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Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of therapy that can be
very useful to the alcoholic or addict. It helps the user get
down to the root of the problem to solve why they might
be using.

What is Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is an important tool in the addiction treatment process. What it essentially is a form of intensive talk therapy wherein a licensed therapist works with a person to uncover the root cause of their addiction. It is different than other forms of talk therapy because of the way that it addresses the past experiences that may have contributed to a person becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. Other newer counseling methods often focus solely on the present situation that a person is in, so they can’t always help someone who is trapped in a cycle of pain and ineffective coping methods that started when they were very young.
This type of addiction therapy is not a quick process because it relies heavily on the relationship between a therapist and their patient. Trust must be built between them so that the patient feels comfortable revealing their innermost thoughts. In order to speed the process up, many therapists highly recommend that a person who is struggling with substance abuse meet with them at least three times a week for several months. Those who have suffered from severe childhood trauma may need much longer than this though.

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How Psychodynamic Therapy Works

The way that this type of therapy works is through the application of specific techniques. A few of the most common ones to know about include:

Free Association

Free association is a therapeutic method wherein a person is allowed to discuss anything that happens to be on their mind. It is important because of the way that it allows the therapist to get a deeper glimpse of a person’s subconscious thoughts. It is a very subtle counseling tool though because to the average person listening to a therapy session that involves it, it sounds a lot like a regular conversation.

Dream Interpretation

Many aspects of this addiction therapy are based on the ideas of some of the earliest psychology professionals who found that symbolism was very important in understanding someone’s thoughts and fears. So one common method that is used to help in the process is dream interpretation. The way that it works is by having a patient keep a dream journal. Each time that they have a dream at night, they are supposed to quickly jot down the details of it to show to their therapist at their next session. Then, the details of the dreams are all analyzed in depth.

Transference

Sometimes, a person is unable to deal with the painful trauma that occurred in their past because the people who hurt them are unable or unwilling to join in the therapy process. In cases like this, a therapist can deploy the use of a technique called transference wherein the patient transfers their emotions to their therapist so that they can finally deal with them.

Art Therapy

Another technique used in this type of therapy involves asking a patient to create a picture that shows how they feel inside. They can do the work during the therapy session as they talk or complete it at home to show the therapist at the next session. Each of the aspects of the pictures is analyzed though, including the colors, textures, and intricate details that might often be overlooked. Sometimes, the pictures are saved in a file for the patient to view later on so that they can see their progress.

Memory Recall Work

Because this therapy focuses so deeply on the impact that a person’s childhood has on their life, it is also common for a therapist to ask them to discuss their earliest memories. If any of them have been blocked out, only bits and pieces of them might remain buried in their subconscious mind. There are many tools that can be used to help with memory recall work though, such as hypnosis.

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It is very common for a person who struggles with dependence on drugs and alcohol to have more than one type of mental illness. An example of this would be a patient who has both anxiety and depression at the same time. In cases like this, a therapist may need to employ the use of more than one therapy technique at a time. That means that a patient might undergo a certain amount of psychodynamic work before they begin another different kind of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy works very well for patients with dual diagnosis because it helps them to begin to change some of the behaviors that they have that may be contributing to their dependence on drugs and alcohol. Sometimes, psychodynamic work may be done at the same time as cognitive behavioral work though. It all depends on the patient’s current mental health state.

Psychodynamic therapy is just one of the many tools that a therapist can use to help a person to overcome their dependence on drugs and alcohol. There are numerous others that are also highly effective in the treatment process. So if you or someone you know may be interested in learning more about them, call today to talk to one of our trained representatives.

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