Psychotherapy based on psychodynamic principles makes use of the idea that how you behave now is determined by past experiences. Psychodynamic practice aims to help you make sense of your existing situation and of the feelings and thoughts and associated memories that are brought about by this situation. In psychodynamic counselling, these feelings, thoughts, images and even dreams can be analysed to gain deeper understanding of how you relate to yourself and to others. This type of counselling employs strict boundaries with regards to session timekeeping, setting a therapeutic contract, breaks and endings. Such boundaries help to contain and hold the client.
The Transference Method – A psychodynamic counsellor usually keeps to the rule of abstinence and anonymity, so that the client knows little about the therapist to help show up transference reactions which can highlight important information about the client’s past experiences. Psychodynamic counsellors work with ‘transference’ which is the process that occurs in therapy when the client responds to the counsellor as if to a significant other person from the client’s past. Transference allows the counsellor to learn more about the client’s developmental course from child to adult. Transference in the therapeutic relationship can be positive or negative. Positive transference may include feelings of care or concern for the other. Negative transference may involve feelings of dislike, loathing or mistrust. Psychodynamic therapists may also work with ‘counter transference’ which is the counsellor’s reactions towards the client.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy and counselling have wide applications. They can help with anxiety, stress in the work place, work-life imbalances, relationship issues (break-up, divorce, affairs, choosing inappropriate partners, loneliness, life adjustments, marital problems, arguments, jealousy, wedding and premarital counselling), trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating problems and negative body image, depression (including suicidal thoughts, low mood, social withdrawal), phobias and fears, addiction, low self-esteem and confidence, abuse (including verbal and sexual abuse), bereavement, grief and loss.