Psychodynamic Therapy in London & Online
Psychodynamic therapy can be considered a briefer, more concrete, and integrative version of psychoanalysis.
Psychodynamic therapy emphasises the importance of the unconscious, transference, and defence mechanisms for our wellbeing. It harnesses fundamental aspects of psychoanalysis and integrates them into a wider, modern psychotherapy framework without placing heavy demands on clients (e.g., therapy does not have to last for years or take place daily).
This approach explores the depths of human existence and effectively addresses issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress using classical techniques such as dream or transference analysis, while also being receptive to knowledge and practice stemming from other approaches such as CBT
At Therapy Central, we have psychotherapists using psychodynamic therapy who can help you gain precious insights into the nature of your difficulties, better understand the unconscious bases of your thinking and behaviour, and ultimately aid you in making the changes necessary for living a better and more fulfilling life.
Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation and start your psychodynamic therapy in London & Online.
What is Psychodynamic Therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on cultivating self-awareness and a better understanding of your past and how it affects your present and future. It helps us uncover what we avoided or suppressed and how it contributes to our present distress .
For example, you struggle with a pattern of relationships that end in the same way
You had a very unpleasant breakup, where you played your part by being emotionally unavailable and withdrawn. It’s natural to try to avoid thinking about the breakup altogether and especially about your contribution to it. A psychodynamic therapist would help you investigate the motives behind your emotional unavailability. Perhaps it was a passive-aggressive response to something your partner did or an attachment pattern you established with your parents. In this example, uncovering the unconscious motives of your emotional unavailability can help improve your emotional responsiveness and commitment in relationships. In turn, this will allow you to break the unhelpful pattern which brings dissatisfaction to your intimate relationships.
A critical aspect of psychodynamic counselling is that it doesn’t run away from potentially unhelpful aspects of our personalities. Instead, it is by facing these, non-judgmentally and with curiosity, that even our aggression, envy, jealousy, and egoism can be understood and worked with. This will lead to significant changes and more space for those more helpful and empowering aspects we are equipped with.
Psychodynamic Therapy vs Psychoanalysis
- While present-day psychodynamic therapy derives from psychoanalysis, introduced by Freud in the late 19th century, there are some essential differences:
- It’s much briefer. It rarely lasts longer than 20-25 sessions .
- It’s more problem-focused. You’ll choose the issue to focus on, if you wish, right from the start.
- It’s more integrative. Modern psychodynamic therapists are ready to consider an issue from various viewpoints, are often trained in, and integrate ideas and techniques from other psychotherapeutic approaches.
- It’s more evidence-based. Psychodynamic therapy has a growing body of literature suggesting it can produce significant improvements.
- It’s more emphatic, relational and person-centred.
Psychodynamic Therapy (PT) vs CBT
- Psychodynamic therapy is more fluid and generally less structured than classic CBT. Thus, psychodynamic therapy is suitable for people who prefer greater flexibility in working through difficulties.
- CBT, particularly in its briefer forms, tends to be more oriented towards the present. In contrast, the focus of psychodynamic therapy can quickly shift towards the past. This is especially relevant for people with important past experiences they would like to discuss with a therapist.
- Psychodynamic therapy is focused on deep issues and conflicts that all people must face. Within CBT, everyday events are discussed and analysed extensively to uncover how our unhelpful core beliefs affect daily life and functioning, while psychodynamic therapy tends to focus more on insight into the unconscious bases of our existence.
- The goals of psychodynamic therapy may be less specific than the goals of CBT.
Psychodynamic therapists are generally less prescriptive and directive than CBT therapists, who may often assign ‘homework’ to be done in between sessions.
Psychodynamic Therapy Techniques
Uncovering defence mechanisms
Defence mechanisms are like a “cast on a broken leg”, protecting us from feeling painful emotions and the threat of becoming overwhelmed. Although we all have these defences, some can become more problematic. When used too rigidly, defences can negatively affect our growth and wellbeing.
Here are examples of two of the most common defence mechanisms:
Denial is about avoiding acknowledging difficult aspects of reality which we may perceive as impossible to accept.
Here’s an example:
If, after experiencing a difficult breakup, you find yourself saying: “I don’t care”, “I didn’t like them anyways”, “People often walk over me, it’s not a big deal, I was always like that”, then you may be in denial.
