What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the psychological roots of distress and our earlier attachments and relationships. The importance of these experiences is critical in developing who you become.

Did you feel the world around you was secure, attuned and responsive to your needs? What did you learn about what it took to meet your needs and for you to feel heard and seen?

Psychodynamic therapy sessions involve a collaborative approach between us. The goal is to help you increase self-esteem, recognise your abilities, gain self-awareness, and communicate more effectively with your significant others.

Your self-awareness is integral to discovering unconscious thought patterns and understanding how past experiences shaped them.

My psychodynamic approach involves the following:

  • Focusing on the effect and expression of emotions. With the help of open-ended questions, transference, and free association, I help you explore and discuss the full range of your feelings, unconscious conflicts, and conscious thoughts.

  • ​Exploring attempts to look at where there is avoidance of distressing thoughts and feelings. Knowingly and unknowingly, people develop defence mechanisms and unconscious processes to avoid painful thoughts and feelings.

  • Identifying recurring themes and patterns. I work to identify recurring themes in your life experiences, interpersonal relationships, thoughts, and feelings. Sometimes, you may know these patterns and unconscious thoughts are self-defeating, but cannot overcome them. In other cases, you may be unaware of these patterns until therapy brings them to light.

  • ​Discussing past experiences. I explore early-life experiences, the relationship between the past and present, and how past experiences have shaped your current thoughts and beliefs.


Sometimes, during our sessions, you unconsciously place feelings, desires, and fears, for real people in your life history onto the therapist. Known as transference, it is where people transfer their feelings from the original person onto the therapist as an object of those feelings.

As your therapist, I can make the connection when it happens, helping you locate the source – the root - of those emotions. During our session, I explore your experience in the present moment, including your reactions and feelings.

Free Association

Psychodynamic therapy often involves free association, where you are encouraged to discuss whatever is on your mind, including the events of the week, past conflicts with others, fears and desires, dreams, or anything you want to disclose about your experiences.

Psychodynamic therapy involves actively listening to the different levels of expressed communication, both from your conscious and unconscious, that, in a sense, is trying to get out.

Other Therapies I Use in Our Sessions

Attachment Theory

Attachment theory focuses on relationships and bonds (particularly long-term) between people, including between a parent and child and between romantic partners. It is a psychological explanation for the emotional bonds and relationships between people. This Theory suggests that people are born with a need to forge bonds with caregivers as children. These early bonds may continue to influence attachments throughout life. Research indicates that insecure attachments early in life can affect behaviour in later childhood and throughout life.

Polyvagal Theory

Polyvagal Theory emphasises how the autonomic nervous system - especially the vagus nerve – regulates our health and behaviour. The Theory describes the physiological/psychological states that underlie our daily behaviour and challenges related to our wellness and mental health. By applying Polyvagal Theory to our personal lives, we can understand how safety, co-regulation, and connection are paramount to a healthy human experience.

Polyvagal Theory shows us that when faced with threat or danger, we first turn to our social engagement system to re-establish safety (we turn to trusted others). If that does not bring us to safety or the danger is severe and immediate, we turn to our fight/flight response. If that does not secure us, our mind and body collapse and shut down.

Jungian Psychology

Jungian therapy focuses more on the source of a problem than on its manifestations or symptoms. The shadow, an individual's repressed experiences and memories, in combination with the collective unconscious, or the inherent hidden beliefs that everyone in a given society at a given time has, resulting in an imbalance between conscious awareness and the unconscious mind that has a detrimental effect on one's emotional life. I use Jungian psychology in ways such as exploring the shadow side of individuals, and feminine and masculine aspects of personality where there may be imbalance, phantasies and dreams.

To book an appointment, please call me on 07307 880349 or email emiliayaucounselling@gmail.com.

Contact Me

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how counselling and psychotherapy works. This enables us to discuss the reasons you are thinking of coming to therapy, whether it could be helpful for you and whether I am the right therapist to help.

To book an appointment, please call me on 07307 880349 or

email emiliayaucounselling@gmail.com.

©Emilia Yau Counselling

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