Psychodynamic Therapy for Veterans: What It Is & How It Works

Effective mental health treatment often utilizes many different types of talk therapy. Otherwise known as psychotherapy, each has its own benefits and specializes in unique aspects of human behavior. For those interested in gaining insight into how they act and why, psychodynamic therapy could offer a good fit.

What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy originates from psychodynamic theory, which was first introduced by American neurologist Sigmund Freud in an effort to explain certain aspects of human behavior. Specifically, the psychodynamic approach suggests that factors beyond someone’s conscious awareness influence their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

In many cases, these unconscious factors refer to forgotten or repressed memories from someone’s past, such as certain childhood experiences. Veterans may find themselves affected by other past memories as well, especially those from their time in the military. For example, combat exposure or the loss of a friend can have long-term ramifications on a veteran’s mental health.

To move past these experiences, it’s important for them to process their memories in a complete, healthy manner. Psychodynamic therapy can play an important role in this goal, as it aims to bring unconscious behavioral influences into conscious awareness.

Once a patient is aware of why they act in a certain unhealthy way, they can assess its impact and learn how to change it into a healthier behavior. As they participate in more sessions, they develop a higher understanding of their own actions and gain a better sense of control over their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

When Is This Therapy Used?

Like many other types of talk therapy, psychodynamic therapy can treat a wide assortment of mental health conditions. As a few specific examples, evidence suggests that psychodynamic therapy is effective in treating:

With that being said, some people are more likely to benefit from psychodynamic therapy than others. For instance, experts often recommend it to those who find it difficult to form and maintain relationships with others. People who feel lost or without meaning in their lives may find this type of therapy beneficial as well.

In addition, to get the most out of psychodynamic therapy, it is also important for a patient to demonstrate a willingness to discuss their life history. If someone is not open to self-reflection or interested in gaining insight into their own behaviors, this form of therapy is unlikely to be the best choice for them.

How Does It Work?

How Does It Work?

A single session of psychodynamic therapy will usually last somewhere around 45 minutes. During this time, psychodynamic therapists encourage their clients to speak openly about anything on their minds, including fears, desires, current problems, and past experiences.

Talking about the past can pose a challenge to some individuals, particularly if they used avoidant coping techniques up to that point. However, many memorable or traumatic experiences can affect how someone thinks, feels, and behaves on a daily basis. As such, tracing behaviors back to their source is a crucial part of psychodynamic therapy.

Other common subjects someone may address during psychodynamic therapy include:

  • Patterns. Patients are encouraged to identify patterns, especially if they are unhealthy or self-defeating. Then, they discuss ways they can change them moving forward.
  • Emotions. After exploring unconscious factors that affect behaviors, patients often develop a higher understanding of their emotions. In particular, they may gain insight into the “why” behind the ways they feel.
  • Relationships. Assessing one’s relationships is an important part of the process. Combining their newfound knowledge about patterns and emotions, patients can alter how they act around and respond to other people.

Is Psychodynamic Therapy Effective?

Heroes’ Mile implements evidence-based treatment options throughout our therapeutic programming. As such, we use psychodynamic therapy because it is backed by supportive data that proves its efficacy.

In fact, the American Journal of Psychiatry found that psychodynamic therapy is just as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is one of the most popular tools used to treat similar conditions.

A different study, published by the American Psychological Association, found that psychodynamic therapy not only works in the short term, but offers lasting benefits as well. In other words, patients who successfully undergo psychodynamic therapy will continue to reap its rewards well into the future.

However, keep in mind that the success of any type of therapy ultimately depends on an individual’s unique situation. As mentioned previously, some people benefit from certain forms of therapy more than others. Thus, if you’re trying to decide what type of therapy to try, you should not ask, “Which one is the best?” but instead, “Which one is the best for me?

Try Psychodynamic Therapy at Heroes’ Mile

If you believe psychodynamic therapy could benefit your mental health, consider reaching out to Heroes’ Mile. We are a mental health and addiction treatment center that specializes in trauma-informed care for veterans and service members. Psychodynamic therapy makes up part of our treatment programming for individuals with depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and more.

For more information, please call us at 888-838-6692 or fill out a confidential inquiry form through our website. Our admissions specialists can answer any other questions you have about certain types of therapy. Alternatively, if you’re ready to start today, they can walk you through the next steps of the enrollment process.

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