Psychodynamic Therapy treats psychological ill health through focusing on unconscious processes and how they manifest in a person’s present behaviour. It has its origins in psychoanalytic theory, first formulated by Freud, which states that everyone has an unconscious which holds and harbours painful and vulnerable feelings which are too difficult for the person to be consciously aware of. In order to keep painful experiences unconscious, people develop defence mechanisms, such as denial, repression, and projection. According to psychodynamic theory these defences cause more harm than good.
The aim of treatment is to help clients become aware of, and experience, their vulnerable feelings which have been pushed out of conscious awareness. Through understanding and gaining insight into deep-seated and often unconsciously based emotional and relationship problems, the client will experience a reduction in symptoms of psychological distress.
Few practising professionals today practise an exclusive form of psychodynamic therapy. However, many therapists use components of psychodynamic theories in their formulation of a client’s issues, while employing other types of psychological techniques (such as cognitive-behavioural and mindfulness techniques) in order to effect change in the client.