A psychodynamic approach primarily aims to help individuals uncover conscious and unconscious roots of emotional suffering. This can be achieved through the therapist using a line of questioning that promotes self-reflection, self-exploration and introspection, which helps an individual understand how their past experiences [including childhood] shape their current reactions, behaviour, and personality. Psychodynamic therapy aims to bring our unconscious roots of behaviour to our consciousness so that we can decide what to do with it.
A psychodynamic session may be more open-ended and loosely structured around the client's therapy goals, rather than attending to a rigid schedule or agenda. Regardless of the therapeutic approach, any therapist will have a case conceptualization guiding treatment, such that you've collaboratively discussed the aim of therapy and you have some cohesiveness between sessions (i.e., follow ups, debriefing on observations, conclusions, practices, or interactions outside of therapy).
Is psychodynamic therapy the same as Freud's psychoanalysis therapy?
Sigmund Freud is one of the most widely known proponents of psychotherapy. Freud's early writing on psychoanalysis is credited for forming the basis of the psychodynamic approach. Psychodynamic therapy has other major influencers separate from Freud, including Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Erik Erikson. Psychodynamic therapy generally places more importance on the influence of the social environment on development compared to the psychoanalytic perspective that is specific to Freud's work. While both acknowledge the role the unconscious plays in our lives, psychodynamic tends to place more attention on the external world and its impact.
Is psychodynamic therapy evidence-based?
According to research published by the American Psychological Association (APA), psychodynamic therapy is just as effective as cognitive behavioural modalities. Dr. Jonathan Shedler, PhD, at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine conducted a meta-analysis on the psychodynamic therapies that demonstrated lasting effect sizes (i.e., measurement of change) of 0.97 for symptom improvement, while most widely used antidepressant medications have an effect size closer to 0.31 (Shedler, 2010).
In an interview with the APA, Dr. Shedler commented on this issue, stating "Pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies have a financial incentive to promote the view that mental suffering can be reduced to lists of symptoms, and that treatment means managing those symptoms and little else. For some specific psychiatric conditions, this makes sense... But more often, emotional suffering is woven into the fabric of the person's life and rooted in relationship patterns, inner contradictions and emotional blind spots. This is what psychodynamic therapy is designed to address." (APA, 2010).
"Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength." - Sigmund Freud
- American Psychological Association. (2010). Psychodynamic psychotherapy brings lasting benefits through self-knowledge. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/01/psychodynamic-therapy
- Shedler, J. (2010). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American psychologist, 65(2), 98.
- Effectiveness. Research shows that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy for issues related to mental health.
- Accessible. Accommodates those living in rural or remote areas, people living with disabilities that prevent them from leaving the home, and eliminates transportation barriers.
- Convenience. No need to schedule time for a commute.
- Cost Effective. Eliminates cost of parking and transportation.
- Coverage. Some insurance companies may not cover it. We encourage you to check with yours.
- Confidentiality and Privacy. Although we use encrypted, HIPAA-compliant software and abide by telehealth guidelines, communicating over the Internet entails a greater risk for security breach compared to in-person. It also means possible Internet connectivity issues.
- Distractions. Possibilities for disruption depending on your living circumstances and others in the home.
- Trust and Body Language. Some people may prefer viewing the entire body language of their therapist for more effective communication.
- Severe mental health or psychiatric concerns. A more appropriate and accommodating option for people that may need crisis intervention that is better supported with in-person care.
- Participation. It is an opportunity to engage in an activity outside of your home.
- Time consuming. Ensuring commute time may be challenging for busy schedules.
- Expenses. Possible parking and transportation fees.
All virtual sessions are conducted using secure, HIPAA-compliant software. Research has shown that psychotherapy offered through telehealth is an effective solution for mental health treatment. The efficacy of either option depends on individual preference and comfort level.