An understanding of psychodynamic therapy

Posted on: July 21st, 2012 by Dr. Adam Friedman

Before you spend the time and money and effort in therapy, you should know that not all therapy is alike and what works for one person may not be best for another. It is with that in mind that I want to explain how I view this process. I practice a psychodynamic view of psychology. Literally this means the study of the interchange of forces (dynamic) of the mind (psycho). I feel this is best understood through the analogy of steam in a pipe. Everyone can handle a certain amount of anxiety, just how much varies from person to person but we all have our limit. I look at anxiety as steam in a pipe – once the steam builds beyond a persons’ ability to control it, it creates a crack in the pipe. That crack is what we call a symptom. Depending on various factors (family, life experiences) that crack may be an eating disorder, drug abuse, shoplifting, or one of many other symptoms. While many other types of therapeutic approaches focus on fixing the crack (which often results in symptom substitution, such as the recovering alcoholic who begins smoking two packs a day) a psychodynamic approach focuses on the steam.

I also believe that therapy can only be successful through a quality relationship between therapist and patient. It takes trust, consistency, and respect to create an atmosphere in which anything under the sun is open to discussion. This takes a therapist who has been trained to understand there own biases, weaknesses, and needs, and is constantly making sure not to let them interfere with the task at hand. It’s a responsibility not to be taken lightly, and as a patient you need to feel as though the only agenda in therapy is your own.

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