What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy interprets mental and emotional processes to uncover the unconscious content of your psyche. Developed as a shorter, straightforward replacement for psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy incorporates self-psychology, ego psychology, and object relations.1
Psychodynamic therapy is a talking therapy. It is a strategy that considers all facets of a person’s life. It aims to help people understand and comprehend the frequently hidden or unconscious causes behind challenging emotions and behaviors. This understanding can help people feel better, reduce their symptoms, and make more informed decisions.
Although there are many more types of therapy than the five broad categories listed by the American Psychological Association, most can be traced back to the “father of psychoanalysis,” Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud’s innovative work formed the foundation of psychodynamic therapy.2 In addition, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, and Anna Freud were among the early thought leaders in the discipline who contributed to developing the psychodynamic approach to therapy.
Practitioners frequently had a background in medicine and adopted a paternalistic attitude. Earlier cases involved long term psychodynamic therapy, sometimes lasting years with a person attending multiple sessions a week.
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Jump to Section
- What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?
- Uses of Psychodynamic Therapy
- Types & Tools of Psychodynamic Therapy
- How Does Psychodynamic Therapy Work?
- Goals & Benefits of Psychodynamic Therapy Treatment
- Psychodynamic Therapy Effectiveness & Success Rates
- The Cost of Psychodynamic Therapy & Insurance Coverage
- How To Find the Best Psychodynamic Therapist in Tennessee?
Uses of Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic Therapy is used to address many mental health disorders, including:3
- Eating disorders
- Interpersonal problems
- Personality disorders
- Psychological distress
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Substance use disorders
Types & Tools of Psychodynamic Therapy
The following are various types of psychodynamic therapy:
- Brief Psychodynamic Therapy:4 Thoughts and feelings that negatively affect relationships, communication, and performance at work or school are the main focus of this short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. The therapist must gain your trust, build an honest rapport, and discuss pertinent past and present events that interfere with normal functioning. Additionally, brief psychodynamic therapy services may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to address signs and habits that impair everyday functioning.
- Psychodynamic Family Therapy:5 This approach to family therapy combines an interest in the social framework, particularly the family setting, in which individual and relational dysfunction arise.
- Open Dialogue Therapy:6 Open Dialogue is an integrative strategy combining certain psychodynamic ideas. It represents systemic family therapy, uniting social and professional networks to provide continuity of psychological treatment across service borders. It encourages families to gather consistently and frequently to discuss serious mental and emotional issues. This strategy aims to establish a setting where decision-making is open, and you can find new ways to express your experiences.
- Music Therapy:7 Inherent mood-lifting effects of music as a therapeutic strategy assists people with improving their mental health and general well-being. This unconventional method of psychodynamic treatment entails expressing emotions through music or art. This form of therapy involves a non-directive and unstructured approach, just like other varieties of psychodynamic treatment, enabling you to take the lead throughout sessions.8 It’s a focused intervention that might include:
- Making music
- Writing songs
- Listening to music
- Discussing music
- Journaling/Writing:9 Journaling therapy, developed in the 1960s by psychologist Dr. Ira Progoff, makes therapeutic use of writing activities and prompts to alleviate mental health disorders resulting from internal and external conflicts. Although there aren’t many experts who focus entirely on journal therapy, many psychotherapists incorporate therapeutic journal writing into their practice.
Tools of Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic treatment relies less on exercises and activities than most other types of therapy. However, certain significant tools allow psychodynamic therapists to delve deeply into the unconscious mind with their clients.
Many kinds of psychodynamic treatment use the below psychodynamic therapy techniques:
- Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM): This is the first psychological diagnostic classification system that considers the entire person in various stages of development.10
- Rorschach Inkblots: The Rorschach test is a projective psychological examination in which the inkblot impressions of the participants are noted and subsequently subjected to psychological interpretation, sophisticated algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person’s personality traits and emotional capabilities.
