Psychodynamic Therapy

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Evidence-based interventions , including psychodynamic therapy, are often the best way to treat eating disorders. In psychodynamic therapy at Magnolia Creek, therapists work with clients to find patterns in their behaviors or thoughts. If clients can home in on those patterns, they may realize that they have been around since puberty or even childhood, which can help reveal the causes of these patterns. Some women, for example, may feel uncomfortable eating in front of others, which may stem from something as small as a hurtful phrase or a look from a parent in adolescence. Alternatively, a client may remember disordered eating that started from a young age which stemmed from long-standing mental health issues, or from a history of trauma.

Psychodynamic Therapy Components

Freeform Therapy Sessions

Psychodynamic therapy is different from other forms of therapy in several ways. Most importantly, it doesn’t follow a set schedule. Sessions typically last for one hour, but beyond that, each session is freeform, allowing clients to direct the conversation where they think it needs to go. If a subject gains traction, and the therapist feels that it’s beneficial, then it can become the main topic for the entire session. Psychodynamic therapy helps clients feel like they are more in control of the conversation, and they can bring up issues that matter to them. Without a set schedule, there’s a lot more flexibility for both the therapist and the client.

Exposing Pain Points and Vulnerability

One of the hardest things for clients to do in recovery is to open up and expose their vulnerabilities. Many women, especially those struggling with eating disorders, work hard to appear strong, confident, and in control at all times. However, a vital part of the healing process is letting that guard down and admitting to being hurt. By being vulnerable, even in secluded therapy sessions, clients can begin to heal. Our evidence-based treatment allows our clients to open up without fear, judgment, or shame, giving clients confidence and helping them progress on their roads to recovery.

Revealing Defense Mechanisms

Unfortunately, many clients can’t recognize that their patterns of behavior aren’t new. Through psychodynamic therapy, clients can identify the start of their eating disorder, which can provide insight into the origins of the behaviors and how to end them.

Psychodynamic therapy can be an effective way of revealing a client’s defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms are thoughts, behaviors, or actions that allow clients to keep painful or difficult memories locked away. Sometimes, clients do this subconsciously, meaning that they don’t realize they’re displaying defense mechanisms in the first place, making them that much harder to break down.

One common defense mechanism is denial. Women may sometimes argue that they don’t have an eating disorder and that they’re instead victims of overzealous worriers. Another common defense mechanism is rationalization. Women may say that because of something that happened in the past, their current behavior is logical.

Once the defense mechanisms are identified, they become less effective, making it easier for clients to confront the true issue, rather than hiding behind their defenses.

Kate Fisch headshot - Magnolia Creek


Kate Fisch, LCSW

Kate Fisch is the AVP of Clinical Operations for Odyssey’s Eating Disorder Network. With 17 years of clinical leadership and direct client care experience in the eating disorders field, she has a history of innovation, clinical training, and resource development in a variety of eating disorder treatment settings supporting families, clients, and clinicians.

If you’d like to learn more about psychodynamic therapy or our other treatment offerings, our caring staff is ready to help. Call us or fill out the form to get started today.

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