BACKGROUND: With psychoanalysis, therapist-patient dialogue was invented as a method to explore and treat mental problems. Many contemporary forms of psychotherapy have been inspired by it. “PDT,” psychodynamic therapy combines classical psychoanalytic theory, object relations theory, and attachment theory. In essence, PDT is “psychoanalysis but less frequent and often shorter.” There is thus no fundamental difference between the two. Regarding research, PDT is evidence-based through hundreds of scientific evaluations, and most studies show no difference compared to CBT. However, there are very few outcome studies of analysis because it is difficult to find adequate control groups for a treatment that is so prolonged.

Even methods that emphasize their differences from psychoanalysis, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy, initiated by psychoanalyst Aaron Beck), today show a greater interest in the relationship between patient and therapist and how the therapist’s personal experiences affect their ability to understand and help the patient.

There are hundreds of psychotherapy methods often competing for media attention: CBT versus PDT, individual versus couples therapy, medication versus psychotherapy, etc. The large number indicates that there is NO single or quick-fix method for your troubles. You might want advice, medication, psychotherapy. Which method should you choose?

First, a general piece of advice: The more interested you are in understanding why you have your psychological problems, what they are trying to “say,” whether they may be related to other issues you have had over the years – the more you are leaning towards PDT and psychoanalytic therapy. The more interested you are in getting rid of your symptoms, learning techniques to “tame the beast,” for example, compulsions or depression symptoms, the more you are leaning towards the CBT path.

At the same time, I want to downplay the importance of a single treatment method. The most important thing is that you meet a responsive licensed psychotherapist and feel that the two of you will be able to work together. Then it may turn out that you, who “just wanted tools to tame anxiety,” become curious about why you are so worried. Maybe you change your mind and want psychotherapy. Or vice versa, your desire for curative talks may not have been realistic. Instead, a period of treatment with psychotropic medication was needed.

So, choosing a treatment method is difficult. But don’t despair! The crucial thing is the personal connection with your therapist. So, search online, check if the practitioner is licensed as a psychotherapist, and book an appointment. Feel it out; already at the first meeting, you can get an indication if the “personal chemistry works.” It may change later, but take your gut feeling seriously! The next tab explains how psychotherapy works.