What makes psychodynamic counselling helpful?

Psychodynamic counselling is a type of therapy proven to help with a range of mental health difficulties. These include depression, anxiety and stress.

In this post: 

  • What psychodynamic therapy is 
  • How I use it at Sweet Mental Health
  • What it can do for you

What is psychodynamic counselling?

Psychodynamic counselling has its roots in the psychoanalytic methods of Freud, who was interested in how the mind worked while relieving distress in therapy. But it’s been further developed by other practitioners like Michael Jacobs who focused on how your past affects your present.1 He believes your inner and external worlds are equally important influences on you. 

So in psychodynamic therapy we look at your thoughts, feelings, behaviours, assumptions and belief system. And help you make sense of your past while disentangling it from the present. It can help you face any hurts and conflicts that you currently defend yourself against, so you can live life more freely.

Psychodynamic counselling at Sweet Mental Health

At Sweet Mental Health I use psychodynamic therapy to help you understand why you feel and act as you do in significant relationships. I pay attention to your emotional state as you talk and notice your non-verbal communication (such as tone of voice or posture). All this while holding you in a safe space so you’re free to explore your self thoroughly. 

Your previous relationships will often highlight how we should address and work through what’s happening for you. I use techniques like free association, and we can also explore and interpret your unconscious motivation, emotions, drivers and relationships. 

Psychodynamic counselling covers a wide range of needs and works at a deep level. So I recommend you engage with it weekly to get the best possible support. 

Psychodynamic counselling works 

Research into psychodynamic therapy shows it works incredibly well. 

Recent evidence-based trials on Mentalisation Based Therapy (MIT) and Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT) revealed it’s just as effective (if not better) than CBT in creating lasting change. And the approach works better over the long term (two or more years).

Along with a lot of neurological data around attachment and how we learn and experience the world2, this means we’re able to say: 

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is… backed up by evidence which satisfies mainstream ‘scientific’ criteria.’ – John Shedler 3, 4  

How psychodynamic counselling can help you 

Psychodynamic counselling can help support you with changes in your mental health over time. Based on emotional understanding it lets you feel, think and understand yourself and others better.

But people often hide their emotions to do with past and present caregiving experiences. That’s understandable, as these things can be difficult to deal with. As a counsellor I’ll hold your unpleasant, destructive or shameful feelings (as well as any loving ones) so you can learn to manage them in a safe environment.

As we work together it’s likely you’ll project some of your feelings onto me. As I experience this, I can identify what’s happening (known as ‘projection identification’). Then help you address your insecurities, anything you’re in denial over, past damage, any idealisations or self-critical thoughts and actions. Through this I can make ‘transference interpretations4’ where I’ll share what you’ve projected onto me. This will help you reorient yourself. 

You may feel you want to resist or push back against the things I share with you. Don’t worry, this is completely normal. It’s not easy to confront feelings or ways of being that have become so entrenched for you. 

Many of my clients find ending sessions or keeping to appointment times hard and will challenge the process at these moments. That’s OK. Together we can work through it, and you’ll gradually build understanding and tolerance. It’s all part of the healing process.

So, what makes psychodynamic counselling helpful?

Psychodynamic therapy can help you understand yourself and others better. So you can live a fuller and more mentally balanced life.

Influenced by both psychoanalytic and attachment theory2, it takes your past relationships with others and looks at how you currently engage with the world to improve your mental health. Look out for a blog post on how attachment features in family systems soon…

As ever, I’m interested in your thoughts on this subject – please do comment below. And I can also answer your questions in this free 20-minute consultation. 

I look forward to hearing from you and helping you achieve your own sweet mental health.

Bibliography 

  1. Jacobs, M. (2012) The Presenting Past – The core of psychodynamic counselling and therapy. 4.ed. Maidenhead. Open University Press 

2. Linington, M and Settle, V. (2017) ‘Attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy’ in The Sage Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy. 4.ed. London. Sage Publication Ltd. pp. 190-196 

3. Shedler, J. (2010) ‘The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy’ in American Psychologist. Available at: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-65-2-98.pdf (Accessed: 25.01.22) 

4. Segal, J. (2017) Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. The Sage Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy. 4.ed. London. Sage Publication Ltd. pp. 205-209

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