Psychodynamic psychotherapy

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Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a form of depth psychology, the primary focus of which is to reveal the unconscious content of a client's psyche in an effort to alleviate psychic tension.[1] In this way, it is similar to psychoanalysis, but psychodynamic therapy tends to be briefer and less intensive than psychoanalysis. It also relies on the interpersonal relationship between client and therapist more than other forms of depth psychology. In terms of approach, this form of therapy also tends to be more eclectic than others, taking techniques from a variety of sources, rather than relying on a single system of intervention. It is a focus that has been used in individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, family therapy, and to understand and work with institutional and organizational contexts.[citation needed]


The principles of psychodynamics were first introduced in the 1874 publication Lectures on Physiology by German scientist Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke. Brücke, taking a cue from thermodynamics, suggested all living organisms are energy systems, governed by the principle of energy conservation. During the same year, Brücke was supervisor to first-year medical student Sigmund Freud at the University of Vienna. Freud later adopted this new construct of “dynamic” physiology to aid in his own conceptualization of the human psyche. Later, both the concept and application of psychodynamics was further developed by the likes of Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank, and Melanie Klein [2].


Most psychodynamic approaches are centered around the concept that some maladaptive functioning is in play, and that this maladaption is, at least in part, unconscious. The presumed maladaption develops early in life and eventually causes dissonance in day to day life. The psychodynamic therapist first intervenes to treat the discomfort associated with the poorly formed function[citation needed], then helps the client acknowledge the existence of the maladaption, while working with the client to develop strategies for change.

Core Principles and Characteristics

Although psychodynamic psychotherapy can take many forms, commonalities include[3]:

  • An emphasis on the centrality of intrapsychic and unconscious conflicts, and their relation to development.
  • Seeing defenses as developing in internal psychic structures in order to avoid unpleasant consequences of conflict.
  • A belief that psychopathology develops especially from early childhood experiences.
  • A view that internal representations of experiences are organized around interpersonal relations.
  • A conviction that life issues and dynamics will re-emerge in the context of the client-therapist relationship as transference and counter-transference.
  • Use of free association as a major method for exploration of internal conflicts and problems.
  • Focusing on interpretations of transference, defense mechanisms, and current symptoms and the working through of these present problems.
  • Trust in insight as critically important for success in therapy.

See also


  1. psychodynamic psychotherapy -
  2. Horacio Etchegoyen: The Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique, Karnac Books ed., New Ed, 2005, ISBN 185575455X
  3. Sundberg, Norman (2001). Clinical Psychology: Evolving Theory, Practice, and Research. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0130871192. 
af:Psigodinamiese terapie

bg:Психодинамична психотерапия es:Terapia psicodinámica it:Psicoterapia psicodinamica pl:Psychoterapia psychodynamiczna sr:Психодинамска терапија fi:Psykodynaaminen psykologia sv:Psykodynamisk psykoterapi