With so many types of therapy to choose from nowadays, how can you know which one is right for you?
Questions to ask to determine if psychodynamic therapy is for you
Are you curious about how your past affects your present?
Like other forms of modern counselling, psychodynamic therapy is concerned with your current struggles and situation. But it doesn’t stick to just this.
At the core of psychodynamic therapy is the belief that our present day life is a result of what we experienced and learned in the past.
So psychodynamic psychotherapy works to connect your choices and behaviours in life now to your childhood experiences.
Do you like the thought of diving deeply into all that you are?
Called a ‘depth’ therapy, psychodynamic therapy aims to get to the very root of your issues.
Do you want to understand your thinking as well as your hidden unconscious mind?
Psychodynamic therapy rose out of psychoanalytical theory, which focuses on the workings of the unconscious mind.
But psychodynamic therapy is different than its predecessor because it also explores the power of your conscious thinking to affect your moods and behaviour.
Do you like the idea of a therapy that is open-ended over structured?
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is less structured than other forms of therapy. There is no exact map for what will happen in each session.
Even one of the main tools of psychotherapy, ‘free association’, is open-ended. You are asked to share what randomly comes to mind without judging how logic or related the thought is.
Do you want to decide what you talk about in sessions?
As the client, you decide what the agenda is with psychodynamic therapy. You speak about what is on your mind.
Your therapist’s role is to reflect back at you what you said for clarification, then ask you good questions that help you explore further.
Are you okay with a full week in-between sessions without any ‘homework’ to do?
Some forms of therapy like psychoanalysis or Jungian psychotherapy are very rigorous, and can involve sessions several times a week. Others, like CBT, involve a substantial type of homework.
Psychodynamic tends to instead be a weekly meeting with your therapist that leaves you with free time in-between.
That said, as with all therapies and personal development work, once you start the process you tend to enter a pattern of growth that doesn’t just stop on certain days!
Are you willing to examine the conflicts in your life?
According to psychodynamic theory, most of our issues in life come from inner conflict. It might be things we don’t even realise caused us upset as we’ve hidden it all in our unconscious. Or it might be that you have turned things around with your mind to not look like a conflict, when deep down you are quite upset about it.
The process of psychodynamic therapy gives you clarity on your conflict and helps you find ways through it.
Are you okay with forming a bond of trust with your therapist, and discussing the way you relate with each other?
The way you and your therapist interact, called the “therapeutic alliance’, can be seen as a tool of growth in and of itself. Studies show that this client therapist relationship is even responsible for much of the success of therapy.
Some therapies still choose to keep quite a distance between the therapist and client, and others make the client therapist relationship the focus point of therapy.
Psychodynamic therapy could be seen as falling in the middle. It is a therapy that works to form a trusting bond between client and therapist, and the ways you relate to your therapist might be used as a exploration point for how you relate to others in your life.
Are you interested in someone else’s interpretation of what you are experiencing?
Your therapist will look for themes in the things you choose to discuss and the things that affect you.
They will ask questions that reflect their interpretation of what you are struggling with. Of course their ideas will not be personal but based on their years of studying psychotherapeutic theories.
Would you like to understand your defence mechanisms?
One of the things you’ll learn about if you try psychodynamic psychotherapy are defence mechanisms. These are ways we created of handling life that might have served us as children but now are less helpful (if ingrained habits). Defence mechanisms can include things like dissociation and projection.
Are you ready to commit to understanding yourself, no matter how long it takes?
Psychodynamic therapy is a longer term therapy. Sessions can range from a few months to several years, and requires a commitment on your behalf to both yourself and the process.
I’d like to try psychodynamic therapy but I’d like to try other types, too…. what can I do?
Try an integrative therapist. Nowadays most therapists have training in more than one school of psychotherapeutic thought and are happy to offer you a blended approach that matches your unique issues.
Harley Therapy offers psychodynamic psychotherapists and integrative therapists at three London locations, as well as worldwide via online counselling.
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