What is psychodynamic psychotherapy?
Psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on connecting with the unconscious, which contains the parts of ourselves that are out of our awareness and yet affect our lives and our moods in significant ways. Often, our unconscious stores emotions and experiences that were too painful or threatening, and therefore had to be ignored or denied rather than owned. Unfortunately, however, unprocessed emotions create emotional symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and anger, and can even create physical symptoms such as pain, headaches, and fatigue. Also stored in the unconscious are the many ways in which we modified our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to protect ourselves in the face of these painful experiences. Over time, however, these can turn into rigid ways of relating to the world that are no longer useful, and that interfere with our capacity to have fulfilling, intimate relationships.
In psychodynamic psychotherapy we explore some of the ways that the unconscious manifests in your life, including thought patterns, emotions, bodily symptoms, anxieties, dreams, relationship patterns, and the feelings that arise within the psychotherapeutic relationship. These are all clues that we can trace back to the initial experiences that were too painful or threatening to be accepted into awareness. In the context of a supportive environment these experiences can be processed and eventually integrated, freeing up energy for added joy and creativity.
What is Bioenergetic Analysis?
Modern Bioenergetic Analysis is a type of psychodynamic psychotherapy that incorporates a focus on how the unconscious manifests in the body. As we develop through childhood, our bodies participate in denying threatening experiences by inhibiting breathing and creating patterns of muscular tension that prevent the expression of emotions, such as sadness, fear, and anger. Think back to a situation where you felt angry but couldn’t express it. Did you notice that you held your breath, tightened the muscles of your jaw, or contracted your shoulders? When the holding back of feeling, especially during childhood, is frequently necessary, the inhibition of deep breathing and the contraction of certain muscles become chronic, and eventually even the recognition of that feeling is put out of awareness (and enters the unconscious). This is an example of how the body holds painful past experiences that have not been processed to allow integration.
In Bioenergetic Analysis we work directly with the body, by enhancing breathing, focusing on body sensations, and using expressive movement to bring to light some of the information held in the body that has been out of awareness.