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  • Writer's pictureMona Ray

Psychodynamic Therapy: How Your Past Impacts Your Current Feelings and Behaviour?

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Last week I wrote about how CBT can help you deal with depression. This week I want to discuss psychodynamic therapy as an alternative to CBT. The psychodynamic originated in psychoanalyse developed by Freud, who sees unconscious thoughts as the drive of our behaviour. Psychodynamic therapy aims to discover the interaction between the unconscious and conscious

mind that determine your personality and motivations. This leads to finding repressed fears and conflicts, which may lead to Catharsis and help resolve your mental problem. I will explain the process and how psychodynamics may help you in dark moments of life.

The critical elements of the psychodynamic theory are 1. The unconscious mind that drives your behaviour; 2. Your behaviour is shaped by past experiences (childhood experiences), genetic wires, and present circumstances; 3. Your inner world relates to your connections with others; 4. Insight (awareness) is more important than emotions and feelings; 5. Mental issues are rooted in your unconscious mind; you must access the unconscious mind to resolve the mental problem. 6. Getting the problem out to your conscious mind leads to insight. 7. Understanding what makes you feel that way is the moment of insight; this is not necessarily the solution to the problem but the beginning of finding the solution via therapy.

Skills that a therapist uses when working this way include active listening, asking questions about your problem, maybe about childhood if it is related to your situation, and how all these experiences make you feel. The therapist observes, analyse, and discusses how your inner wire influences your present relationships with others, or lack of them, which may result in isolation. The therapist practices free association and lets you talk freely without feeling judged, giving you comfort and empathetic understanding. Also, your therapist observes and identifies defence mechanisms such as denial, displacement, projection, rationalisation, reaction, formation, repression, and sublimation that you may use unconsciously. A free association may help you override some of the defence mechanisms, e.g., denial or repression that might lead to anxiety, fear, anger, depression, low self-esteem, and loneliness which may lead to excessive consumption of alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism. Free association with active listening, empathetic understanding, and asking questions may lead to uncovering the root of your problem hidden in your unconscious mind, which may cause various issues in your life, for example, conflict with your family and shaping new relationships.

Free association and talking about past experiences from your childhood help you understand the past's impact on the current patterns of feeling, thinking, believing, and behaving. This insight may help you to start the healing process and change your patterns of thought and behaviour. There is always an action and a reaction; thus, if you change your reaction to the response by giving yourself a moment for reflection to identify the trigger and its origin, you may understand yourself better and change your behaviour patterns for more constructive. Your therapist may ask specific questions about what, when, how, and why you feel that way. This may help you identify the problem by yourself, leading to insight and Catharsis.

Furthermore, exploring your childhood experience may help to discover and understand how this shaped your personality; this may be unconscious, but dwelling on it may help in understanding the root of the problem so the problem may be addressed at the very core and dealt with from there in a conscious way.

To say exactly how this will help you depends on the real issue. For example, if you have relationship problems, you and your therapist must dwell on the situation. For example, to find out if there was substance abuse, maybe you were neglected or overprotected, was there a personality disorder like covert narcissism in your parents etc. Also, you suppose to make sure to what extent you are ready to deal with the painful past and present experiences and how deep you are willing to dwell in your unconscious mind. Also, how prepared you are to make changes or at least start to work on yourself and take control and responsibility for your well-being on all levels. For example, suppose you are in a toxic family or relationship. In that case, it may be worth working on yourself and getting into new connections and friendships instead of staying in toxic and harmful relationships, even if it means cutting off your family. However, this is your work, path, and life, so you and only you can do the work to get through it and get to the other, better side of yourself and your life. The therapist is the guide, but you are the doer.

Thus, psychodynamic is an alternative to CBT that may help you resolve your complex problems and find the source and solution for many mental issues, not just problems related to relationships. If you seek help, it is the beginning you started, so you can also end. The fact that you seek help shows that you are looking for a solution, which is excellent and means that you have the power to find what you desire. Ultimately, you are the catalyst that can make the changes, and your psychotherapist is just a guide.

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