Psychodynamic psychotherapy: the therapeutic approach

The therapeutic model used is psychodynamic psychotherapy, which gives priority to the internal world of the person in its constitutive elements: thoughts, fantasies, beliefs, dreams and motivations and relates them to the affective (i.e. emotions), relational and social sphere.


Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a psychological treatment and path based on the idea that thoughts and emotions that we are not aware of can cause symptoms such as anxiety, depression and relationship difficulties.

It is therefore based on the assumption that the way we deal with painful or difficult thoughts and emotions is by relegating them to the unconscious.

Even if we are not aware of it, these thoughts and emotions greatly affect the way we behave and make choices in our life.

In clinical psychology when we talk about psychodynamic psychotherapy we refer to a form of psychotherapy based mainly on the conception and methodologies of psychoanalysis and more generally of dynamic psychology.

The essence of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy consists in the exploration of the different aspects of the Self that are not fully known, and the influences that derive from them especially in current relationships and in any psychopathological symptoms.

Furthermore, these aspects are also understood on the basis of their implicit influence on the therapeutic relationship (transference and countertransference dynamics).

The contemporary psychodynamic technique is significantly different from Sigmund Freud ‘s first original formulations of over a hundred years ago.

A fundamental concept of psychodynamic psychotherapy is that childhood experiences, together with the genetic characteristics of the individual, shape the adult person.

Childhood experiences with caregivers, in fact, are “internalized” (we could say assimilated, learned) and re-proposed in adult affective relationships.

This type of psychotherapy is certainly a path of deep analysis to discover the “different parts of oneself”, of one’s past and present, of one’s internal world of representations (that is, how I imagine things should be) and of the external one of real relationships (i.e. how things really are).

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Why is it called dynamic psychotherapy?

“Dynamics” refers to forces in motion.

In this sense, thoughts and emotions can be considered as mental forces that are constantly in motion and sometimes in conflict with each other.

Learning about these forces and conflicts can help you understand how you think and behave, what you feel and why.

The term “psychodynamic” derives precisely from Freud’s thought, who described the psychic apparatus as “dynamic”, which means in constant movement between “internal and external”, between “known and unknown”, between “past and present”.

How does the psychodynamic psychological path work?

Usually, at the first session, the first question I ask is: “What brought you here?”

In fact, the goal is to get to know each other, understand the nature, the manifestations of the problem, the reasons, and collect a series of useful data to deepen the patient’s history.

In subsequent interviews, we will work to identify specific goals for you.

Some of these goals may include:

  • learn to recognize emotions and feelings in order to foresee and welcome them;
  • improve your interpersonal relationships;
  • learn strategies for coping with stress and change;
  • overcome periods of pain or intense suffering, etc.

To achieve these goals we will work together in order to help you become more aware of the unconscious mechanisms that create you suffering and prevent you from feeling peaceful and satisfied in your personal and relational areas.

In psychodynamic psychotherapy the patient-therapist relationship and the patient’s motivation are of fundamental importance.

The typical frequency of the sessions is one or two sessions per week, and the duration of the treatment can be fixed in advance or kept open for an initial evaluation period.

Through psychotherapy the person has the opportunity on the one hand to face his own difficulties and sufferings and on the other hand to experiment and discover resources and potential that belong to him, through a space and a safe place, in which to find listening and welcoming.

Psychotherapy has two means at its disposal: the session and the relationship.

psicoterapia psicodinamica

What differentiates psychodynamic psychotherapy from other approaches?

Individuals are often unaware of what is at the root of their feelings and behaviors.

These are unconscious elements that can generate discomfort such as self-esteem problems, emotional and relational difficulties, work problems, sexual disorders or symptoms such as phobias, anxiety, depression, etc.

The dynamic psychotherapeutic path transforms into words the history and personal experience of the subject who can thus conceive and express feelings, emotions, concepts, knowledge, through symbols.

The tools of the dynamic psychotherapist are the use of free association, psychological transfert, dream analysis and interpretation.

Beyond these very important aspects, what differentiates dynamic psychotherapy from other approaches is the goal it sets itself, that is to go beyond the simple resolution of the symptom, to discover those potentials and resources that the person possesses, but of which he is unaware.

The psychodynamic orientation recognizes the existence of an “unconscious” mental functioning, that is, not aware, arguing that feelings and affective states that accompanied the experience of past events, can influence our current behavior without realizing it.

Therefore, a fundamental part of the psychotherapeutic work will be oriented to recover these emotional experiences, bringing them back to consciousness.

Only in this way, in fact, will they cease to condition our life.

An essential requirement to be able to provide psychodynamic psychotherapy treatment is that the psychotherapist’s training, in addition to the specialization in psychotherapy, includes an in-depth personal analysis to which she herself has undergone.