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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

What is psychodynamic therapy
What is Psychodynamic Therapy?: Everything You Need to Know

According to this report, psychodynamic therapy can have as much as a 1.8 effect size. This therapy option is more effective than general psychotherapy. It’s also more helpful than antidepressant medications for various disorders.

Psychodynamic therapy can help treat depression, schizophrenia, and other conditions. What is psychodynamic therapy, though, and how does it help?

With this guide, you’ll learn all about psychodynamics. Discover how it can help any professional in the Los Angeles area.

Keep reading for your in-depth guide to psychodynamic therapy.

What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Let’s start with the question you’re asking yourself.

What exactly what is psychodynamic therapy?

Chances are you’re already a little familiar with the concept. It pops up in television shows and movies from time to time.

This therapy option focuses on unconscious processes.

It’s also known as insight-oriented therapy.

The goal is to aid a patient’s self-awareness. That way, they can understand how the past influences their present. 

The psychodynamic approach allows us to examine our unresolved conflicts.

These conflicts remain from past relationships or situations. This can cause us to turn towards self-destructive behaviors. That includes substance abuse. 

The question “what is psychodynamic therapy” goes all the way back to Freud. His psychoanalysis is a subset of psychodynamic therapy.

Therapists use psychodynamic therapy less often. It’s also conducted over a shorter period of time.

Today, contemporary therapists are adapting this therapy.

That way, therapists can use it for more specific conditions and disorders.  

When is it Used?

Now that we’ve answered “what is psychodynamic therapy,” let’s discuss its specific uses.

Therapists use this treatment option for patients with depression or other psychological disorders.

It’s also used when people feel they’ve lost meaning in their lives. Do you have a difficult time forming and maintaining personal relationships? Psychodynamic therapy can help.

According to this research, long-term psychodynamic therapy was effective in reducing depression scores. In fact, it was more effective than fluoxetine alone. This study spanned for 24 months with 272 depressed patients.

Psychodynamic therapy was also effective with anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and somatic problems.

It also demonstrated the ability to treat drug dependence (depending on the drug). The study proved that psychodynamic therapy could help drug users maintain abstinence. This could help reduce psychiatric morbidity.

This treatment also helps psychosis patients with personality disorders, schizophrenia, and mental illness.

What to Expect from the Psychodynamic Approach

A therapist will first encourage you to speak about anything that comes to mind.

This includes current issues, dreams, fantasies, fears, and/or desires.

The initial goal is to feel a remission of your symptoms. This can help you increase self-esteem. It also creates an improved capacity for developing strong relationships. 


As you speak with your therapist, they will direct you to acknowledge your emotions.

Unlike problem-based therapies, psychodynamic therapy has a holistic focus on the client’s perspective. Instead of focusing on behavior, this therapy option interprets mental and emotional processes.

That way, you can discover a pattern in your emotions and thoughts. Using the past, clients can gain insight into their present selves. 

These patterns might reoccur in relationships, emotions, and behaviors. Recognizing these patterns can teach you how to break the loop. Instead of using self-defeating habits, you’ll have the skills to maneuver these obstacles.

As a result, you’ll develop greater freedom and control over your life.


Sometimes, we react to distressing thoughts and feelings by avoiding them.

Psychodynamic therapy will help you determine when you’re avoiding your problems and emotions.

This self-awareness can help you adapt and react to emotional situations. That way, you know how to handle stressors when they arise. 

With each session, you’ll develop internal psychological resources. These resources can help you in the future. You will also develop a stronger capacity for dealing with your emotions.

That way, you can confront psychological issues before they can cause emotional suffering. 

Psychodynamic therapy also believes that early life experiences can influence development. That means you should expect to explore your childhood memories, too. 

Then, you can determine who you are to create a more positive image of yourself.

These therapy appointments will likely last an hour at least once a week.

Patients can also choose between short-term therapy (under a year) or long-term therapy.

How It Works

The goals of psychodynamic therapy are to:

  • Improve your self-awareness
  • Help you understand your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs based on past experiences

Your therapist will guide you. Together, you’ll examine the unresolved conflicts and major events throughout your life. 

Then, you will understand your emotional response to these conflicts. This can help you explore these situations with a new perspective. 

Psychodynamic therapy assumes a person’s chronic problems remain in the unconscious mind. For you to experience catharsis, you need to bring these conflicts into the light.

Only then can you experience self-awareness.

With this new self-awareness, you can recognize the patterns of how you think and react. Then, you can use these patterns to develop healthier reactions in the future. 

According to this research, psychodynamic therapy offers patients with lasting benefits. In fact, many patients continued to improve even after their treatment ended. 

Psychodynamics & Relationships

Psychodynamic therapy depends on the relationship between the therapist and the patient. 

Your therapist will note how you react during your sessions. This will tell them how you react, interact, and feel in other relationships.

How you respond to people in your life often emerges in your relationship with a therapist. This is also known as transference. 

Many psychological difficulties result from how we interact with others. In psychodynamic therapy, you’ll learn how to recognize these difficulties. That way, you can determine healthier ways to resolve or cope with these issues. 

What Is Psychodynamic Therapy: Your Guide

With this guide, you can answer the question “what is psychodynamic therapy?” Now you can determine if this is the treatment option that’s right for you.

Discover the therapies and treatments we have available for professionals in Los Angeles.

Get your life back on track and improve your quality of life today.

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