These therapies are based on psychoanalytic theory and practice, founded by Sigmund Freud. They may take place one-to-one or in a group. They may be of long or short duration. The central principle is that much distress has been caused by events in early life which we are no longer aware of. The therapy offers a reliable setting for the patient to explore free associations, memories, fantasies, feelings and dreams, to do with past and present. Particular attention is given to the interaction with the therapist, through which the patient may relive situations from their early life, the ‘transference’. In these ways the patient may achieve a new and better resolution of longstanding conflicts.

Psychodynamic therapy can be used to help treat:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Long-term physical health problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions

The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends psychodynamic therapy for people with depression and other complex illnesses.