Have you ever found yourself back in the same situation, again and again? Do you have a “type” when choosing a partner? Does it feel like deja vu when you look at recurring friendship issues? “Why do I always feel like this?” “Why does this keep happening?” “Will I ever feel happy again?” “Why do I feel so sad?” “How can I reduce this recurring anxiety?”

Have you ever wondered what sat behind these recurring patterns of thoughts, feelings and experiences?

Welcome to your “psychodynamic”: internal patterns of thinking and feeling that largely determines how you experience and respond to your life in the external world. Born of childhood experiences and our early adaptations to family life, it is like a deep re-occuring pattern that forms an internal lens of seeing and experiencing the world. We have “grown up” and conditions have changed yet still these psychodynamic patterns determine how we experience our thoughts, feelings, motives, wishes, responses, choices, and view of the world no matter whether 7, 17, 37, or 77 years of age.


Psycho = psyche or mind; dynamic = energy

Psychodynamic theory looks to the patterning of the interactions between the conscious mind, the unconsious, and the pre-conscious (dreams, and recent happenings). The unconscious – though unseen – contains our instincts and desires, fears, motives, and any of our dreams and memories that may have been repressed because they were too painful.

Only the right hemisphere is fully functional at birth; it remains dominant for the first 2 to 3 years of life, thus, infants develop patterns of emotional communication prior to developing left-hemisphere-based verbal skills when that hemisphere becomes fully functional around the 3rd year

Cynthia Devino & Mary Sue Moore 2010


Interestingly, the latest findings in neuroscience reinforces these ideas that started with the neurologist and inventor of psychoanalysis Dr Sigmund Freud, and whose ideas were further developed by Carl Jung, Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott, Karen Horney, and Erik Erikson among others. In fact, all of present day psychology has descended directly or indirectly from Freud’s theories.

Through recent brain imaging we can surmise that early childhood patterns of communication are initiated in the right hemisphere – a place of feelings and emotions yet with minimal language – as compared to the verbal analytic left hemisphere of the brain. Crucial memories from early childhood and traumatic events through our lives may be stored in these visual and sensory languages of the right hemisphere but cannot be easily “put into words” by the left hemisphere, even though they still affect our emotions. This ties in with Freud’s idea of the unconscious mind influencing the conscious mind, as played out in our neuroanatomy.


Traumatic memories are thought to be stored, or at the least accessed, through the amygdala, and are visceral in nature. This is why you cannot think yourself out of distress or trauma, but you need to “feel” the feelings – in the safety of the therapy session – or at the very least express these deep feelings in a physical, somatic way such as through breath, movement, acupressure, tapping, mindfulness, and felt-sense techniques.


Psychodynamic psychotherapy has been called the “talking cure” since the late 1890s, but essentially it is more of a listening cure, a relational cure. As Freud himself said, together we “aim to make the unconsious conscious”. Gaining insight from working within our therapeutic alliance: by bringing your issues, thoughts and feelings into the therapy session we work together to untangle and understand and describe the patterns – the psychodynamics – that sits underneath the formation of these issues.

By bringing your issues, thoughts and feelings into the session we work together to untangle and understand and describe the patterns – the psychodynamics – that have sat underneath the formation of these issues. Over time, and with increased self understanding and awareness, comes the opportunity to move forward and create new, more self-caring patterns.


Psychodynamic therapy works within a framework: client and therapist working together. By building a safe place to work through issues, I aim to help you describe, understand, and deal with your feelings and reactions. I do this through a frame of my positive regard, my respect for you, and through a kind of gentle re-examining and re-working of the attachments you have made with others in your life.


We work together, and we work through things together. In the safety and containment of the therapy room we explore the concerns, thoughts, and feelings that are triggered by the external world. We work at your pace and your therapy will follow its own course, as determined by you.


This working together is why it is important to make sure you can bond with your therapist. The best determinant of success in therapy – whether psychodynamic, EMDR, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy DBT, clinical psychology, or even Evidence Based Emotional Freedom Techniques Tapping EB EFT – is the quality of the relationship between client and therapist.


For every new client that comes to Empathic, our first session is simply about meeting each other. We’ll talk about your reasons for seeking therapy and counselling, and how you would like things to be in your future. Research tells us that clients in therapy and counselling are most likely to make positive lasting change when the client’s and therapist’s ideas of future goals overlap.

Note: Rather than spend the first one or two sessions mostly taking your medical and family history, please fill in the Intake Form that will be emailed to you on confirmation of your booking. Not only does this help to start actual therapy sooner, it also helps us to have a focused idea of the outcomes you would like from your therapy.


Please see Fees and Bookings for more information.

“It is a very remarkable thing that the Unconsious of one human being can react upon that of another, without passing through the Conscious.”

Sigmund Freud 1915


Philippa Perry – an English psychotherapist – has written a wonderful insight into psychotherapy in “Couch Fiction”, a graphic tale with Junko Graat’s illustrations. Here is a link to some sample pages of the 2010 edition. There is also a new edition released last year with illustrations by Flo Perry, the author’s daughter available from bookstores.

The School of Life have outlined the ideas and benefits of therapy very succinctly here: