A About Psychotherapy

MariannaAdler, PhD
psychologist - psychotherapist - psychoanalyst

What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a generic category covering many different kinds of therapy including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavior Modification, Gestalt Therapy etc.  Psychodynamic psychotherapy distinguishes itself from other therapies in that it recognizes that much of our mental life goes on outside of conscious awareness while continuing to strongly influence our experience of ourselves and the world around us.  At the same time, it understands that mental well-being is influenced by unconscious conflicts, significant childhood experiences and painful feelings, which effect the individual’s development and ability to adapt effectively to new situations and relationships.

Studies from the field of infant development as well as research in the cognitive and neurosciences demonstrate that human beings are in a constant dynamic interchange with their environment.  This means that there is an inherent growth potential in all of us as we respond to new information and new circumstances.  Sometimes however our capacities for growth, change and creative adaptation get blocked or frozen due to fears, neurotic conflicts or unconscious attachments to the past. New information and new circumstances are met with the same old maladaptive responses.  Psychodynamic therapy is a process which, through supportive interventions, explorations of emotions and insight, helps a patient to once again resume the path of psychic growth.

In psychodynamic psychotherapy, therapist and patient meet regularly once or twice a week (or more).  In this setting, the patient has the chance to say whatever is on his or her mind without fear of consequences or harsh judgment.   The therapist in turn pays close attention to critical events in the patient’s life, including relationship patterns and the patient’s characteristic way of experiencing events and relationships.  Through guided self-discovery, patients gain an understanding of the reasons for their thoughts, feelings and actions and learn to deal with them in more adaptive ways.

Although everyone’s experience in psychotherapy is unique, there is strong empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy.

See “The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy” by Jonathan Shedler (published in the Journal of the American Psychological Association, Vol 65, #2, February-March 2010