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The enduring effect of psychodynamic psychotherapy

The enduring effect of psychodynamic psychotherapy

As one of the most popular forms of talk therapy in Australia, psychodynamic psychotherapy delves into the root cause of your mental health issues. It aims to uncover the ‘why’ behind emotional distress, dissatisfaction in your life, or problems in your relationships.

This is in contrast to some other styles, notably Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is a task-based therapy that aims to replace negative thoughts with healthier ones. Both approaches have their time and place, with psychodynamic psychotherapy being particularly beneficial for individuals or couples with deep-rooted issues that stem all the way back to childhood.

The belief is that what happens early in your life affects the way you think, feel and behave, often outside of your conscious awareness. It’s an intense experience, uncovering traumas, conflicts, or losses from your past, but a highly effective one for long-lasting mental wellness.

Ultimately, psychodynamic psychotherapy aims to lead you out of the woods, empowering you to live life more fully.

In this blog, we take a deep-dive into psychodynamic psychotherapy to give you a better understanding of what it is, when it is useful, and what you can expect from a session with a psychiatrist.

The 6 defining features of psychodynamic psychotherapy

While your own journey will be unique, there are some overarching themes and patterns that define this particular type of treatment. These include:

#1 Breaking down defences

The philosophy behind psychodynamic psychotherapy is that our challenging experiences in childhood have caused us to build up walls to protect ourselves from future, similar situations. These defences can lead to emotional and psychological problems like repression, denial, and dissociation. Your psychiatrist will work with you to dismantle the walls you built long ago and find healthier ways to cope with past conflicts.

#2 Creating a robust therapeutic relationship

The relationship between psychiatrist and patient is central to effective psychodynamic psychotherapy. It can be difficult to open up and be vulnerable with a person you don’t know. The first few sessions involve you and your psychotherapist getting to know one another better, which will make it easier for you to share your thoughts, feelings, and memories.

#3 The psychological phenomenon of transference

You may be surprised to discover that your psychotherapist reminds you of someone in your own life – a parent, sibling, or close friend. This phenomenon is called transference – an unconscious pattern of reflecting problematic relationships onto your therapist as you try to better explore them.

#4 Use of free association

This is a useful tool where you discuss whatever comes to mind during your sessions, even if it seems unimportant or unlinked to your concerns. Your psychiatrist will help you discover why your mind is making these connections.

#5 Life patterns revealing themselves

Your psychotherapy sessions may reveal certain repetitive patterns in your life that are hurting you. As these become more obvious, you will develop the ability to understand why you keep behaving the same way, and find ways to break these harmful habits.

#6 Long term therapy, long lasting effects

Since psychodynamic psychotherapy is best used to treat deep and long lasting psychological issues, the process is often a long one, requiring ongoing sessions to achieve lasting positive change. But while this is not a quick fix, the hard work and dedication pays off with most psychodynamic psychotherapy patients experiencing life-long benefits from therapy.

“A psychiatrist? But I don’t need medication.”

There’s a common misconception that you only see a psychiatrist when you need psychiatric medication. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilisers, and the likes. This is untrue and our psychiatrists are working hard to change the perception around psychiatry in Sydney, Australia.

Believing that a psychiatrist always prescribes medicine is like walking into your GP clinic for a broken arm and leaving with antibiotics. Medication is not always the best treatment.

In reality, psychiatrists are trained doctors who know when medications are clinically necessary, and yes, they will write scripts in these instances. But they are also highly trained in psychological treatments, using tailored psychotherapy techniques to treat many conditions.

Typically, psychodynamic psychotherapy does not necessarily include medication. The focus is on talking, building up the psychiatrist-patient relationship to change your thinking patterns and achieve long-lasting mental health stability.

Which type of psychotherapy is right for me?

There are several different styles of psychotherapy, from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Different people and personalities, life experiences, and mental health challenges are all factors in determining which therapy is best for you as an individual. Knowing which to use is part of the specialist training your psychiatrist has undertaken.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy could be your most effective treatment if you:

  • Have trouble resolving conflicts in your life

  • Feel deep-seated resentment or disappointment

  • Have difficulty making or maintaining healthy relationships

  • Find yourself repeatedly in destructive relationships

  • Struggle with stress

  • Are lonely, depressed or anxious

  • Feel hopeless about the future

  • Want to better understand yourself and your decisions.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy relies on two main factors: your psychotherapist, and yourself. The Dolphin Tribe psychiatrists in Sydney, Australia are well qualified to be your partner on this journey, but there are a few things you need to bring to the table as well.

You need to be dedicated to this process. You should be looking for long lasting change rather than a quick fix. And you have to be prepared to encounter some emotional pain along the way.

What to expect from your therapy sessions

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a personal process, and everyone’s experience will differ slightly. But there are some common features to expect from your therapy sessions:

  • Counselling sessions last around 45-50 minutes.

  • Sessions are usually weekly, though sometimes twice a week is preferred.

  • You are urged to speak openly and honestly with your therapist.

  • Your psychiatrist will lead you in discussions about your thoughts and feelings, experiences and dreams, memories and fears, anxieties and wishes.

  • The relationship between you and your therapist will strengthen and grow as you delve into your past together.

  • You will become increasingly self-aware as you better understand how your past influences your present.

The enduring benefits of psychodynamic psychotherapy

Yes, it takes commitment and hard work, but the long lasting effects of this psychiatrist-led treatment are well worth it. Patients often find themselves with increased self-esteem, confidence, and their relationships are healthier and more satisfying. They can better cope with the ups and downs of life, and are well-equipped to handle any challenges that come their way.

Do you think this therapy sounds right for you?

If you live in Sydney, Australia and would like to learn more about psychodynamic psychotherapy at Dolphin Tribe, get in touch with us HERE.

If you have a referral from your GP or other health professional and want to book an appointment with our psychiatrist psychotherapist Dr Sangeetha Makielan, please fill out our appointment request form HERE.

Psychotherapy sessions are available via Telehealth as well.

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