- Freudian Slip: Of all the psychodynamic therapy techniques, Freudian Slips may be the most informal. Characterized by a mistake in speech, memory, or behavior that happens as a result of internal thought or suppressed unconscious wishes, a psychodynamic therapist might conclude that a slip is a tiny fragment of your unconscious making its way to the surface, signifying an unfulfilled need or an unidentified relationship between two notions.
- Free Association: Free association is the most important, most used, and often highly effective of all the psychodynamic therapy techniques:
- The uncensored expression of the content of consciousness (by speaking or writing) as a tool for accessing unconscious processes
- The recording of the initial response to specific stimuli that occurs in the mind (such as a word)
- Dream Analysis:11 Dream analysis is a method of interpreting dream content to uncover hidden motives or symbolic representations and meanings. Free association can help with dream analysis.
How Does Psychodynamic Therapy Work?
In psychodynamic therapy, therapists assist you in understanding your life and current issues. The psychological causes of emotional pain are the main emphasis.12 Its defining characteristics include self-reflection, self-examination, and the utilization of the therapeutic relationship as a window into a patient’s dysfunctional relationship patterns.
Psychodynamic therapists assess the patterns exhibited throughout time. You can determine how you avoid distress or create coping skills by recognizing repeated patterns. You might be able to start altering those patterns with this realization. To accomplish this, they go over the following life events with you:
- Childhood experiences
While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy are both talk therapies, the aims are different. The goals of CBT involve change, whereas the goals of psychodynamic therapy involve gaining insight.13
Goals & Benefits of Psychodynamic Therapy Treatment
The main goal of psychodynamic therapy is to uncover and comprehend a person’s past to gain insight into and understand their present actions and behaviors. Some advantages of psychodynamic treatment include:14
- Better communication and relationships with others
- Improved self-esteem
- Enhanced productivity and capacity for work satisfaction
- Increased capacity for pursuing long term goals
- Improved management of aggression and negative emotions
- Reduction of symptoms related to anxiety and depression
These additional psychodynamic therapy goals and advantages include internal developments you will implement. These consist of:
- Insight into unconscious conflict
- Progress in the use of mature psychological defenses and coping mechanisms
- Increase in flexibility in perceptions of and behaviors involving others
- Improved quality of your mental representations of relationships
- Better ability to comprehend others’ and your mental state
Psychodynamic Therapy Effectiveness & Success Rates
According to research published by the American Psychological Association, psychodynamic psychotherapy benefits a wide range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and stress-related physical illnesses. Furthermore, the advantages of the therapy continue long after treatment has ended.
Author Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, found psychodynamic therapy treatment highly effective.15 Shedler looked at nine meta-analyses of different psychological treatments and antidepressant medicines and eight meta-analyses that included 160 trials of psychodynamic therapy concentrating on effect size. Effect size gauges how much of a difference each treatment makes. An effect size of 0.80 is a substantial effect.
One significant meta-analysis of psychodynamic therapy included 1,431 individuals with various mental health conditions, and the effect size for overall symptom improvement was 0.97. The therapy was usually once per week, lasting less than a year. When patients were reevaluated nine or more months following their last session, the effect magnitude rose by 50%.
Furthermore, Shedler believes that using psychodynamic therapy techniques in non-psychodynamic therapies contributes to their effectiveness.
The Cost of Psychodynamic Therapy & Insurance Coverage
Psychodynamic therapy typically costs $75 to $150 each session. These are average costs, however, so they may not reflect the actual cost of treatment or what you may pay in Tennessee. In addition, many therapists offer sliding scale prices to make it more affordable, especially in cases where you do not have insurance coverage.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), passed by Congress in 2008, mandates stringent guidelines for fair coverage of medical/surgical treatment as well as mental health and substance use disorder treatment. The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) extended the reach of the parity legislation by requiring that most health plans provide care for mental health and substance use disorders to small groups and individual markets.16
Most major insurance companies provide therapy insurance coverage for psychodynamic therapy. However, coverage specifics may vary depending on your insurance carrier, location, length of treatment needed, and other factors.
How To Find the Best Psychodynamic Therapist in Tennessee?
