I am a Psychodynamic therapist.
What does that actually mean?
A psychodynamic therapist is a type of mental health professional who employs psychodynamic therapy, a form of psychotherapy that explores how past experiences, often from childhood, shape a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. This model is drawn from psychoanalytic theory which delves into unconscious patterns and conflicts that may influence a person’s current mental and emotional state. Psychodynamic therapists typically work to help clients gain insight into these unconscious processes, understand their impact on present-day life, and make positive changes for personal growth and healing.
How long does this process take?
Psychodynamic therapy’s duration can vary widely, typically lasting anywhere from several months to several years. The length often hinges on your specific needs, the nature of the issues being addressed, and the therapeutic goals set. While some individuals may find relief and progress in a shorter span, others benefit from a more extended period of exploration and insight to achieve deeper, lasting changes. The way I work is open-ended and when the time is right we will begin to work to an end. The duration is often flexible and tailored to your unique circumstances. I typically work with clients over several years. Trust is key and will take time, which is ok.
How will we know where to start?
In our initial consultation, we will look at what brought you to counselling and why at this moment in time. I am interested in knowing as much about you, starting as early as you can remember. You’ll often be surprised by how much you can remember. Sometimes we forget our earlier years because they were painful and over time we learn to repress those memories as a protection, so it can be helpful to think about what you know to be true. Facts about your home life when you were born, did you have siblings, how old were they, were your parents married, divorced/separated, if so – how was the time split between the two households? All information is valuable in your therapy. We’ll also look at any adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) you may have grown up around.
What are the ACEs?
Many of us don’t even realise what we experienced as children was wrong so we go through life not understanding why we feel the way we feel. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, health anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, PTSD and relationship struggles all come from something, somewhere in our lives. So, in our work together, we will begin to explore the timeline of your life.
List of ACEs:
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Domestic violence
- Parental separation
- Living with someone with an emotional & mental illness (diagnosed and undiagnosed)
- Living with someone who is alcohol dependent
- Living with someone who is drug dependent
- Living with someone who was incarcerated in a prison or young offenders’ institution
Many of us will tick at least one of these boxes. Our work will involve talking about it in a space that is non judgemental, empathic and safe. Slowly, over time, it will become easier to access feelings of sadness and anger at what went on for you and what was out of your control. This is a validating experience and is the starting point for healing. We are not looking to blame anyone, we are looking to give the child part of you a voice, perhaps in ways that weren’t possible during your earlier years.
Did you know that our adult relationships are shaped by how we were taught to relate by our primary caregivers? If we grew up in a household with alcohol, drugs, abuse, or violence, we may learn to distrust others and our environment thus affecting our adult relationships. This can manifest in various ways, and therapy can assist in understanding and processing its origins.
How would we start unpacking relationship issues?
Psychodynamic therapy has a significant focus on exploring how past relationships, particularly in early life, impact current patterns and dynamics in relationships. We’ll delve into the unconscious influences that shape the way you relate to others. Relating or attachment is at the root of our emotional development, shaping our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world, influencing how we form and maintain relationships throughout our lives.
Understanding Relationship Patterns: We’ll explore how early relationships with your caregivers and influential figures have shaped your perceptions, expectations, and behaviours in current relationships. Patterns, such as attachment styles and defense mechanisms developed in response to past relationships are areas we’ll uncover together.
Uncovering Unconscious Dynamics: Psychodynamic therapy aims to bring unconscious thoughts, emotions, and conflicts to conscious awareness. This process can reveal hidden dynamics that affect how you form and maintain relationships, addressing issues like intimacy, trust, communication, and boundaries.
Resolving Inner Conflicts: Through therapy, unresolved conflicts and emotions from past relationships can be explored and processed. This can lead to a better understanding of how these unresolved issues affect your present relationships, allowing you to make changes and develop healthier patterns.
Developing Self-awareness: Understanding your inner world and how it impacts relationships fosters self-awareness. This will enable you to make more conscious choices in your interactions and responses, leading to improved communication and healthier relationship dynamics.
Empathy and Empathic Understanding: Psychodynamic therapy often cultivates empathy towards oneself and others. This enhanced empathy can improve how you perceive and respond to the needs and emotions of your partner and significant others, fostering more fulfilling connections.
When we lose someone or something significant in our lives we are deeply affected so in our therapy sessions together we will also work through any and all losses and how they impact you today.
What is loss and how does it affect individuals?
Psychodynamic therapy helps people navigate loss by exploring its emotional complexity, addressing unconscious reactions, processing unresolved emotions, identifying coping strategies, reconstructing identity, and finding meaning in a supportive, non-judgmental space. We’ll explore all of your losses and allow you the space to grieve them without fear of judgment.
Types of losses:
Death of a Loved One: Losing a family member, friend, or pet can be one of the most profound and challenging losses individuals face.
Relationship Breakdown: Divorce, separation, or the end of a significant relationship can result in emotional upheaval and a sense of loss.
Job Loss or Career Changes: Losing a job, experiencing unemployment, or significant changes in career status can lead to a sense of identity loss, financial strain, and uncertainty.
Health and Illness: Coping with chronic illness, disability, or the decline in health of oneself or a loved one involves losses related to abilities, lifestyle, and future plans.
Loss of Independence: Aging or situations that limit independence, such as moving into assisted living facilities, can lead to feelings of loss and adjustment.
Miscarriage or Infertility: The loss of a pregnancy or the inability to conceive can be emotionally devastating, leading to a sense of loss and grief.
Loss of Dreams or Expectations: Not achieving personal goals, unfulfilled dreams, or aspirations can lead to a sense of loss and disappointment.
Geographical Loss: Moving away from a familiar place, leaving home, or being displaced due to natural disasters or conflict can result in a sense of loss and disorientation.
Financial Loss: Experiencing bankruptcy, financial setbacks, or losing investments can lead to significant emotional stress and a sense of instability.
Loss of Trust or Safety: Experiencing betrayal, abuse, or trauma can result in a loss of trust in oneself, others, or the world, impacting emotional well-being.
These losses can evoke various emotions, including grief, sadness, anger, confusion, and can significantly impact your life, relationships, and sense of self.
I am a professionally trained and qualified psychodynamic therapist and eating disorder therapist offering long term counselling to adults both in-person and online. I work with anxiety, depression, loss, cultural and sexual issues, self-harm, PTSD, childhood experiences and trauma, professional and workplace issues. I specialise in trauma, sexual and domestic violence, ACEs and eating disorders.
I provide a space to feel heard no matter what you’ve experienced.
If you would like to seek mental health services in Bristol, our team can help. At Bristol Counselling and Psychotherapy, we have a team of experienced counsellors who are ready to offer support for a wide range of mental health issues, welcoming individuals into safe and non-judgemental spaces within which to begin their journey to recovery. For more information or to book an initial consultation, please email email@example.com. Alternatively, to speak to us directly, please contact 07751 271 709.