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Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychoanalysis is both a theory and method for understanding human psychology, and, in particular, the development and function of emotions. Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy are ‘talking therapies’ designed to help people to manage emotional conflicts that manifest in the form of mental symptoms, relationships with other people, and interpersonal and occupational functioning. Psychoanalysis is based upon Freud’s idea that we are not aware of our feelings and the conflicts in them, and the ways that we defend against them. Unconscious mental representations are thought to be developed throughout our lives, and include conflicted emotions that involve simultaneous wishes and fears. Psychoanalysis helps to explore these representations and bring them to consciousness in the context of the therapeutic relationship, allowing for change to take place (Marcus, 2002). Read more
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Recommended Reading

  • Driessen, E., Hegelmaier, L. M., Abbass, A. A., Barber, J. P., Dekker, J. J., Van, H. L., … & Cuijpers, P. (2015). The efficacy of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy for depression: A meta-analysis update. Clinical Psychology Review42, 1-15  download  archived copy
  • Leichsenring, F., Klein, S., & Salzer, S. (2014). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy in specific mental disorders: a 2013 update of empirical evidence. Contemporary Psychoanalysis50(1-2), 89-130  download  archived copy
  • Shedler, J. (2010). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American psychologist65(2), 98 download  archived copy


  • Marcus, E. R. (2002). Psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, overview. In M. Hersen & W. H. Sledge (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Psychotherapy, Volume 2(pp. 423–430). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Academic Press.