Individual Counseling | Therapeutic Approach

Individual Counseling | Therapeutic Approach



Folktown Counseling is a psychodynamic practice, we utilize a contemporary relational approach of psychotherapy that is informed by the psychoanalytic tradition.


The Psychoanalytic Tradition.

The Psychoanalytic tradition dates back to Sigmund Freud in late 1800s, and evolves through the mid century with theorists like Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott to eventually arrive at the contemporary work of writers like Karen Maroda and Nancy McWilliams. The many theorists that span this roughly 100 year tradition have all contributed to the field of psychology, providing perspectives that range from Ego Psychology, Object Relations Theory, Attachment Theory, Person Centered Therapy and Contemporary Relational Psychotherapy. It is worth noting that most counseling approaches today actually stem from this tradition (an example being Cognitive Behavioral Therapy founded by Aaron Beck who, himself, was an analyst).

A tradition more than a technique...

We view Psychodynamic therapy as more of a tradition than a technique. Examples of a technique might be EMDR, Mindfulness or Lifespan Integration. However these type of therapy techniques are all based on deeper themes that originate from within a larger psychological tradition. So different types of therapists, counseling services and techniques can all be found within the same tradition. A psychodynamic therapist can utilize any variety of techniques but they do so from a contextual understanding of their tradition.



What are Key Concepts of Psychodynamic Therapy?


Psychodynamic therapy is insight-oriented, it examines the past to engage your present.

Psychodynamic therapy provides a deeper understanding of yourself by observing your early life experiences to allow insight on how they affect you today. Typically this includes looking at the formative relationships with your parents, caregivers and siblings to discover your early attachment style. Understanding these patterns of the past can help you better navigate your present.

A Psychodynamic therapist raises your self-awareness to encourage self-empowerment.

Having a better understanding of yourself allows you to dive into more deep-rooted aspects of your story, relationships and gain a graceful understanding of your personality. Psychodynamic therapy strives towards gaining greater self awareness to empower your present, heal the wounds of your past and grow into healthier patterns for the future.

Psychodynamic therapy examines subconscious and unconscious levels of the mind.

Psychologist believe the mind has several levels (like the floors of a house).  The conscious mind is what we’re actively thinking about, the subconscious is what we’ve learned but do not need to access regularly (like how to ride a bike), and the unconscious is what we’re not aware of at all. The aim of therapy is to help make the subconscious (and possibly the unconscious) conscious.

Psychodynamic counseling is based more on the individual than on a system.

While a Psychodynamic therapist will explore your family system the counseling itself remains individual. It is very rare that a family member would sit in on individual counseling because it changes the way a client relates to his or her therapist.

Psychodynamic therapy is longer-term.

There is no set end date to psychodynamic therapy as it is determined by the client. It's often a long-term treatment, lasting anywhere from six months to many years. In traditional psychodynamic therapy, the overall duration depends on your specific needs and situation.

What conditions does a psychodynamic therapist treat?

Psychodynamic therapy is useful in treating most mental health disorders. It is often used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, panic disorder, relationship conflicts, disordered eating, sexual dysfunction, PTSD, addiction and adjustment disorders.

How do I find a psychodynamic therapy or therapist near me?

When trained from a psychodynamic lense a therapist will generally list that modality within their counseling profile. When using a therapy search site like Psychology Today or Good Therapy users can generally filter their search to look for therapist that align with a psychodynamic approach.


What is relational therapy?

Early forms of psychoanalysis was initially based on individualism, therapist would often sit behind their client to avoid distracting the client from free association. But by the mid 1900's therapy had evolved to more a didactic (two person) process where the therapeutic relationship became a valuable part of the treatment.

The focus on relationships started as early as 1935 when Melanie Klein began to study the formative parental relationships in infants and Rene Spritz (a Freudian analyst) began to observe the effects of orphaned children. By the 1950's British Object Relations theorists would further this work and by the 1970's  John Bowlby and Mary Answorth developed their concept of attachment theory. Shortly thereafter terms such as Relational Psychotherapy Person Centered Therapy or Contemporary Relational Psychodynamic Therapy, began to emerge from a more relational style of therapy.

Person Centered Therapy.

Relational perspectives in psychotherapy continued to emerge in the mid century. One of the more familiar relational perspectives was Rogerian Therapy or Person-Centered Therapy.  Carl Rodgers (1940s-80s) shifted the therapeutic focus more towards encouraging growth and development of a client than just the treating of their symptoms. Rogers was also responsible for the term "counseling" for which Folktown Counseling takes its name.  Hallmarks of Rogers's person-centered therapy include: living in the present rather than the past or future; organismic trust; naturalistic faith in one's own thoughts and accuracy in one's feelings; a responsible acknowledgment of one's freedom; and a view toward participating fully in our world and contributing to other peoples' lives. This mid century emphasis in psychology helped establish therapy as a useful process for everyone - not just those with an debilitating illness.



How does psychodynamic therapy compare to Evidenced Based Therapies?

First it should be noted that the term “evidence based,” as it relates to counseling practices, evolved in the 1990’s in response to insurance companies looking to limit the duration of therapeutic treatments.  Most counseling therapies can show some evidence of impact. However it is difficult to demonstrate over a longer period of time. Research in psychology tends to be lower funded (as opposed pharmacology) and therefor most of its recent studies are shorter term.  There has been little funding for long term psychological studies that would cover the positive aspects of say a 5 to 10 year treatment where clients grow and thrived in therapeutic care. So with this context in mind we feel the term "evidence based" has became a buzz word for short term therapy (mainly Cognitive Based Therapy) preferred by insurance companies to limit their costs.

Historically speaking however the most scientific data we have in psychology is the significant research and data that emerged in the 1970’s from attachment theory (which essentially came from a psychodynamic ). Bowlby and Ainsworth produced the most convincing scientific data to date in their research on early childhood development. However their research was done before the term "evidence based" was widely used.



What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and how does it differ?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (often shortened to CBT), focuses on recognizing negative thought patterns and changing thoughts and behaviors and feelings through concrete skills. The focus is on finding practical solutions to your present-day challenges instead of looking for the root cause of the problem.

CBT often entails homework assignments.

Sessions often involve homework assignments, also called "action plans,” for you to implement outside of sessions. These assignments may consist of journaling, writing self statements, practicing positive reinforcement, meditation and breathing exercises.

CBT is often a short-term treatment, lasting 2-3 months.

This type of therapy is typically more short-term, usually eight to 12 weekly sessions, over the course of two or three months


Are some mental health conditions better served by certain types of therapies?

Some mental health conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, acute eating disorders, acute alcoholism or drug addiction may require more of a cognitive behavioral approach when acute and/or present with safety concerns. Other conditions such as bipolarity or Schitzophrenia may require a psychiatrist to prescribe medications but treatment is often improved when accompanied with therapy. Some personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder are often treated with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) which is a highly structured version of CBT.