My background and training is psychodynamic. Psychodynamic therapy uses an approach to understanding and working with people that includes the following:
- listening deeply and empathically, without judgment or preconceptions
- labeling emotions and understanding how you express them
- discovering ways you may avoid feeling or expressing emotions, and how this affects you
- identifying patterns of thoughts and behavior that may be repeated over time
- understanding the impact of past experiences and how they may shape your life in the present
- valuing the importance and quality of relationships
- addressing the therapy relationship itself, and how it can shed light on your real-life difficulties
All of the above takes place in the context of a joint endeavor between therapist and patient. The therapist acts as a skilled listener and observer who can help illuminate the contours of your unique story, and in the process, open up new ways of being and relating.
(For a more detailed definition of psychodynamic psychotherapy, see Shedler, J. (2010), The efficacy of psychodyamic therapy. American Psychologist, Feb-Mar, 98-109.)
There are a number of psychotherapy orientations, and no one approach to helping people is the right way. Each of the major approaches to psychotherapy offers carefully constructed, tested and validated ideas and techniques. Sometimes integration of different techniques can be very effective for particular types of problems. For example, I use my training in mindfulness meditation, which emphasizes non-judgmental awareness of one’s moment-to-moment experience, to address anxiety and other symptoms when appropriate.
(For an introduction to mindfulness, see Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, NY: Hyperion.)
When relevant, I also integrate my knowledge of sex therapy techniques, which are primarily behavioral, within the context of my psychodynamic approach.
When you go to see a therapist, it is useful to know something about how he or she works. But most importantly, you should feel comfortable, safe, and understood in talking with that person about the issues that bring you to therapy.