Psychodynamic Counselling

Psychodynamic counselling is a generic term that embraces many therapies of an analytic nature. It is based on the belief that past experiences continue to affect present life.

For example, childhood experiences of feeling nervous of a parent who always seemed to know best might leave someone with a vague feeling of never being good enough, so having a demanding line manager at work could trigger old feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. Thinking about how this is actually an echo from a past situation with a parent can separate the past from the present, and make it easier to deal with the work issue at face value.

Psychodynamic theory uses the basic assumption that everyone has an unconscious mind (sometimes called the subconscious). We may not be fully aware of feelings and beliefs, and they may be uncomfortable or too painful to be faced. One way to avoid them is by pushing these uncomfortable thoughts away and simply ignoring them.

However, even effective coping mechanisms can become less useful as our lives change, and can become a problem in themselves. They hide the problem rather than allow us to resolve the issues we have become used to avoiding. For example, one way of pushing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings away is by working and concentrating on other things. This can then lead to workaholic behaviours which can take up too much time and get in the way of relationships.

Psychodynamic counselling is a way of exploring the coping mechanisms and the reasons for them, and to focus on resolving the underlying problems and adapting the old defences that are now causing more harm than good. As the feelings are thought about consciously, within the counselling room and eventually between sessions, they start to have less affect on daily life, and we can move forward with less 'baggage'.

Psychodynamic counselling can help to :

  • Clarify and articulate what you are thinking and feeling at a deeper level
  • See how the past influences you now
  • See what part you play in your relationships with the world, others and yourself
  • Face painful and difficult feelings when you are ready to do so
  • Prioritise what is most important to you and help you to look forward with greater confidence
  • Practise a new way of being within the safety of the counselling room