Feeling good about ourselves, having loving relationships and satisfying work are goals that most of us aspire to. However, sometimes dealing constructively with painful or harmful events, and engaging within relationships in a meaningful and productive way can feel very difficult. Despite our best intentions and application of various psychological ‘strategies’ we can find ourselves in a rut, and although we want to change, we don’t seem to be able to.
Psychodynamic therapy aims to uncover deep habitual patterns that we may not be aware of, and assists us to develop a deeper and more authentic understanding of ourselves. Uncovering these mental, emotional, instinctual, and relational patterns can be very challenging because over the years our coping mechanisms may have created unhelpful ways of thinking about issues or relating to others.
Our coping mechanisms protect us from pain, but they can also prevent us accessing true feelings which can lead to chronic or acute symptoms of anxiety, depression, or challenges and difficulties relating with one’s self or others. Developing a deeper understanding of ourselves and the way we relate with others can be a highly rewarding and empowering process. For example, a man who experiences depression may understand how high expectations undermine his capacity to relate authentically with himself and others. A woman who is anxious may discover how her compulsive habits cover over her need to feel secure. Or a woman who is lonely may discover that she create her own island by denying her need for others.
In therapy, the patient is encouraged to explore any issues that come to mind, irrespective of how difficult, angry, painful or intense these thoughts or feelings may be. Psychodynamic therapists are trained to guide patients to explore their thoughts and emotions with patience, care, expertise and safety. The therapist supports the patient to understand and articulate conscious and unconscious aspects of their mind with depth, presence and clarity, resulting in a deeper understanding of one’s self and more healthy and rewarding ways of relating with others.