What Makes Talking The Cure In Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
Nelson Mandela


A psychodynamic therapeutic experience weighs heavily on talking because when a person puts thoughts, feelings and experiences into words the conscious becomes equipped with untouched information that can lead to internal psychological change. Because many of the concerns that bring us to therapy are buried in our unconscious and predate language, this process procures time. The therapist employs specific techniques beneficial to a person in becoming ready and willing to talk. This curative therapeutic process provides mirroring and reflexive listening rather than direction so that the unconscious actually has an opportunity to show up and speak. Too much bearing and guidance from a therapist can interfere with the patient’s endemic progression to unearth language. A therapist that lingers for the contact from the patient is affording an essential element of the holding environment in which D.W. Winnicott proclaimed as one of the primary purposes of the therapist so that the client may begin to recognize and meet previously neglected ego needs and facilitate the emergence of the true self. This orientation is designed to bring the client out of disorganized and damaged parts of themselves and into greater organization and higher functioning. In addition to insight and interpretation, classical psychoanalytic methods of growth and development, the process of talking on behalf of the patient invites the therapist into their disorganized world and collectively make sense of the patient’s world. If urged out of his or her inner and private pain that is not yet formulated, a patient may experience abandonment by the therapist. A therapy that concentrates on discovering expression and meaning in all that a patient brings to the therapy in language, actions and somatic representations, offers an unfolding and heart felt acceptance. Insight comes through experience in the therapy dyad and the therapist who respects the depth of human functioning provides a secure base. It is then, through living through these experiences with a patient, that talking proves to be curative. Are you considering talk therapy and have understandable questions, concerns or doubts? Keep following my blog entries as I present a series about the talking cure and how a psychodynamic therapist provides the right environment for anyone to explore their inner world.

Angela Wurtzel