Freud’s most important contribution both to psychology and to intellectual thought was his understanding that much of the mind’s activity goes on below the level of conscious awareness. This constant unconscious activity profoundly influences our lives. These influences include much of our day-to-day behaviour, speech, relationships, dreams, and even our physical health and certainly our emotional well-being.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy places emphasis on studying the symptoms and understanding the dynamics (movement) of memories, thoughts, and feelings in and out of conscious awareness. The insights gained from these reflections allow the old unhelpful patterns to be consciously examined. These patterns may include patterns of behaviour, thought, belief or feeling, as well as general ways of coping, being and relating. This conscious examination of previously unconscious patterns allows new healthier choices to be made. Contemporary approaches places a particular emphasis on how these dynamics are played out in our day-to-day relationships including the therapeutic relationship.
The psychotherapist will sometimes draw attention to seemingly irreverent or trivial actions or non actions. While you may be content with a perfectly rational explanation - that this is just part of the ordinary forgettings, accidents, coincidences and seemingly random happenings of life - the therapist will draw your attention to deeper layers of meaning.
Psychotherapists generally hold that our actions and non actions have complex layers of meaning corresponding to layers of conscious and unconscious motivations and intentions. Like dreams the therapist will consider the possibility that such events are important communications from the unconscious. The exploration or such events often proves very fruitful.