Core Principles of Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic Therapy

Core Principles of Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of depth psychology. The primary focus of psychodynamic therapy is to reveal unconscious content of an individual’s psyche in order to alleviate psychic tension. Psychodynamic therapy is similar to psychoanalysis.

The approach for psychodynamic therapy is a bit more eclectic than others because it takes techniques from a variety of places rather than relying on a single system to work from. Psychodynamic therapy has been used in individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, family therapy, and to understand and work with institutional and organizational contexts. The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to create self-awareness for the individual in order to understand the influence of the past on present behavior.

Psychodynamic therapy is the oldest of modern therapies. Psychodynamic therapy or the main principles of psychodynamic therapy were first introduced in 1874 by a German scientist, Ernst Wilhelm von Brucke. This German scientist suggested that all living organisms are energy systems governed by the principle of energy conservation, similar to thermodynamics. Freud later came along and adopted the new construction of dynamic physiology to help with his own concept of the human psyche. Later psychodynamic therapy was developed even more by the likes of Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank, and Melanie Klein.

While psychodynamic therapy takes many different forms it does have some core principles. This makes it its own unique kind of therapy.

Some of the core principles and characteristics of psychodynamic therapy are:

  • A belief that psychopathology develops especially from early childhood experiences
  • 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 problems
  • Trusting in insight as critically important to the success of the therapy
  • A view that internal representations of experiences are organized around interpersonal relationships
  • 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

The approach with psychodynamic therapy is centered on the concept that some function is maladapted and comes into play and that this maladaptation is partly unconscious or unaware to the individual. This maladaptation happened somewhat early in life, maybe childhood, and causes problems in adulthood.

Read more about Psychodynamic Therapy.