Description of psychodynamic psychotherapy

Description of psychodynamic psychotherapy

Recently I have been hearing more of a resurgence about psychodynamic psychotherapies. It appears again to be an alive and exciting psychotherapy with some convincing evidence towards it's evidence base. I am still learning more as to it's current delivery  and have found the following description by Shedler (2010) to be most useful.


Extend beyond symptom remission, using self reflection, self exploration and self discovery to foster the positive presence of psychological capacities and resources such as:

·         Developing the capacity for more fulfilling relationships

·         Making more effective use of one's talents and abilities

·         Maintaining a realistically based sense of self esteem

·         Tolerating a wider range of affect

·         Having more satisfying sexual experiences

·         Understanding self and others in more nuanced and sophisticated ways

·         Facing life's challenges with greater freedom and flexibility.


Distinctive features

1.    Focus on affect and expression of emotion

2.    Exploration of attempts to avoid distressing thoughts and feelings

3.    Identification of recurring themes and patterns

4.    Discussion of past experience (developmental focus)

5.    Focus on interpersonal relations

6.    Focus on the therapy relationship

7.    Exploration of fantasy life

This brief description of psychodynamic psychotherapies is very relatable to me as many facets I already try to include in my therapeutic interventions. It is an area that I have always been aware of but perhaps not taken as seriously as the evidence suggests. 


Shedler, J. (2010). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 65(2), 98-109