Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is a type of talking therapy that can be used in the treatment of some mental health conditions. It is a very popular form of therapy.

Like other types of treatment, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy has its good and bad points. In this article, we take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

photo of head bust print artwork
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy involves examining the deep recesses of the mind

What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is a talking therapy that is closely related to Psychoanalytical psychotherapy, though combines more areas into the therapy process. This talking therapy aims to bring to light thoughts and memories in the unconscious mind. It works on the idea that past trauma is pushed to the back of the mind, with the conscious mind neglecting to process them. This may cause long-term problems though, when a person develops defence mechanisms to cope with the issues. This tends to be a shorter-term therapy than others.

Advantages of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

  • Short-term therapy: For anyone that doesn’t want to commit to a long process of therapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy can be an excellent option. As a typical course of treatment last between 6 and 15 sessions, this typically involves a commitment of 2-4 months, which can be more manageable than longer forms of therapy.
  • The evidence is good: The overall body of research that examines Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is largely positive. It seems that many people derive benefit from Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
  • Multiple conditions can be treated: Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is a very versatile therapy, and can easily be adjusted for different conditions. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is often used to treat conditions like Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Substance-related conditions and Somatic disorders.
  • Can see quick improvements: Psychodynamic Psychotherapy typically produces quick results. While it may initially take a few weeks to see change, this is still much quicker than most therapies. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy helps a patient to process their emotions in a safe environment, whilst seeing the link between their thoughts and behaviours. As a result, they can adjust their life accordingly, and hopefully see quick improvements.
  • Supportive environment: When discussing past traumas, or trying to discover them, it can be a very difficult process. But by engaging in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, a person will have access to a non-judgmental therapist, who will show empathy while attempting to help their patient with coming up with practical solutions.
  • Good coping skills are taught: Part of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy involves the patient being taught coping skills, which can help protect against a relapse in the future. Hopefully, the patient will be able to cope well with any problems in the future.

Disadvantages of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

  • Isn’t always enough time: Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is rather short in nature. But some people may benefit from longer-term treatment, especially if there are deep traumas they need help processing. They may not get the help they need in some cases due to the short-term nature of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
  • Potential for distress: Psychodynamic Psychotherapy involves talking about, or sometimes discovering, past traumas. It can be very distressing when discussing past experiences, especially if the patient is remembering them for the first time in years. A person could become angry or react unpredictably when confronted with past traumas.
  • Not always effective: Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is useful for many people, but unfortunately, it won’t work for everyone. Some people will struggle to derive any benefit from this form of therapy, and it could be a waste of time.
  • Poorly regulated: Unlike its sister therapy Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy, within reason – anyone can perform Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. While it is unlikely that an individual would come across a therapist with a hidden agenda, it is always crucial to check a therapist’s qualifications, and if possible, past reviews/testimonials. If you are going to use the NHS, this should not be a problem.
  • Not intensive enough for some: By nature, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is a type of therapy that doesn’t place an emphasis on overnight change. While changes can take place within a few weeks, it won’t be an overnight success. For those that require something more intensive, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy may not be effective for them.
  • The science of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy has been questioned: Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is based on Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. Many years have passed since his theory was developed, and some of the science has been questioned. Some suggest that Freud’s theory doesn’t take individual circumstances into account, and that people are effectively “lumped together”.

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