What are the benefits of psychodynamic psychotherapy for patients?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is practiced in our center in Krakow. It is a very effective form of therapy, with a wide range of treated difficulties and mental health symptoms, including: depression, anxiety, panic and physical ailments related to stress, personality disorders, neurosis, anorexia, bulimia and psychosomatic symptoms. According to a 2010 study published by the American Psychological Association, the benefits of such therapeutic work increase significantly after the end of comprehensive treatment.

Psychodynamic therapy searches for psychological sources of emotional suffering. The characteristics of this approach are self-reflection, analysis of interpersonal relationships, complementary work of the therapist and the patient, which aims to transform incorrect patterns.

The aim of psychodynamic therapy is to significantly alleviate the most burdensome symptoms, but also to improve emotional, social and family functioning.

Research on the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy

Research shows that not only symptom-focused therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral approaches, have evidence of their effectiveness. Dr. Jonathan Shedler of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine stated: “Current scientific evidence shows that psychodynamic therapy is highly effective. And the benefits and durability are as great as other psychotherapies.”

There has been a fairly large analysis of 160 studies that focus on psychodynamic therapy, several meta-analyses of other leading therapies, and antidepressants.

Dr. Shedler measured the changes caused by each therapeutic influence. A score of 0.80 is considered large for effectiveness in psychological and medical research. One large analysis conducted for psychodynamic therapy included 1,431 patients. Patients reported with various problems, depression, neurosis, disorders (anxiety, personality, eating disorders), etc. The effectiveness showed a value of 0.97 for the overall improvement of symptoms when sessions with a psychodynamic psychologist took place once a week and lasted for about a year.

Patients were also examined nine months after the end of therapy, the treatment effect was 1.51. It turned out that the effect of antidepressants is much lower – 0.31. This research was published in the journal of the American Psychological Association. These analyses by Shedler, based on the best research in psychodynamic therapy, showed significant therapeutic benefits. The researcher said the effect sizes were impressive even for personality disorders of deep-seated, maladaptive traits that are extremely difficult to treat.

The psychodynamic approach triggers mechanisms that continue to change the patient’s psychological processes, even after the sessions with the psychodynamic therapist are over. In other popular therapies, their effect on mental changes decreases over time.


The current view is that mental distress can be reduced to a list of symptoms, and that healing means dealing with those symptoms without any insight.

In the vast majority of cases, emotional distress is built up from past relational patterns, internal conflicts and the influence of the unconscious, and this is what psychodynamic psychotherapy deals with.

There is a lot of interesting research into other psychological therapies, and as developers of other therapies have taken the lead in recognizing the importance of rigorous scientific evaluation, the reliability of comparative studies is essential. There are materials that do not meet the research requirements. Research conducted by Shedler indicates that psychologists from other approaches also use psychodynamic elements, facilitating self-knowledge, emotional analysis, understanding relationship patterns, etc.

Thanks to research confirming the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy, we can offer it in our clinic in Krakow.

References: Article: „The Effectiveness of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy,” Jonathan K. Shedler, PhD, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine; The American Psychologist, Vol. 65. No. 2.

Piotr Wereszczyński, psychologist and psychotherapist