In this case, this defence may be protecting you from the complex emotions that you could experience if you did acknowledge that, in fact, “I do care”, “I liked them very much”, or “I feel awful because I let other people walk over me”. However, even using denial soon becomes unpleasant.
Although denial may seem like a helpful solution in the short term, shielding you from difficult emotions, in the long term, it will not allow you to make the crucial changes needed for greater wellbeing, because it prevents you from addressing the problem. Denial is often responsible for delaying asking for help when needed, making matters worse.
With displacement, your feelings for one person are redirected towards another.
Here are two examples:
1# You might observe unpleasant emotions in people stuck in everyday traffic. The constant honking or yelling may serve to displace people’s accumulated and unexpressed frustration aiming it towards others.
2# After discussing with your partner while at a coffee shop, you displace your anger by lashing out at the barista instead of sharing it with your partner.
Although short-term displacement protects you from the predicted negative consequence of telling your partner how you feel, it also makes you aggressive with others. In the long term, displacement will likely make you accumulate more painful emotions without giving you a chance to move on.
Transference happens to all of us, whether in therapy or not. It exists because we are all equipped with specific patterns of relating to important people in our lives (namely, attachment patterns). Transference is when these attachment patterns are transferred from the original relationships in which they developed (e.g. the relationships with our parents or other significant others) to new relationships in the present. In psychodynamic therapy, the transference is analysed within the therapeutic relationship with your therapist.
Here’s an example:
For instance, a therapist may hypothesise that the client transferred his relationship with his father to the therapeutic relationship with the therapist. This type of hypothesis can significantly help a therapist understand your situation, emotions and past relationship. In therapy, transference can offer the unique opportunity of breaking unhelpful patterns of relating to people.
The therapeutic relationship, good rapport, and an awareness of the transference dynamic are crucial factors in psychodynamic therapy. In fact, they are also important in virtually all effective therapies.
Dreams often leave strong impressions on us. Freud called them “the royal road to the unconscious”. They provide a rich universe of free associations and can be used as a psychotherapeutic “canvas”. When interpreting a dream’s meaning(s), numerous issues, emotions, and thoughts can arise, which, when streamlined by an experienced psychodynamic therapist, can lead to important insights and realisations into your psyche.
For example, a recurrent and anxiety-provoking dream about your house being set on fire may lead to unpacking and processing your fears of losing an important romantic relationship representing safety and security.
Analysis of the Past
When client and therapist agree that important events from the client’s past should be discussed, the focus of psychodynamic therapy shifts to distant events that still affect the client. Making sense of your history and important events that contributed to psychological issues in the present can lead to new essential insights, liberating you from the burden of old negative experiences. This is also often called “catharsis” (i.e., cleansing).
Here’s an example:
You may experience commitment issues and feel uneasy when your romantic relationships become more serious. Your partners may perceive you as a bit cold and distant. It may seem that you’ve always been like that and that it’s just how you are. But emotional distancing in your relationships may be a defence mechanism that has come about from your early childhood experiences, for instance, if you experienced unavailable, absent, or unemotional parenting.
The lack of emotional warmth and attention in early childhood can result in great distress. The rare occasions of bonding with parents can be interpreted by the child as threatening because they are inevitably followed by detachment and parents’ withdrawal. So some children (unconsciously) may learn that intimacy is to be avoided and that one cannot get close to someone else because they will inevitably leave.
By “cleaning” the present from the burden of the past, we are clearing the way for a brighter future. We are paving the way for becoming more conscious about the meaning of emotional availability in our present relationships and setting the stage for dropping this defence mechanism, allowing us to finally find more fulfilment in our current and future relationships.
How Effective is Psychodynamic Therapy?
What Issues can Psychodynamic Therapy Help With?
- Stress-related issues
- Substance use
- Personality disorders
- Traumas (e.g. childhood traumas)
- Relationship and Attachment Issues
Does Online Psychodynamic Therapy Work?
When is the Right Time to Start Psychodynamic Therapy?
If you’re not feeling well psychologically, the answer is now. Psychological issues shouldn’t be ignored. It’s best to treat them pre-emptively and as soon as you notice that something’s wrong. The right moment to start psychodynamic therapy or any other approach is when you notice that your struggles prevent you from living a pleasant and fulfilling life affecting your professional, intimate, and social spheres.
What are the Advantages of Psychodynamic Therapy?
- Improving insight into your difficulties and unconscious conflicts.
