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Psychodynamic Therapy


Psychodynamic therapy aims to help clients become aware of and experience their vulnerable feelings which have been pushed out of conscious awareness. The psychodynamic approach states that everyone has an unconscious which holds and harbors painful and vulnerable feelings which are too difficult for the person to be consciously aware of. In order to keep painful feelings, memories, and experiences in the unconscious, people tend to develop defense mechanisms, such as denial, repression, rationalization, and others. According to psychodynamic theory, these defenses cause more harm than good and that once the vulnerable or painful feelings are processed the defense mechanisms reduce or resolve.

Core Principles of Psychodynamic Therapy

There are several core principles of psychodynamic therapy, and the emphasis rests on the examination and resolution of inner conflicts. Additionally, this type of therapy assists the client in gaining a perspective of pure insight in order to recognize the character traits, actions, responses, and behaviors that will be transformed.

Maladaptive Behavior and Psychodynamic Therapy Approaches

Many of the approaches used in psychodynamic therapy revolve around the idea that there is an element of maladaptive behavior in effect. Although it is unconscious at times, it is nevertheless still present. The assumption of maladaption is constructed and formed at a very early stage in a person’s life and ultimately causes disharmony in the experiences that they encounter on a daily basis. This form of therapy strives to uncover the underlying conflicts that are the catalysts for the disturbing and unhealthy symptoms. The first technique the therapist employs is that of the intervention in order to address the symptom that resulted from the maladaptive behavior. Once this has occurred, the therapist can then work with the client to devise and construct elements of change that can be implemented.

Psychodynamic Therapy Methods

Some of the common methods used in psychodynamic therapy include: 

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  • transference and resistance
  • free association
  • the process of addressing difficult and challenging memories, issues, and functions in order to develop a cohesive and supportive therapeutic relationship

Psychodynamic Music Therapy

One approach to psychodynamic therapy is psychodynamic music therapy. This innovative and creative form of therapy involves exploration of various instruments, including guitars, drums, pianos, and others. Music therapy is non-directive and the client does not need to have any musical inclination. Instead, he is encouraged to experiment and express himself through the music in any way that he feels inclined. It is through the music that the client introduces himself to the therapist. Music therapists are highly trained to be able identify and recognize various personality traits and emotional issues based on how the client creates the music. As they build their therapeutic alliance, the client and therapist can both participate in the music making as a method for strengthen their bond and accessing deeper tools of communication. For clients with heightened states of anxiety or fear, the musical can provide a soothing and necessary backdrop, or element of release, during difficult therapeutic sessions. 

Who Developed Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy has too many developers and innovators to name here! Early originators include Ernst von Brucke, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Melanie Klein, W.R.D. Fairbairn, D.W. Winnicott, Harry Guntrip, Heinz Kohut, John Bowlby, Anna Freud, Karen Horney, Erik Erikson, and Erich Fromm.

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Last updated: 04-01-2014


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