Psychodynamic vs. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy comes in all manner of forms. A few of these include, but are not limited to, supportive psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis.

In my practice, the primary forms of therapy I use are psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy. I have extensive training and experience in both of these forms of psychological treatment, building on decades of validated research in the field of psychology.

In the sections below, you can find more information on these psychotherapies including what they focus on and what they are particularly useful in treating.

What is Psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is one of the oldest forms of therapy, originating from Sigmund Freud. It focuses on historical elements of your life (i.e., family dynamics, past traumas, etc.), their influence on your unconscious mind, and the ways the unconscious affects your current life. Such unconscious influences and effects present in ways that you do not or cannot recognize.

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The work of naming, unpacking, and addressing these unconscious influences requires an experienced and well-trained psychoanalyst. Due to the deeply ingrained nature of these unconscious influences on your behavior and thinking, psychoanalysis is an intensive––and highly effective––form of treatment, occurring 3-4 times weekly.

What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a specific type of psychotherapy treatment that examines the connection between thinking and behavior. Most often, these treatments deal with day-to-day experiences, helping the patient process and adapt to life’s challenges in healthy ways. Its focus is usually on the more immediate past and present with direct ways of managing experiences and generating new skills (e.g., improving communication, recovering from grief, generating coping skills). When I make the recommendation for psychodynamic psychotherapy, individuals typically are seen 1-2 times per week.

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What do Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy have in common?

Both of these treatment approaches rely upon a strong therapeutic relationship. We will tackle your problems together as a unit, exploring potential causes and solutions. Your past and present play critical roles in this work. Under my trained eye, you will piece together invisible patterns in your life to understand how you might create a path toward a better future.

What is the difference between Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy both have long histories of clinical practice and many years of research supporting their use and benefits; however, each form has a particular use in treating psychological conditions. After careful assessment and 1-2 consultation sessions, I will determine which treatment approach is appropriate for you. Broadly, the two modalities can be organized according to the following sets of questions: for psychoanalysis, “Why does this happen, and what does this mean for me?”; for psychodynamic psychotherapy, “What happened, and what do I do about it?”

What is Psychoanalysis for and when is it recommended?

Generally, psychoanalysis targets the root causes of troubling thoughts, feelings and behaviors; uncovering and addressing unspoken origins from your life experiences. The goal is to increase awareness of self, alleviate emotional pain from past traumas and familial conflicts, and modify unconscious responses to create a healthier life. Psychoanalysts play a critical role in the process, allowing you to express past experiences in a profoundly intimate and immediate manner.

This treatment approach is often indicated if you experience:

  • long-standing problems that started in childhood or adolescence and affect many areas of your life;
  • intense trouble establishing and maintaining close relationships;
  • frequent problems at work with colleagues or your boss;
  • or difficulties interacting at home or with your family of origin.

What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for and when is it recommend?

Conversely, psychodynamic psychotherapy often seeks to guide day to day processing of life experiences and to address specific aspects of behavior. While this technique may touch upon root causes of problems and discuss unconscious processes, it does not seek to fully uncover the origins of behavior. Rather, psychodynamic psychotherapy helps you understand how events from your past are negatively influencing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the present. The goal is to increase your abilities for self-reflection and self-examination in order to clarify your motivations.

This treatment approach is often indicated if you:

  • are unable to work productively or devote yourself entirely to work;
  • find intimate relationships unsatisfactory;
  • have difficulty asking for or accepting help;
  • suffer from symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or decreased life satisfaction;
  • or experience difficulties with sexual desire, anger, competition, power, autonomy, and feeling invested in life events.

If you are trying to figure out which treatment approach is best for you, I can review your situation, formulate a diagnosis, and offer you a treatment plan to meet your needs.

You can reach me at  212-591-0152  or via the online form in my contact page.

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