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Psychodynamic Intervention: Techniques & Examples

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
People seek the help of a counselor for many reasons and they receive many different types of therapy. This lesson discusses psychodynamic intervention as it is used in therapy, what it is and how it can help different types of problems.

To Gain Confidence

Elaine's work as an emergency medical technician (EMT) required quick, confident responses to a patient's injuries. Unfortunately, Elaine was not confident. She was an exceptional medic who understood almost automatically what she was supposed to do in most of the cases of trauma she was involved in, but she sometimes froze when it came to decision-making. More than once, her partner had to make the decision that she was reluctant to make.

She sat outside of her supervisor's office for the second time wondering what the verdict would be. Elaine had frozen at a critical moment and the situation was now being evaluated. When she met with her supervisor, it was suggested that she seek counseling. Her knowledge was not a question, but her reluctant decision-making could result in a fatality. A friend told Elaine about a great therapist who used psychodynamic intervention techniques.

Psychodynamic Intervention

People often move forward in life despite negative events. Unfortunately, it is also often the case that people have not completely resolved the negative event or its elements. Over time, these elements can become subconscious motivators; things of which the host is not even aware. This is often termed unconscious, meaning things that happened to an individual that have become lost within the brain. These may be painful memories that are no longer remembered.

That is what psychodynamic interventions seek to weed out. Psychodynamic intervention considers the negative aspects of an individual's personality (such as having little confidence in themselves) and seeks to find the hidden trauma that causes those reactions.

No matter whether the individual actively remembers an incident or not, the subconscious does and there is always a conflict going on until that problem is resolved. On the surface, a verbally abusive father may not affect a person once they reach adulthood, but underneath there can be a latent effect. It is this latent effect, which causes problems on the surface, that psychodynamic therapists are trying to get at.

What Type of Problems do These Interventions Help?

These unconscious motivations can manifest themselves in a multitude of problems. Among these are:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Uncontrolled moments of anger
  • Unfounded resentments (at least to the individual they seem unfounded before the incident is recalled)
  • Self-harm (such as cutting) that seems to be unrelated to any present experience

Many other problems are addressed by the psychodynamic approach. Whenever an individual is haunted by their past and needs to resolve those issues, this type of therapy is important.

What are Psychodynamic Techniques?

In psychodynamic therapy, the counselor seeks to get at those forgotten, nagging issues that have caused dysfunction on the surface. This can be done using many different techniques.

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