Psychodynamic therapy works for at least 80 percent of individuals, including the very young and the very old.
How young, and how old? One very successful psychotherapist in California, when asked, said that his youngest patient was 9 and his oldest patient 82. In fact, psychodynamic therapy delivers a number of psychological benefits, all of them integral to the patient’s unconscious, and all of them related to the conflict between conscious and unconscious thoughts and wishes.
Therapists using the psychodynamic therapy form of psychoanalysis are responsible for teaching patients how to recognize, reveal, and correct unconscious influences over conscious behaviors. In addition to that, therapists provide a level of support not found elsewhere in the patient’s life, teaching patients how to cope with anxiety, depression, stress, self-destructive behaviors, and psychosocial dysfunction associated with borderline personality disorders.
In some instances, a therapist can even help a patient resolve a creative block stemming from the conscious suppression of unconscious desires. In fact, psychodynamic therapy in particular is strongly oriented toward reshaping the psychological underpinnings of various personality disorders.
Therapy for the real world
Individuals who do not have a major psychological disorder can also benefit from therapy. Conflicts may be as mundane as finding a home for an angry, aging parent, deciding whether to take that high-stress job offer; or how to tell an old friend that he or she is out-of-bounds when it comes to offering marital advice.
In these instances, the therapist offers a unique point of view, perhaps one that the patient never even considered. This may also lead to unexpected solutions. The best part about this, and almost every other exchange between patient and therapist, is that the therapist is bound to your privacy – unless therapy reveals ongoing child abuse, violence against another person, or a legal matter in which the patient’s mental status is involved.
For most people struggling with the ordinary trials and tribulations of life, psychodynamic therapy – which deals with the unconscious motivations of conscious behaviors – can offer insights and solutions that are not only “outside the box” but inherently life-changing. These may include revealing one’s true vocation, changing a lifelong – and self-defeating – behavior pattern, enhancing self-confidence, or helping a patient identify the childhood source of adult problems (like spending too much, eating too much or too little, or other addictions).
What if I’m managing on my own?
You have this really fantastic friend who is always there when you need him or her, listens without interrupting, and always offers the best advice you have ever had.
But if you don’t, and that is where a good therapist comes in.
Even if you have been in a loving relationship for two decades, there are some things that can’t be revealed, and you are just smart enough to know when you could use a helping hand. Or ear. In fact, psychodynamic therapy is ideal for individuals who are perceptive enough to realize when they have gotten in over their heads, psychologically speaking.
How can I tell if therapy will help?
Getting into therapy is like sailing across the Atlantic. The journey is more important than the goal. The more you immerse yourself in the process, the greater your understanding – not just of yourself, and your real needs, but also the hopes and needs of those around you.
The only time that therapy “fails” is when you go in with preconceived notions about what ought to be. As John Lennon so presciently pointed out, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”
Carolyn Ehrlich LCSW, CGP specializes in Relationship Counseling NYC