A deep insight into our struggles and the unconscious dynamics maintaining them can be an emotionally liberating experience. Freeing yourself from the shackles of your past in turn paves the way for a more fulfilling present and future.
- Breaking away from unhelpful defence mechanisms.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses very much on defence mechanisms such as denial or displacement and how they contribute to the issues we’re experiencing. Uncovering unconscious defence mechanisms opens the way for learning more conscious and adaptive coping mechanisms, prompting more helpful ways of responding and engaging.
- Deepening your understanding of interpersonal relationships.
Understanding that everybody’s behaviour is also guided by unconscious processes, such as defence mechanisms, attachment patterns, etc., can make you more tolerant and compassionate towards others. This can suggest more helpful ways to deal with the people around you, avoiding unnecessary conflicts, picking your battles more carefully, and even deciding to walk away when necessary. You’ll more likely draw fulfilment and pleasure from your relationships, particularly intimate ones.
- Improving confidence and emotional and cognitive openness.
Psychodynamic therapy encourages openness and helps you build the confidence and courage to feel all important (unpleasant as well as pleasant) emotions. It also enables you to broaden your perspectives on things. With courage and openness, no topics or emotions remain “taboo”. In fact, it’s precisely when you start “tabooing” things that are happening inside of you that problems begin to emerge
How Long Does Psychodynamic Therapy Last?
Psychodynamic therapy can last, on average, 20 sessions and up to 25 sessions . During this time, you’ll likely notice significant improvements in your wellbeing. Psychodynamic therapy is also suitable for more severe psychological issues that require longer therapeutic work.
Is Psychodynamic Therapy the Right Choice?
Psychodynamic therapy is an evidence-based approach helping you gain crucial insights about the nature of your difficulties and uses these insights to enable meaningful life changes. Psychodynamic therapy is particularly the right choice for:
- Open-minded individuals who are curious about better understanding themselves.
- People who may have found CBT or other approaches unhelpful, too practical, or specific.
- Artistically minded people, as the nature of psychodynamic thinking is somewhat similar to how artists think.
If you’re experiencing some of the following, psychodynamic therapy can be the right choice for you:
- You feel stuck in unhealthy relationship patterns (e.g., repeatedly, you find yourself involved with an abusive partner).
- You find it challenging to allow certain emotions to be felt (e.g., you’re unable to accept your frustration or anger and find yourself suppressing these automatically).
- It seems you’re always making decisions that go against your interests (e.g., procrastination).
- You feel as if something important is missing in your life (your full potential isn’t reached; everything seems to be going well, but beneath the surface, you’re feeling empty, frustrated, and angry).
- You’re noticing that past events are coming back to haunt you.
- You have unresolved issues with your parents.
Common Myths about Psychodynamic Therapy
It’s too obscure
Concepts such as the unconscious, transference, and defence mechanisms for some have an unfair reputation for being “obscure”. This is a myth. In fact, they are also discussed, under different names, within other approaches. For instance, CBT focuses very much on maladaptive coping mechanisms (e.g., substance abuse or avoidance), which work in a very similar way to defence mechanisms.
It’s the same as psychoanalysis
Although psychodynamic therapy stems from psychoanalysis, these two approaches are quite different. Classical psychoanalysis is more general, demanding and longer lasting. Psychodynamic therapy is more problem-focused, briefer, and can be practised integratively.
It’s only about dreams and unconscious
While dream and unconscious analysis can be important in psychodynamic therapy, these are just some of the techniques used. While psychodynamic therapy utilises various techniques and tools, depending on the context, a psychodynamic therapist can also introduce concepts and techniques from other approaches (such as CBT). It all depends on the client’s specific circumstances. The aim is to improve the client’s wellbeing and requires focusing on the client’s unique needs and circumstances.
Our Therapists Specialised in Psychodynamic Therapy
All of our therapists are qualified psychologists, psychotherapists or counsellors registered with several professional bodies. These include the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the British Psychological Society (BPS), as well as BACP, UKCP and BABCP.
The Therapist l had was absolutely brilliant with me. He had patience with me and bit by bit l gained a little of confidence to try and get out and go on the buses.
He deserves an award and if l could l would in the beginning l thought how is this person going to get me back on public transport but he did he gave me the confidence l lost and now have back.
I will never forget him and what he has done for me. I wish him nothing but the best in his life.
My therapist was excellent. I highly recommend her and I am truly thankful for my sessions, I left feeling confident and positive.
