Why do people choose to study psychodynamic (or psychoanalytic) therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy is different from more cognitively based therapies in that it starts with the assumption that a person’s symptoms are an indicator of a more complex set of emotions – those that are deeply rooted and outside of their awareness. The psychodynamic psychotherapist learns to understand these unconscious factors that prevent positive change, and is able to address them and help people who are struggling to resolve their mental and emotional problems.
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is Emotional
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy incorporates a dynamic approach to treating people, a process that involves therapists using the emotions that come up in the therapy – including their own feelings – to understand phenomena such as transference, countertransference and resistance.
By allowing people to say everything – including the way they feel (which can range from hostile to loving) toward the therapist – the therapist helps people tolerate a greater range of emotions and eventually reduce their defenses, open up, and release their unconscious feelings.
A Journey Into the Unconscious
The process involves an emotional journey that people who are suffering undertake with their therapist. Therapists join people where they are emotionally and follow them through their thoughts, words and feelings until a “transference” develops. Once it does, the therapist can learn more about the person’s unconscious mental life through their joint relationship. By understanding resistances to change, and helping people resolve those resistances, the therapist can help people who are suffering liberate themselves from their recurring, negative emotional states and repetitive destructive behaviors that dominate their lives. People can experience a fuller range of feelings, be more in touch with reality, and have healthier relationships so they can go on to live a better life.