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What does a session look like?


Psychodynamic therapy sessions involve: 

1) Checking in on previous sessions, and deciding on what to work on 

2) talking freely about whatever is on the (conscious) mind


3) deepening understanding of thoughts feelings and behaviours by identifying patterns, themes and connections to past

3) integrating self awareness and new insights

Psychodynamic therapy is often an open-ended and not time-limited therapy because it allows time for individuals to uncover, process, and integrate insights, learning, and changes as they progress.


Techniques such as free association, listening, reflecting, understanding defenses, and transference are applied in context as clients work through painful and meaningful memories and present experiences in collaboration with their therapist.

Psychodynamic Therapy

What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is a relational therapy that is based on psychoanalytic traditions and lifespan development. It is a talk-based therapy focuses on the unconscious feelings, thoughts, conflicts, and dynamics that arise in relationships with oneself or others. These unconscious factors contribute to current difficulties with emotions, behaviours relational patterns. Essentially, psychodynamic therapy supports psychological growth by helping clients to develop greater awareness and access to the human experience.

This approach works to uncover and understand unconscious processes that manifest in clients' present behaviour and symptoms and their connection to formative childhood experiences. Ultimately, the aim is to achieve self-awareness and understanding of their past's impact on present behaviour. This approach is predicated on the belief that comprehending one's interpersonal patterns is vital to self-awareness, and to developing mutually satisfying relationships.

How does Psychodynamic Therapy work?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy stems from four early schools of psychoanalytic theory: drive theory, ego psychology, object relations, and self-psychology. It is also informed by relational therapy, the intersubjective approach to therapy, and lifespan development because of its focus on the therapeutic alliance and the relationship as central to therapy.

Psychodynamic theory emphasizes human functioning and malfunctioning as driven by a complex interaction of internal forces that do not simply respond to external factors. Its techniques and approaches encourage individuals to talk about their thoughts, feelings, and what unconscious experiences may have shaped their personality and behaviours. Through such understanding and new awareness, individuals can be empowered to effect positive changes by developing an enhanced level of conscious understanding of their feelings and actions.


The aim of a psychodynamic therapist is to help clients pursue, uncover, reveal and express their true self, supporting their growth and authenticity on a deeper level.

More Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can benefit from Psychodynamic Therapy? 

Psychodynamic therapy can be helpful in treating a variety of mental health concerns, as well as clients who feel generally dissatisfied with their lives or seem to repeat patterns that aren't making them happy. Multiple studies have found that psychodynamic therapy can effectively treat and maintain progress in people who have trauma and developmental trauma, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, grief, eating disorders, substance use disorders, relationship issues and many other difficulties.

Can Psychodynamic Therapy work for me even if nothing else has worked?

Psychodynamic therapy seeks to understand the root of a client's difficulties, this approach can be especially helpful for people who have had limited success with manualized therapies like CBT and DBT due to difficulties with applying the coping skills they are learning. The longer term approach can also relieve the stress of having time limited blocks of sessions, providing a more holistic approach with long term stabilizing benefits.

How can I prepare for an Psychodynamic Therapy session?

You may find it helpful to journal or reflect on goals outside of sessions but this is not necessary for psychodynamic therapy to work. Much of the benefits are gained in the process of exploration within sessions.

How much work do I have to put in outside of my sessions?

Psychodynamic therapy typically does not require any homework however clients may choose to read relevant books or listen to podcasts that deepen or support their exploration and this material can be brought into therapy. 

How long is Psychodynamic Therapy treatment?

Typically clients in psychodynamic therapy determine the length of treatment based on their goals and progress. 

Studies have found that successful short-term psychodynamic therapy generally lasts for 25–30 sessions over a period of 6–8 months, while long-term psychodynamic therapy — according to one study — may last for longer than a year or span more than 50 sessions. This can vary greatly with clients who are working on more deeply rooted early childhood experience and attachment trauma. 

Psychodynamic session are 50 minutes in length. 

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