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Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a type of psychotherapy, where the psychotherapist and client meet about once or twice a week. It is different from other systems of psychotherapy, for instance psychoanalysis or cognitive therapy in that it uses a range of different techniques, applied to the client considering his or her needs. A psychodynamic therapist may find that Object relations theory may be best for a client with Borderline Personality Disorder, and the next client who displays some anxiety in her marriage may be given some cognitive therapy to give symptom relief.


Main article: Psychodynamics

Psychodynamics was born with the 1874 publication of Lectures on Physiology by German scientist Ernst von Brucke who supposed that all living organisms are energy-systems governed by the principle of the conservation of energy. During this year, at the University of Vienna, Brucke was also coincidentally the supervisor for first-year medical student Sigmund Freud who adopted this new “dynamic” physiology. Later, the theory of psychodynamics was developed further by those such as Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Melanie Klein.


Most psychodynamic approaches are centered around the idea of a maladaptive function developed early in life (usually childhood) which are at least in part unconscious. This maladapted function (a.k.a. defense mechanism) does not do well as it formed instead of a normal/healthy one. Later on the client will feel discomfort when they notice (or do not notice) that this function causes problems day to day. The psychodynamic therapist will first treat the discomfort associated with the poorly formed function, reveal to the client that such a function exists, then change, remove or replace it with a proper one.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy involves a great deal of introspection and reflection from the client. Usually this level of insight is unfettered when the client wants to be helped or is pushed by family or friends. Speaking to this is also the client's ability to dive into their past; they must possess enough resilience and ego-strength to deal with/use the onslaught of feeling a new perspective brings. The more fragile client may be treated with a different treatment, for instance, cognitive therapy.


The "goal" of psychodynamic therapy is the experience of "truth." This "truth" must be encountered through the breakdown of psychological defenses. Simply stated: psychotherapy teaches the client to be honest. Of course, this requires considerable time, money, and effort. Individuals suffering from "psychological disorders" or deep-rooted "personality disorders," often come from confusing, manipulative, dishonest, or even violent families in childhood. Being honest with ones "feelings" is a difficult, even terrifying process for these people.

But there is a silver lining. If the patient is willing to face up to their hidden secrets: they will discover the unconscious "reason" for many of their feelings, and therefore obtain self-understanding and relief. In essence, the more honest and direct one is with his/her life, the more "symptoms" will dissolve, and the more one's childhood and defenses are understood.

See also

pl:Psychoterapia psychodynamiczna
sr:Психодинамска терапија
sv:Psykodynamisk psykoterapi
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