Psychodynamic Therapy in Halifax
Psychodynamic therapy is an umbrella term for therapies that generally emphasize: the dynamic interaction of conscious and unconscious processes, implicit emotion, and the relevance of early family environments in shaping personality. However one should not to confuse psychodynamic therapy, with psychoanalysis – a very specific form of dynamic therapy developed by Freud. Examples of psychodynamic schools of therapy include, but are not limited to:
- Time Limited Dynamic Psychotherapy (TLDP)
- Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)
- Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (STDP)
- Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP)
An important concept among dynamic therapies is that of a defense mechanism. Defensive mechanisms refer to the capacity of the mind/body to deny or distort a situation or event, in order to avoid associated thoughts and feelings that might prove overwhelming. Defense mechanisms operate entirely outside of our awareness. Examples include: denial, repression, and intellectualization.
Psychotherapist: “How did you feel about your mother dying?”
Patient: “Well, she was old. Everybody dies, so it was not entirely unexpected, I suppose.”
The above response suggests that this patient is engaging in the defense mechanism of intellectualization. Notice that the therapist asked how the patient felt. The patient avoided responding with a feeling, and instead offered their thoughts. While this may help them avoid the distressing feeling, habitual intellectualization will typically result in a number of other symptoms (e.g. chronic anxiety, depression).
An underlying assumption of psychodynamic therapy is that the client’s issues are often caused by conflicted or unprocessed emotion. The dynamic therapist is thus an expert at identifying possible signs of conflict or avoidance (e.g. anxiety or defense mechanisms), and will keep clients focused on their therapy goals by helping them notice avoidance as it occurs in session. If this causes discomfort, the therapist will help clients regulate their anxiety before inviting them to explore the issue in more depth. The above process eventually leads to an emotional breakthrough, providing significant relief from anxiety and suffering.
Psychodynamic therapists focus on the here and now relationship. The emphasis is less about rational thinking, than improving emotional experience, expression, and interpersonal difficulties. The assigning of homework and teaching of cognitive coping strategies is typically avoided, since it tends to encourage intellectualization, which can make the therapeutic task more difficult.
Research has shown that psychodynamic therapy is highly effective for treating chronic anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic issues. Our Halifax Psychologists take an integrated approach to therapy, are familiar with Psychodynamic Therapy, and will choose an approach to best suit the client in relation to their presenting concerns and therapeutic goals.