19th May 2024 

What is the psychodynamic approach?

The psychodynamic approach is based on the idea that present difficulties may have their roots in the past. Early experiences and relationships may have a bearing on the way in which we experience the world and the types of relationships we form. We may, without being aware of it, have formed patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. These patterns can become, at times, unhelpful and unwanted.
Psychodynamic therapists practice a ‘talking therapy’, which largely means you talk and they listen. A therapist will listen very carefully, and without judgement. They will reflect on what you are saying, and make observations and connections between different aspects of your feelings and experiences. They will encourage you to explore underlying issues. It is an opportunity to think more deeply about yourself.

The therapist won’t give you advice nor tell you what to do, but will facilitate you in making your own choices. This can enable you to move forward, whilst bringing about lasting change.

Does psychodynamic therapy work?
There are many different models of therapy. Research suggests that the most important aspect of effective therapy is the therapeutic ‘fit’ between client and therapist. This ‘fit’ includes the trust and empathy that is needed in order to work together.

Psychodynamic therapy aims for a deeper understanding of underlying patterns and conflicts, rather than focusing solely on the relief of symptoms. Through an ongoing commitment to regular weekly sessions, there is the possibility for lasting change.

The latest research, published in the February-March 2010 issue of American Psychologist compares psychodynamic therapy to other psychological and pharmacological treatments. The study shows that in many cases psychodynamic therapies are the most effective treatment for a wide range of difficulties including depression and anxiety, panic and stress related physical ailments.

Importantly, the evidence shows that the patient improves not only during treatment, but continues to improve after treatment has ended.

How long does it take?
I work with clients on an open ended basis. This means that an end date is not agreed until the client feels ready. It could be from six months to some years. Longer term work can lead to a deeper understanding and lasting change.

I also offer brief therapy, which is usually for 12 sessions. Brief therapy can be effective in focusing on a specific situation or problem.

We will discuss which is the most suitable for you in the initial meeting.

Further Reading and Links

Dr Jonathan Shedler, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, "The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Therapy". American Psychologist, 2010

Falk Leichsenring; Sven Rabung
The Effectiveness of Long-term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

NHS Guidelines:
Treatment Choice in Psychological Therapies and Therapy