes it a particularly useful intervention in helping a client make sense of a self-destructive behaviour or where their distress is coming from.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is also founded on the belief that our mental life is built over time and therefore all the experiences we have accrued in life pay a role in the present distress. However, contrary to pop culture stereotyping, a psychodynamic psychotherapist doesn't focus solely on the relationship you had with mum and dad, and they don't make you lie on a couch (although some clients do find lying down comfortable and more conducive to inner exploration).
Put very simply, psychodynamic therapy is about discovering what lies beneath the distress one presents with and its aim is to delve deep into the root cause of the problem, in order to provide long-lasting benefits. Research shows that people who engage in this form of therapy continue to improve well after treatment has stopped, and so while not providing immediate relief it might be worth considering when other, quicker, approaches have failed.
Is this therapy different from counselling?
There are many definitions out there trying to establish the difference between counselling and psychotherapy. Most psychotherapeutic counsellors are trained to work within both approaches and in my experience counselling might be indicated for someone who wants to address a specific problem, while psychotherapy is more indicated for those emotional difficulties that are somewhat more abstract (it's difficult to pinpoint when they started, and why). For instance, a pattern of not being able to feel safe and loved in relationships might require a more psychotherapeutic intervention, so would a generalised anxiety diagnosis. On the other hand, a client might want to explore why they get nervous speaking in public while feeling all other areas of their life are working well - in this case I would say counselling might be more indicated.
In practical terms, both counselling and psychotherapy can take place once weekly (although psychotherapy can be attended more often, depending on the needs of the client), with psychotherapy tending to last longer and requiring more commitment.