Finding mental health clinics in Tennessee has never been easier with Athena Care’s multiple locations. In-network with most major insurance plans, Athena Care’s expert care coordinators are here to help Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best method to determine the specifics of your therapy insurance coverage. In addition, you’ll find a list of practitioners organized by city, their background, and their specialties here. After completing the form, a care coordinator will review your policy and thoroughly explain your options. Rest assured, all submitted or discussed information remains private.
It’s important to ask lots of questions and to keep the following factors in mind when selecting mental health therapists for psychodynamic therapy in Tennessee:
- Education, training, license, and years of experience
- Does the therapist have a Ph.D., Psy.D., or a master’s degree?
- What is their degree? Psychiatric nursing, social work, etc.?
- What is their focus as far as mental health disorders?
- How long have they been practicing?
- Specialties and services offered
- Do they specialize in other forms of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?
- Treatment methods and philosophies
- Which psychodynamic therapy examples and techniques do they favor?
- Do they favor a psychodynamic approach to therapy?
- Which insurance companies do they work with, as well as their office hours, prices, and session length?
- GoodTherapy Editor Team. “Psychodynamic Therapy.” GoodTherapy, GoodTherapy, LLC, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/psychodynamic. Accessed 28 June 2022.
- Dresden, Danielle. “What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?” Medical News Today, Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK, 30 Sept. 2020, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/psychodynamic-therapy.
- Cherry, Kendra. “Is Psychodynamic Therapy an Effective Approach to Treatment?” Verywell Mind, Dotdash Media, Inc., 28 Jan. 2021, www.verywellmind.com/psychodynamic-therapy-definition-uses-effectiveness-5094933.
- Freedheim, Donald, PhD, et al. Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy. American Psychological Association, 2013. https://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310903?tab=2.
- McAdams, Rip. “Psychodynamic Family Therapy.” The SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Counseling and Psychotherapy. Edited by Edward S. Neukrug. Thousand Oaks,: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2015, pp. 817-21. SAGE Knowledge. 27 Jun 2022, doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483346502.n292
- Freeman, Abigail M., et al. “Open Dialogue: A Review of the Evidence.” Psychiatric Services, vol. 70, no. 1, 2019, pp. 46–59. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201800236.
- Wong, Cathy. “What to Know About Music Therapy.” Verywell Mind, Dotdash Media, Inc., 14 July 2021, www.verywellmind.com/benefits-of-music-therapy-89829.
- Ackerman, Courtney E., MA. “What Is Psychodynamic Therapy? 5 Tools and Techniques.” PositivePsychology.Com, 20 June 2022, positivepsychology.com/psychodynamic-therapy/#tools-psychodynamic-therapy.
- GoodTherapy Editor Team. “Journal Therapy.” GoodTherapy, GoodTherapy, LLC, 3 Aug. 2016, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/journal-therapy.
- Gordon, Robert M. “Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual.” The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2010. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0722.
- “APA Dictionary of Psychology.” American Psychological Association, dictionary.apa.org/dream-analysis. Accessed 28 June 2022.
- Shedler, Jonathan. “The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.” American Psychologist, vol. 65, no. 2, 2010, pp. 98–109. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018378.
- Holder, Jane Counselling. Bronwyn. “The Main Counselling Approaches: What Are They?” Counselling Directory, Memiah Limited, 21 Aug. 2013, www.counselling-directory.org.uk/memberarticles/what-are-they-comparing-and-contrasting-the-three-main-counselling-approaches.
- Roberts, Laura Weiss, et al. “The American Psychiatric Association Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry.” The American Psychiatric Association Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry, no. Seventh Edition, 2019. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9781615372980.
- “Date Created: 2010 Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Brings Lasting Benefits through Self-Knowledge.” American Psychological Association, 2010, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/01/psychodynamic-therapy.
- “Mental Health Parity | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness.” National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), NAMI, www.nami.org/Advocacy/Policy-Priorities/Improving-Health/Mental-Health-Parity. Accessed 28 June 2022.
If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.
One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control.