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What Is Psychodynamic Therapy And How Is It Performed?

By Arushi Neravetla

Psychodynamic therapy, commonly referred to as psychotherapy, is based on patients freely expressing themselves with no agendas or specific goals in mind. The treatment eliminates troubling symptoms and works on emotional difficulties within patients. This type of therapy focuses on alleviating a wide range of mental illnesses like severe depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and physical ailments. Furthermore, it ventures into the psychological roots of emotional suffering. The beneficial hallmarks of psychotherapy allow patients to self-reflect and self-examine themselves with provided clinical help. Additionally, a mutual understanding with a patient allows psychotherapists to observe the problematic patterns that coexist in the patient. The goal behind psychotherapy is not only to alleviate the most obvious symptoms, but also to provide healing guidance for patients. For example, over 1,431 patients with a range of mental health problems went to therapy once per week, and 95% of patients were cured and re-evaluated at the end of therapy [1]. The consistent trend suggests that psychotherapy sets to improve the psychological symptoms within patients.

Psychotherapists perform techniques to facilitate self-exploration, examine emotional blind spots, and study past/present relationship patterns. Over four studies have shown that psychotherapists record sessions to observe the conversations with depression-related patients to see if the effectiveness of their medical advice [1]. The more therapists realize how to handle patients by using various methods, the better the outcome. This statement is true regardless of which type of therapeutic case is being studied.

According to the American Psychological Association, the benefits of therapy are also shown in the aftermath of observing the patient’s weekly mental and physical statehood. Varying from patient to patient, the treatment frequency ranges from 1-3 times per week and lasts approximately a few years [2]. The patient’s diagnosis involves analyzing and studying the conflicts that are unnoticeable from a patient’s perspective. The resolution that comes from an unsolved conflict leads to an improvement. To elaborate, in 1972, scientist Wahl conducted an experiment on mentally ill cancer patients to see how various symptoms like fear of death, loneliness, physical strains, and a hospital environment affected their mental statehood. Wahl decided to observe these patients by introducing them to psychotherapy, teaching therapists to review certain life factors such as emotional relief, early-life experiences, beliefs, and thoughts. After a few weeks of observing the patients by utilizing those factors, Wahl noticed changes in their mental images [2]. Wahl observed that the idea of positive transference, an unconscious transfer of loving feelings from a patient’s past to the present, can induce severe symptoms in patients. However, the results of positive transference may also be negative, depending on the patient’s prior childhood experiences. To summarize, psychotherapy is useful for patients who carry mental strain and burdens that trigger internal conflicts within them, causing them to need emotional support to alleviate those symptoms.

In all, psychotherapists, who recognize core emotions while professionally working with patients in a safe environment, greatly reduce not only the symptoms of mental illnesses, but they also give a voice for patients to express themselves.


  1. “Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Brings Lasting Benefits through Self-Knowledge.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association,

  2. Yuppa, David P., and Fremonta Meyer. “When and Why Should Mental Health Professionals Offer Traditional Psychodynamic Therapy to Cancer Patients?” Journal of Ethics | American Medical Association, American Medical Association, 1 May 2017,

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