What is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

Psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy is a form of therapy based on the principles and theory of psychoanalysis. As a treatment, psychoanalytic psychotherapy strives to illuminate the conflicts and unconscious beliefs that contribute to emotional suffering and impasses in life. Through a focus on emotions, dreams, inner experience, and the ongoing impact of significant relationships as they manifest in daily life and in the therapeutic relationship psychoanalytic psychotherapy contributes to a depth of self-understanding and insight into the difficulties one faces. It can help a person learn to handle difficulties in a more adaptive manner, and often results in improved relationships, increased satisfaction with life, and greater insight into thoughts, feelings and behavior.


Who Can Benefit from Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy can be an effective treatment or component of a combined treatment for a wide range of emotional and psychological difficulties. Psychodynamic psychotherapy can be helpful for people who want to know themselves better or hope to become more successful in such areas of their lives as love, work, relationships or parenting. It can also help those struggling with prolonged sadness, anxiety, depression, sexual difficulties, interpersonal problems, physical symptoms without a physical basis, and persistent feelings of loneliness or emptiness. In order to address this question for any individual, a careful evaluation with a well-qualified therapist is an important first step.


On Being a Patient (a short film on psychoanalytic psychotherapy by Garrick Duckler)


Who is a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist?

Psychoanalytic psychotherapists come from a variety of professions: psychology, psychiatry, social work and related disciplines. Most psychodynamic therapists have extensive training and many elect to pursue ongoing additional training beyond their graduate or medical school instruction in order to deepen and extend their skills. All share a commitment to the value of human experience; all have a love of exploration and a curiosity about the mind and the human condition.


Recent Literature and Articles Addressing the Evidence for the Effectiveness of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy has been well documented and current research underscores the curative power of this approach.


1.Lazar, S. (2010). Psychotherapy is Worth It; A Comprehensive Review of Cost Effectiveness, American Psychiatric Publishing.

2. Shedler, J. (2010). The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, American Psychologist, 65, 98-109.

3. Summers, R., Barber, J. (2009). Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Guide to Evidence Based Practice. The Guilford Press.

Let the Evidence Show: Psychodynamic Therapy Provides Effective and Lasting Benefits Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Brings Lasting Benefits through Self-Knowledge