Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are displayed in a person’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior. This approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in the need and desire to abuse substances.
In psychodynamic therapy, therapists can help evaluate the patterns people develop over time and gain insight into their lives and present-day problems. Recognizing recurring patterns can help people see how they avoid distress or develop defense mechanisms to cope. This insight may allow them to begin changing those patterns.
The therapeutic relationship can demonstrate how a person interacts with their friends and loved ones. In addition, transference in therapy can show how early-life relationships affect a person today. Transference is the transferring one’s feelings for a parent, for example, onto the therapist. This intimate look at interpersonal relationships can help people understand their part in relationship patterns. It may empower them to transform that dynamic.
Psychodynamic therapists encourage people to speak freely about their emotions, desires, and fears. Being open may help reveal vulnerable feelings that have been pushed out of conscious awareness. According to psychodynamic theory, behavior is influenced by unconscious thought. Once vulnerable or painful feelings are processed, the defense mechanisms reduce or resolve.