Psychoanalytic & Psychodynamic Therapy

In a nutshell

These therapies focus on your unconscious thoughts, developed during childhood, and look at how these affect you current behaviour.

Recommended for treating

Long-standing problems or for people who want to better understand themselves and why the feel as they do. 

Focal psychodynamic therapy is effective for treating anorexia.

Psychodynamic therapy may also be useful for the treatment of depression with other complex illnesses.

How it works

Psychoanalysis is based on the idea that our childhood experiences have created our current behaviour patterns and thinking process. These thoughts and feelings can become bottled-up (repressed) and may eventually show themselves in later life as depression or other negative symptoms. We might also have had negative relationships when we are children which we later re-enact as adults.

Therapy can be quite intense and is often longer-term than other types of therapy it could be a year or two but can be life-changing for the person.

Psychoanalytic therapy: focuses on your unconscious thoughts developed in your childhood and how these are influencing you now.

Psychodynamic therapy: tries to find out how your unconscious thoughts affect your current behaviour; this focuses on more immediate problems and attempts to provide a quicker solution.

Read more about psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy

How to get it:

  • Because this is a longer term therapy it is not available throughout the NHS, however it may be offered in some services such as services for personality disorders or mood disorders where the person’s difficulties are long-term and need long-term treatment.

  • This therapy type is available by many therapists in the private sector. Privately you can find a counsellor registered with the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) at or UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy).