Psychodynamic therapy, sometimes referred to as psychodynamic counselling, is all about bringing those memories stored deep in the unconscious mind to the fore. Often many of the problems that cause us to have mental health issues are buried deep inside our heads. Psychodynamic therapy aims to help people by understanding their deep-rooted feelings so they become less of a problem.

The brain tends to suppress memories that are painful, traumatic or that are difficult to process to help us cope. When this happens we often develop coping mechanisms, usually subconsciously, to make them manageable.

This process can be known as being 'in denial' or 'projection'. We may not always be aware we're doing it.

That said, psychodynamic therapy aims to do this in a much less intense way than psychoanalytical therapy. It focuses on the immediate problems to find a solution much quicker.



Like many therapies, the relationship with the therapist will be very important and a relationship built on trust and openness will yield the biggest benefits. The same is true here.

The course of psychodynamic therapy is fluid or, 'dynamic'. There shouldn't be a fixed path on which the therapy will take, instead it will be governed by the descriptors, thoughts and feelings of the patient (or client).

Most of the talking will be done by the client, as they explore their feelings, emotions to get to the root of the problem. The therapist will act as a guide, tailoring their work to the topics offered up.

They will use a number of techniques to achieve this goal. These will include:

  • Free Association; this will involve the patient saying the first thing that comes to mind. I'm sure we've all played the 'word association' game in the past, whereby you say the first word that pops into your head after the other player says different word, then the process is repeated. This is very similar but a purely one-player game. It allows your true thoughts to come to mind without thinking or self-censoring them first.
  • Interpretation; As topics and thoughts are introduced, the therapist will interpret the topics the patient brings us. They will do this by being conscious of their mental state but, at the same time, also wary of things that may not yet have been brought up.
  • Therapeutic Transference; Because this kind of therapy deals with deep-routed, often intense, emotions, it is possible that those feelings will manifest themselves in the relationship between the patient and therapist. Depending on what they are, the patients may begin to feel affection, love, hate, distrust or anger towards the therapist; mirroring the feelings that may have for the person or 'thing' that is causing their problems. By being able to recognise these feelings as they emerge, the patient will begin to understand how and why they feel how the way they do.


Psychodynamic therapy can help with a wide range of mental health problems. These include, but not limited to, OCD and many types of phobias. A particular variation of this called Focal Psychodynamic Therapy is also becoming quite popular and is often recommended for those living with anorexia nervosa.

Psychodynamic therapy is one of the therapies that work best for a particular type of person. If you are really genuinely interested in exploring your psyche and getting to know yourself psychologically you tend to benefit the most.

For those willing to commit totally to the therapy, they should begin to see real benefits within the first couple of months of treatment.

If you'd like to share your experiences of psychodynamic therapy (or any other treatment) with our community so they can better understand how it helped you, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.