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Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on uncovering or understanding a person's past to gain insight into current actions and behavior. This technique assumes that problems with behavior are caused by internal conflicts that the person is not consciously aware of.

Psychodynamic therapy assumes that everyone has an unconscious mind (the subconscious) and that feelings held in the unconscious mind are sometimes too painful to face. So people protect themselves by unconsciously covering up or not acknowledging these painful feelings (denial). This therapy aims to identify the defenses being used unconsciously as protection from past hurts. After these hurts and defenses have been identified, the person should feel less emotional pain and can learn to use better coping mechanisms.

The treatment lasts from several weeks to several years. This depends on how bad the past issues are. Psychodynamic therapy may be helpful in treating certain conditions, such as depression and borderline personality disorder, that involve personality and relationship problems.

Last Revised: March 8, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry

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