Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Psychoanalysis is a form of psychological treatment which is based on the premise that people are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their actions, emotions and relationships. These unconscious factors may cause symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, difficulties at work, difficulty finding and maintaining long-term relationships, low self-esteem, and other issues. Many such problems have their roots in past experiences and relationships. The goal of psychoanalysis is to help the individual gain insight into his/her inner world, to understand how it affects the many aspects of his/her life, and to work at improving the areas of life that have been affected. It can even unlock unsuspected potential for creativity and productivity and, overall, expand the freedom to live one’s life more fully.
Psychoanalysis involves treating emotional difficulties through collaborative effort and communication between the psychoanalyst and the patient. It generally requires a higher frequency of sessions over a longer period of time than other forms of psychological treatment.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a form of therapy that utilizes the principles of psychoanalysis. It emphasizes the importance of finding unconscious motivations and gaining insight into one’s actions and feelings, and identifying past experiences and relationships that may play a part in the present problem. The focus and the goal of psychotherapy may be more limited than in psychoanalysis but the purpose is the same: better awareness into one’s inner world, improved functioning, and an increased sense of well-being. Again, therapist and patient work collaboratively, but with a lesser frequency of sessions than psychoanalysis (once or twice a week).
Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy studies conducted in the past few years have brought empirical evidence to support the benefits of psychodynamic psychotherapy**.
** Leichsenring, F. & Rabung, S. (2008). Effectiveness of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy : a meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association, 300, 1551-1565
** Shedler, J. (2010). The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 65 (2), 98-109.