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Psychodynamic Therapy

What’s Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy is a kind of talk therapy. This means that it's based on the idea that discussing problems can help individuals gain the necessary insights they need in order to resolve them.

Experiences in our past have lasting effects on our minds' conscious and unconscious parts. That's why during a psychodynamic therapy counseling session, you and your psychotherapist will seek to understand how your childhood experiences continue to affect you today.

Your therapist might have you talk about your earliest memories to gain insight into how you feel about yourself and the world around you. You'll uncover the emotional and mental forces lying just beneath the threshold of awareness as you identify self-defeating patterns and explore new ways of being in the world.

Then, your clinician will help you mobilize your inner resources so you can tackle these problems head-on. The deep understanding of self that’s a byproduct of psychodynamic therapy can boost self-worth and create more satisfying relationships.

counselor talking with patient during session

Psychodynamic therapy can free you from your past. That way, you can have a better quality of life in the present. It examines how past traumas affect current situations and shows that, while formative experiences early in a person’s life can cause long-standing cognitive and behavioral patterns to develop, they’re not set in stone.

Psychodynamic therapy sessions are open-ended, meaning there's no schedule or plan. Instead, your therapist will encourage you to freely talk about what's on your mind. While you do that, your clinician will look for recurring patterns in your thoughts and feelings.

Who’s A Good Candidate for Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy isn't short-term—it requires a commitment to rigorous ongoing self-inquiry. Consider this therapeutic approach if you're inner-directed and looking to gain insight into yourself and your behavior. It also might be good if you think your past experiences and traumas have contributed to your current mental health issues.
On the other hand, if you have zero interest in taking a deep dive into your life history, other forms of therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy) might be more suitable. 

Psychodynamic Therapy Sub-Types 

Brief Psychodynamic Therapy


Sometimes, the insights needed to overcome a long-standing problem can be cultivated in a session or two. This is where brief psychodynamic therapy comes in.

While most therapeutic issues take longer than a single session to resolve, there are times when identifying and dealing with a problem won’t take long.

Psychodynamic Family Therapy


Like other psychodynamic therapies, this therapy focuses on unconscious processes and unresolved conflicts but looks at them in the context of family relationships. The therapist guides family members through an exploration of family history, especially traumatic events.

Psychodynamic family therapy can help families uncover and resolve the deep-seated interpersonal difficulties that lead to family problems. This process often involves adult family members working out conflicts with parents to better understand the struggles they have with their significant others and children.

Psychodynamic Art / Music Therapy


This non-traditional form of psychodynamic therapy involves expressing emotions through art or music. Like other types of psychodynamic therapy, it's non-directive and non-structured, which means the client leads the session. It doesn't require artistic talent or musical ability—only that individuals undergoing therapy use music or art to express themselves.

A client might talk about the emotions evoked by a particular work of art. They might also bring an album they feel they can relate to on a deep level to a session because of the emotional resonance it has for them.

Clients can also create a work of art during therapy. It doesn’t have to be good—it only needs to convey the underlying thoughts or feelings of the client. The interesting thing about this type of therapy is that both client and therapist often find that art and music are more effective ways of communicating than talking.

If you’re shy or find it difficult to talk, this might be a good therapy for you. 

The Goal of Psychodynamic Therapy

The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to expand a client’s self-awareness by examining unresolved conflicts and significant events in the context of past experiences. By doing this, you’ll gain a deeper insight into yourself and form a more positive sense of self.

Childhood can be a time when an individual develops a healthy sense of self. It can also be when a person develops neuroses and dysfunctional long-term thought patterns. We must explore our unconscious realm if we want to resolve internal problems that interfere with our happiness. This is where we keep our unspoken values (the beliefs we don't realize we have) and thought patterns and behavior developed in childhood.

By revisiting the psychological terrain of our younger years, we can discover how deeply ingrained and dysfunctional modes of behavior got their start. 

What Conditions Does Psychodynamic Therapy Treat?

Psychodynamic therapy has been proven to be effective for a variety of mental health problems, including:

Depressive Disorders

Borderline Personality Disorder

Anxiety Disorders

Eating Disorders

Personality Disorders

Panic Disorders

Social Anxiety

Unexplained Chronic Pain


Caring and Compassionate Psychodynamic Therapy in the Chicago Area 

If you need psychodynamic therapy for yourself or your loved ones, you've come to the right place. At Calm Mind Counseling Center, we have qualified clinicians who can help you work through emotional pain and explore unresolved traumas. That way, you can clear away the blocks preventing you from living life at the highest levels.

The best way to determine if psychodynamic therapy is right for you is by scheduling a consultation with one of our therapists.
Call us today! 

counselor talking with child in session
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