Psychodynamic Therapy for Women in Massachusetts

Women struggling with mental health issues in Massachusetts can find treatment at Lightwork Therapy and Recovery in Woburn, MA. Lightwork Therapy is a gender-specific treatment center for women who might not feel comfortable discussing personal issues and specific challenges in a group that includes men. Therapists use psychodynamic therapy to help women become more self-aware in the present by helping them understand influences from their past.

What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Therapists use many different methods to help patients heal. Psychodynamic therapy (PDT) is one. PDT comes from the work of Sigmund Freud. It’s a type of talk therapy that examines the connection between a person’s past experiences (typically from childhood) and their current mental makeup.

However, to really understand psychodynamic therapy, the roots of its name need to be broken down. The word “dynamics” in psychodynamics is borrowed from thermodynamics. This branch of physics explains how different kinds of energy interact and change completely. Psychodynamics describes the emotional and psychological forces interacting in a person’s mind.

PDT and psychoanalysis are naturally related. Occasionally they are used interchangeably. Psychoanalysis specifically refers to Freud’s theories (a set of ideas that explain events or facts) and exploring issues that may come from early life experiences. But PDT is more focused on problem-solving and results and refers to his ideologies ( a set of opinions or beliefs). Additionally, PDT is usually shorter in the number and frequency of sessions than psychoanalysis.

The time needed to experience results from PDT depends on each person. Sometimes, results are seen in as little as a few weeks, while other people may spend 6 – 12 months or longer in therapy before experiencing initial results.

The relationship between the therapist and patient is important in any type of therapy, but it’s especially true in psychodynamic therapy. The success of PDT depends on trust in a major way because the topics discussed during therapy sessions are frequently sensitive or traumatic. Compared to other effective forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), PDT emphasizes unpacking how past traumas affect current emotions while CBT focuses on how present thoughts and perceptions affect a person’s behaviors. Both approaches aim to help people increase self-awareness and get more control over their mental health.

therapist taking notes during session with female client

What are the 4 Techniques of Psychodynamic Therapy?

At the heart of psychodynamic therapy is the process of making the unconscious thought become conscious. This is aided and stimulated by the therapist through many tools and techniques, depending on the specific needs of the patient. Common PDT techniques include:

Psychodynamic therapy frequently includes free association. This technique is when the patient is encouraged to discuss anything that is on their mind, including:

  • Recent life events
  • Disagreements with others
  • Aspirations and fears
  • Dreams and nightmares
  • anything they want to reveal about themselves and their experiences

PDT is involved in listening to the different layers of expressed communication from both the patient’s conscious and unconscious that is trying to get out. Dream analysis is used to unlock the patient’s unconscious to reveal hidden fears, desires, and motivations, and uncover long-buried thoughts and feelings.

Understanding the patient’s communication at its various levels is sometimes expressed as content vs. process. The content is what the patient is relating at the conscious level and is mainly limited to what they understand. The communication process is how the information is presented. This may offer certain clues to their unconscious and represent what they’re trying to communicate without being immediately aware of it.

The therapist listens to the content but also observes:

  • non-verbal cues
  • mistakes in speech
  • Sudden changes in topic
  • Contradictions between what they say and emote

Besides observing the slight differences in communication, psychodynamic therapists realize that patients often unconsciously shift desires, feelings, fears, and resentments that they have for people in their history onto the therapist. This is a phenomenon known as transference because the patient transfers their feelings from the original person onto the therapist as an object of those feelings.

When this occurs, patients don’t always recognize the transferrence when it happens. But when it does, the psychodynamic therapist can make the connection and help the patient understand the actual origin of those emotions. Often, they involve people who represent unresolved conflicts and may even reveal misplaced shame or guilt the patient experienced.

On the other hand, therapists may begin to have unconscious feelings toward the patient at some time in therapy because therapists are also human. PDT acknowledges this important rare occurrence known as countertransference. Therapists are trained to understand their own issues to help reduce the unwarranted influence of them in therapy. Countertransference can then be used as a tool for the therapist to understand the patient’s experience better and have a better-prepared approach as the issue arises.

Benefits of Psychodynamic Therapy

The PDT approach is beneficial for individuals who want to get to the roots of their problems and try to understand what might be unconsciously going on in their minds that affects their thoughts and feelings. If you are sincerely interested in relieving your symptoms and seeking self-knowledge PDT should work well for you.

What Does Psychodynamic Therapy Help Treat?

PDT is used to treat a wide variety of issues and mental illnesses such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Feeling a loss of the meaning in life
  • Panic disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Persistent loneliness
  • Problems forming relationships
  • Sexual problems
  • Substance use disorder (addiction)

Who is Psychodynamic Therapy Suitable For?

The effectiveness of PDT narrows down to three factors:

  1. The therapist’s experience and ability
  2. The compatibility between the therapist and patient
  3. Whether the patient is well-suited for PDT

Psychodynamic therapy is most effective for people with harmful “internalizing” coping mechanisms such as:

  • Anxious and depressive symptoms
  • PTSD
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Social withdrawal

Individuals who experience internalizing problems may experience panic disorders, substance use disorders, and personality disorders, can all benefit from PDT.

A further indicator of whether a person is a good candidate for PDT or not is if their past traumas and experiences are key to their present negative mental health symptoms. The best way to find out if PDT is right for you is through a consultation with a mental health professional.

Is Psychodynamic Therapy Effective?

There have been few studies measuring the success of PDT until recently. This caused people to be skeptical about its effectiveness. However, researchers have been able to observe its benefits in recent years.

One study found that PDT and psychoanalytic therapies were effective to improve psychosocial well-being in general and also reduced the number of people who attempt suicide. Furthermore, another study found that PDT can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Researchers also wanted to determine whether PDT is as effective when carried out online or not. It was found that psychodynamic therapy is still successful when conducted by way of telehealth, particularly for depression. Still, the results of PDT depend on several factors, one being the ability of the therapist to deliver the therapy properly. Less effective therapists are ultimately less likely to see changes in patient outcomes.

Psychodynamic Therapy for Women

Mental disorders affect men and women differently. Some are more common in women such as:

As previously mentioned, these disorders can be effectively treated with PDT. When we consider other mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, research hasn’t found any gender differences in the rates they’re diagnosed.

Psychodynamic Therapy for Women at Lightwork Therapy and Recovery

Lightwork Therapy is a women-only therapy and treatment center in Massachusetts experienced in treating women’s issues. Our therapists are licensed professionals whose only goal is to help you recover and find meaning in your life and relationships. We have an intensive day treatment program and a standard outpatient program, so a program can be designed specifically for you. You don’t have to suffer from mental issues and all the turmoil that they bring. Contact us today. PDT may be able to get you back on track sooner rather than later.

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