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Psychodynamic therapy as a treatment for depression

by Sarah Graham
Monday 24 November 2014
2495 8294

Psychodynamic therapy is recommended as a treatment for depression by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). We asked three RSCPP therapists to explain the treatment in more detail, and answer some of the questions you may have about treating depression through psychodynamic therapy.


What is psychodynamic therapy and how does it work?

Therapist: Accredited  Counsellor Tricia St Clair
Psychodynamic therapy links what is happening to you now with events and relationships from your early years, finding patterns that can be understood. Psychodynamic work is concerned with making unconscious aspects of your behaviour, thoughts, feelings, conscious. The relationship between you and your therapist is an important part of the work, so a psychodynamic therapist will be alert to the client/therapist relationship. This can help the therapist understand the unconscious processes that you are struggling against.
Accredited Counsellor Tricia St Clair


How can psychodynamic therapy be applied to treating depression? 

Depression is often linked with a sense of low self worth and feeling unable to influence things. If you have depression, psychodynamic therapy is a way of exploring and understanding how experiences in the past, often in early years, have affected your view of yourself and your ability to influence things in present circumstances. If you were always told you were no good and would never amount to much, then it's likely that you'll believe it, although you may not be aware of how that belief is affecting the way you respond to things now. By uncovering the causes of those unconscious beliefs, it becomes possible to change them and to see things differently.


How long does psychodynamic therapy last?

NICE typically recommends 16-20 sessions of psychodynamic therapy to treat depression. This may vary depending on your needs.


What outcome can I expect from psychodynamic therapy as a treatment for depression?

Therapist: Accredited  Counsellor Roslyn Byfield
Understanding and acknowledging the significance of difficult thoughts, feelings and patterns of relating can help get to the roots of difficulties and why you may be unconsciously attached to unhelpful reactions and behaviours, for example. This awareness can improve your sense of self and agency, enabling you to make different choices, leading to lasting change. The awareness gained from psychodynamic work can bring valuable insights to previously mystifying thoughts, feelings and behaviours, enabling a sense of relief and autonomy.
Accredited Counsellor Roslyn Byfield


How can I tell if a therapist is qualified to offer psychodynamic therapy?

All therapists on are accredited, registered or chartered by a UK professional body. Therapists who offer psychodynamic therapy will in addition have completed a course in psychodynamic practice.

RSCPP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Snowdon

Finding support

You can find out more about symptoms and causes of Depression, including how to find a therapist. If this route is not appropriate for you, your GP can assess you and direct you towards support.

Find a Therapist working with Depression

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Updated 24 November 2014