The mental tools, systems and approaches I have been able to develop with her and use in my life have been hugely beneficial.
Thank you to all at Therapy Central.
The Therapist really gave me the space to talk and express my feelings and fears in a very comforting environment.
She was there not only to listen, but challenge my thinking, guide me during the uncertainty I was experiencing and give me useful and practical tips to improve my mental health and wellbeing. Highly recommended!
Working with the therapist has been a life-changing experience. Each session has been invaluable, helping me gain a good understanding of CBT methodology enabling me to incorporate ways to combat stress and anxiety in my daily life.
The Therapist shows that she really cares and has the ability to make you feel calm whilst discussing any personal issue.
Fees & Insurances
Therapy, Counselling and CBT sessions are 50 minutes long and are usually held at regular weekly time slots.
15 Minute initial
£105 - £120
Your Private Healthcare Insurance Provider
Psychodynamic Therapy in London & Online
Start psychodynamic therapy with Therapy Central to better understand more profound aspects of your personality that have, up until now, remained under the radar. Our therapists practise psychodynamic therapy in a modern, integrative way. They’ll be able to use typical psychodynamic techniques such as analysing and addressing defence mechanisms, attachment patterns and transference, but also focus on more specific and practical behavioural issues.
Our therapists will tailor their approach around your unique needs and circumstances. They will use the therapeutic relationship as a powerful platform for change to help you make the crucial changes needed for a more fulfilling life.
Get professional psychodynamic therapy in London today and online.
Contact us for a free 15 min consultation with a psychodynamic therapist to see if our help would fit your needs. You can also get in touch via email at email@example.com or call us at (+44) 020 348 82797.
What happens after I make an enquiry?
After receiving your enquiry we’ll contact you to organise a FREE phone consultation. You will be able to tell us more about your specific circumstances and needs and ask any questions you have. Then, if you want to proceed with therapy or counselling, we’ll match you with the therapist(s) with the best expertise to help you with your challenges and send you a list of their available appointment slots. If you’re satisfied with one of these, we can then go ahead and book your first appointment. You can also request to work with a specific practitioner and, depending on availability we’ll try accomodate this.
What happens at my first appointment with the therapist?
Your first session will likely be different than future appointments. You and your therapist will get to know each other and will begin to build a working alliance. It will be a chance to have the confidential space to express your circumstances, feelings and thoughts and being listened to with depth, attention, empathy and without judgement . Your therapist will likely ask you more about your reasons for seeking therapy, and any symptoms you’re experiencing. You may also be asked questions about your past and the history of your issues, as well as how they currently impact your life in the present. Finally, your first session may be a powerful place to discuss what you would like to achieve with therapy and agree on the length, methods and approaches of treatment.
Is online therapy effective?
If you choose online over in-person therapy rest assured that this has been proven to be just as effective as regular face to face therapy, and in some cases even more effective. In addition, choosing online therapy brings additional benefits, for example avoiding longer waiting times, greater flexibility with appointments and you won’t need to travel to our practice. You can enjoy online therapy from the comfort of your home.
How long the Therapy/counselling sessions last?
Therapy/counselling sessions last 50 minutes and are held at regular weekly time slots. On occasions we are able to allow some flexibility. This can be discussed with your therapist.
Do you offer reduced rates/concessions?
We offer low-cost rates at £60 per session to people with a low income, unemployed or students. Please highlight in your enquiry if you would like a concession rate and how you qualify for this. Depending on the availability of our therapists, we’ll do our best to accommodate your request.
Do you have a cancellation policy?
We have a 48 hours no-fee cancellation policy. However you will be charged for sessions missed without giving the full notice.
Our Practice in Central London
Our comfortable and confidential therapy rooms are conveniently located 3 min walk from Oxford Circus station, in Central London (see map below). Change starts with Talking!
 Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1999. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 34.) Chapter 7—Brief Psychodynamic Therapy. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
 Driessen, E., Hegelmaier, L. M., Abbass, A. A., Barber, J. P., Dekker, J. J., Van, H. L., Jansma, E. P., & Cuijpers, P. (2015). The efficacy of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy for depression: A meta-analysis update. Clinical psychology review, 42, 1–15. https://doi.org/
 Depression in adults: recognition and management. NICE
Psychodynamic therapy: Dream analysis description. Available at: https://resource.download.wjec.co.uk/