What is psychodynamic therapy?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Rooted in Freudian theory, psychodynamic therapy focuses on putting the clients in touch with their subconscious and identify how it influences behavior patterns. During psychodynamic therapy, a person might explore childhood and past experiences to look for clues as to what's driving current behavior. A therapist using this approach might prompt the client to examine unresolved conflicts and failed relationships to resolve those conflicts or better understand those past failures, thereby relieving psychic stress and thus alleviating the need to engage in addictive behavior.

Through psychodynamic therapy, a person also might examine what benefit the object of addiction offers, and then explore alternative approaches to fulfill this need in ways that are less harmful.