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.
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.
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.