On efficacy of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies


When we talk about psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapies, many people got confused as it is a widespread fantasy that it may have to do exclusively with past history or childhood’s forgotten traumatic events. This is one of the many reasons why people don’t easily consider analysis as they may fear it will bring them back to that past; nevertheless, we have to consider that it is highly possible something inevitably unpleasant might have happened in our lives (read: our past), particularly when we are searching for relief to current pain and sufferance. As said before, one of the cornerstones of psychoanalytical treatment is the possibility of retrieving some degree of faith and hope in the capacity of patients to contain and to be helped to face severe anxieties and difficulties coming both from the outer and the inner world.

However, when we come across efficacy studies, the latest evidence based researches show that, for lasting changes the most effective therapy for many conditions (depression and anxiety etc.) is psychodynamic/psychoanalytic. As successive empirical studies have shown, the evidence demonstrates that not only do patients who choose psychodynamic therapy improve during therapy, but also continue to improve after therapy has finished. Besides, research also shows that, when differently oriented therapists choose therapy for themselves, they often opt to see a psychoanalysts.

As a main difference with other forms of therapy, rather than focus solely on the relief of symptoms, psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy aims to free the patient across a broad range of emotions, current and past if necessary. Also, it helps patients understand how they relate to others, by facilitating their self-exploration and helping them recognise their emotional blind spots, areas of difficulties and more.

A resent research, published in the February-March 2010 issue of American Psychologist, a USA Psychology Journal, compares psychodynamic therapy with other psychological and pharmacological treatments and demonstrates that, in many cases, it is the most effective treatment for a wide range of problems, including depression, anxiety, panic and stress-related physical ailments. In counter-tendency to many non-psychodynamic treatments, the benefits of therapy were also shown to increase after treatment had ended.

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