Our personalities are shaped through the developmental stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence, and as young adults. During these early stages of the development process we often experience various levels and degrees of wounding in the form of shame, guilt, fear, abandonment, neglect and numerous other forms of embodied trauma. Wounding can be both real or imagined. Often we internalize these unresolved wounds, which then affect how we view ourselves in relationship with others.
It is during this period that we develop our attachment style, or how we attach to others, which can be both secure or insecure. Psychodynamic therapies concentrate on how we unconsciously process our lived experiences, which directly affect the way we see the world, the types of relationships we gravitate toward, the way we feel about ourselves, the world, and others.
As a way of coping with these lived experiences we create protective ‘psychological defences such as avoidance, denial, repression and suppression to name a few. These natural survival instincts and protective defences may have worked for us in childhood, but in adulthood these defence mechanisms tend turn on us and work against us. Défense mechanisms, originally developed to protect us from physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harm by the conscious (ego) in our developmental years must transform and evolve just as we do, or they will work against us. However, when trauma wounding is severe, or for one reason or another, our emotional development gets stunted we get stuck in our defences and struggle to grow out of them. These defence mechanisms keep us stuck and trapped in unhealthy behavioural pattern cycles. These past themes and patterns are re-enacted in our current lives and can create much internal and external pain and suffering.
In psychodynamic approaches the therapeutic relationship is seen as particularly important throughout the healing and personal growth journey. The aim is to understand clients’ unique inner experiences from a social and interpersonal context, and to respond with empathy and genuine presence. We begin a dialogue to mutually explore one’s past and present experiences and relationships to move through the past in to the present. Such as process brings hope and the understanding that our dreams can come into fruition, and we can have a fulfilling, meaningful and purposeful existence. As these new understandings and experiences rise into conscious awareness a healing takes place, and positive changes become possible.