What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?


This therapeutic approach rests on the belief that our behaviour is determined by unconscious mental processes. These processes develop early in life, mainly during our childhood years.


The behaviours we develop as children in order to adapt to the world and others can be influenced by over-dependence on our parents or by difficult early emotional relationships. Consequently, they may stop being useful as we grow up and enter adulthood. For this reason one’s childhood and relationship to one’s parents or other significant people involved in one’s early emotional development often serve as the starting point in the therapeutic encounter.


The relationship with the therapist raises awareness of possible damaging defense mechanisms. Though they may have served a purpose in the past, these mechanisms, once relevant and useful, have often become obsolete and can prevent you from adapting to your present reality. With the realisation of a multitude of new resources and options, people are more able to solve their problems and develop a renewed confidence in their newly found maturity and independence.


This new insight promotes greater self-knowledge and greater awareness of how we manage our relationships with ourselves and with others. This is reflected in a greater quality of life, and the freedom and flexibility to meet future challenges more effectively.


The benefits of this therapeutic approach are:


  • greater self-knowledge
  • greater self-confidence and self-esteem
  • personal development
  • assertiveness
  • greater ability to deal with difficult and complex situations
  • emotional understanding of oneself and others
  • improvements in one’s relationships
  • greater capacity for communication
  • conflict resolution
  • clarification of thoughts and mixed feelings
  • increased motivation


Psychodynamic psychotherapy tends to be less intense and briefer than psychoanalysis and focuses on the dynamics between client and therapist in the context of a safe environment which offers total acceptance and empathy.


Through a joint effort between the client and the therapist, psychotherapy creates meaning where anxiety, confusion, or emptiness lie. Trust between the therapist and client is central as the client must feel able to safely discuss even the most personal or difficult of issues. In the first meeting you must be certain that you are comfortable with the idea of telling your therapist about your life and that you will be able to express yourself openly and without fear. It is equally important that the therapist goes at your pace. The dynamic between client and therapist determines the success of the therapeutic process.


Sessions will normally last for 50 minutes and may take place once a week or once every two weeks. If necessary, they can occur more frequently. The duration of therapy will be determined by the complexity of your difficulties. Most of these practical aspects are discussed during the first session and any necessary adjustments can be made in future sessions.


Confidentiality is paramount and a fundamental aspect of the therapeutic relationship. The content of each session will therefore be met with total discretion at all times.