Psychodynamic therapy has its roots in psychoanalysis, the
long-term "talking cure." Like psychoanalysis, psychodynamic
therapy recognizes that the relationships and circumstances of
early life continue to affect people as adults, that human behavior
results from unconscious as well as conscious or rational motives,
and that the act of talking about problems can help people find
ways to solve them or at least to bear them.
Both psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy rely on the
therapeutic alliance in order to work. The therapeutic alliance is
the personal connection between therapist and patient that enables
them to work in tandem so that the patient can gain insight into
aspects of experience that may be difficult to talk and think
about. As the therapeutic alliance deepens, a therapist helps
patients to understand themselves in new ways, and to become more
mindful of a greater range of their thoughts, feelings,
perceptions, and experiences. Dr. Glen Gabbard, professor of
psychiatry and psychoanalysis at Baylor College of Medicine, has
called the therapeutic alliance the "envelope" within which
psychodynamic therapy takes place.
Although modern therapists frequently question the distinction, it
is useful to note that psychodynamic therapy and psychoanalysis
differ in some ways. During psychoanalysis, patients generally
attend meetings three to five days a week, whereas in psychodynamic
therapy, a patient typically sees a therapist once or twice a week.
Thus the intensity of the therapeutic relationship is greater in
psychoanalysis. Both psychoanalysis and the long-term form of
psychodynamic therapy may be conducted in an open-ended manner,
over many years, with the patient and therapist/analyst taking as
much time as they need to decide about the duration of treatment.
Short-term treatment with psychodynamic therapy, in contrast, is
time-limited and usually lasts less than six months.
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