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Psychodynamic Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) : Healing Trauma through Unconscious Processes and Intrapsychic Conflict

Psychodynamic therapy offers a unique perspective and effective treatment approach for individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By delving into unconscious processes and intrapsychic conflict, this therapeutic modality aims to address the underlying roots of trauma and promote profound healing. In this article, we will explore how psychodynamic therapy can help individuals with PTSD, shedding light on its principles, techniques, and potential benefits.

Understanding Psychodynamic Therapy for PTSD:

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on uncovering the unconscious processes and intrapsychic conflicts that contribute to emotional distress and psychological symptoms. When applied to PTSD, psychodynamic therapy recognizes that traumatic experiences often result in a profound disruption of an individual’s internal world and can lead to significant psychological and emotional distress.

Working with Unconscious Processes and Intrapsychic Conflict:

  • Uncovering Unconscious Processes: Psychodynamic therapy provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to explore their unconscious processes related to the trauma. Through techniques such as free association, dream analysis, and exploring symbolic meanings, therapists help clients uncover hidden emotions, thoughts, and memories that are contributing to their PTSD symptoms.
  • Exploring Intrapsychic Conflict: Intrapsychic conflict refers to the internal struggles and conflicts that arise as a result of traumatic experiences. Psychodynamic therapy helps individuals identify and explore these conflicts, which may involve opposing desires, beliefs, or unresolved emotions related to the trauma. By bringing these conflicts into conscious awareness, therapists help clients work through them and achieve resolution.
  • Processing and Integration: Psychodynamic therapy provides a space for individuals to process and integrate their traumatic experiences within the context of their unique psychological makeup. Through exploration, reflection, and emotional expression, therapists help clients make sense of their trauma, gradually reducing its impact on their lives.

Benefits of Psychodynamic Therapy for PTSD:

  • Deeper Understanding: By delving into unconscious processes and intrapsychic conflicts, psychodynamic therapy helps individuals develop a deeper understanding of the roots of their PTSD symptoms. This understanding promotes insight and self-awareness, enabling clients to gain a more comprehensive view of their traumatic experiences and their impact on their lives.
  • Emotional Healing: Psychodynamic therapy provides a supportive environment for individuals to express and process their emotions related to the trauma. Through this emotional exploration, clients can gradually heal and release pent-up emotions, reducing the intensity of their PTSD symptoms.
  • Personal Growth and Integration: Psychodynamic therapy not only focuses on symptom reduction but also facilitates personal growth and integration. By addressing the underlying intrapsychic conflicts and fostering self-reflection, individuals can develop healthier coping mechanisms, increased resilience, and a stronger sense of self.

If you are considering psychodynamic therapy for PTSD, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • It is important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating PTSD.
  • Psychodynamic therapy is a long-term process, so be prepared to commit to regular therapy sessions.
  • There may be times when the therapy is challenging, but it can be a rewarding experience.


Psychodynamic therapy offers a powerful and effective approach to treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By addressing trauma through the lens of unconscious processes and intrapsychic conflict, this therapeutic modality provides individuals with the opportunity to explore the deeper roots of their PTSD symptoms. Through the uncovering of unconscious material and the resolution of intrapsychic conflict, profound healing and personal growth can be achieved. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD, consider exploring the transformative potential of psychodynamic therapy as part of the journey towards recovery.


  • Herman, J. L. (1992). Trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence—from domestic abuse to political terror. Basic Books.
  • Resick, P. A., Monson, C. M., & Chard, K. M. (2016). Cognitive processing therapy for PTSD: A comprehensive manual. Guilford Press.
  • Shapiro, F. (2012). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy: Basic principles, protocols, and procedures. Guilford Press.
  • Ogden, P., Minton, K., & Pain, C. (2006). Trauma and the body: A sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy. W. W. Norton & Company.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 11, 2023

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