What do we mean by psychodynamic counselling?
Here at The Counselling Centre, our counsellors are psychodynamically trained. But what does that mean? And what does it feel like to have counselling using this approach?
Let’s start with the word itself. Psychodynamic is a fusion of ‘Psyche’, which refers to all aspects of the mind, including our emotional and spiritual self, and ‘Dynamic’, implying both change and activity. Put simply, it suggests a way of working therapeutically that understands we are beings with complex inner lives. It works on the basis that alleviating suffering can often be best achieved by getting to grips with how the different parts of us work together.
The psychodynamic approach helps you understand yourself in depth. It can reveal insights into the way your mind works, how and why you feel and behave the way you do, how you relate to both yourself and others. It focuses on you as a whole person, not solely on your symptoms, and aims to get to the root of your problems.
How does it work?
Psychodynamic counselling gives you the opportunity to think carefully about your life experiences, including infancy and childhood, since what happens over the course of our lives has great bearing on who we become and how our relationships turn out.
We find clues to what ails us in the present by looking back at the past. Sometimes what happened long ago continues to cast a shadow over the here and now. Unhurried reflection gives an opportunity to separate past from present and see things more clearly.
We are governed, to a large extent, by our unconscious – those parts of ourselves we aren’t fully aware of, or are completely hidden. Sometimes there is a conflict between our conscious and unconscious selves which generates distress – particularly so, when the coping mechanisms we build to block out or avoid painful feelings and experiences start to break down and no longer work.
In psychodynamic counselling, we begin to understand what is in our unconscious mind and see how it affects the way we think, feel and behave. With this insight we can understand ourselves more fully and go on to make more informed decisions in our lives.
What’s it like to have psychodynamic counselling?
Psychodynamic counselling takes place weekly, on the same day, at the same time. Sessions are always with the same counsellor. The structure of the counselling creates a sense of predictability and continuity, within a trusting partnership between you and your counsellor.
In your sessions you are free to talk about whatever you want at a pace that feels manageable. There is never any expectation or pressure to talk about anything if you’re not ready to. Instead, the time and space with your counsellor is where you can openly and safely explore what’s going on in your life, how you feel, what you think, your relationships with others, your dreams, ideas and fantasies. Its an explorative approach, where your counsellor will meet you with empathy and curiosity, and without judgement or shame.
Unlike more behavioural approaches, such as CBT, your counsellor will not tell you what to do, give you advice or ‘homework’. Instead, they actively listen and attend closely to what you bring from session to session. In this way, you will be supported to access your own solutions and generate inner resilience, in ways that support you beyond the completion of your counselling.
Interested in having counselling with The Counselling Centre? Click here to make a first appointment.
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