What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

Psychodynamic therapy encourages exploration and discussion of the full range of a patient’s emotions. The therapist helps the patient describe and put words to feelings, including contradictory feelings, feelings that are troubling or threatening, and feelings that the patient may not initially be able to recognize or acknowledge (this stands in contrast to a cognitive focus, where the greater emphasis is on thoughts and beliefs). There is also a recognition that intellectual insight is not the same as emotional insight, which resonates at a deep level and leads to change (this is one reason why many intelligent and psychologically minded people can explain the reasons for their difficulties, yet their understanding does not help them overcome those difficulties).

Excerpt from Shedler, J. (2010) "The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy", American Psychologist, 65 (2) 98-109.

Jonathan Shedler, PhD is a leading expert on personality and psychotherapy.

The full article can be downloaded on Jonathan Shedler's website, obtained directly from American Psychologist or found in the American Psychology Association's PsycArticles database.

For a definition of psychotherapy, please see What is Psychotherapy?