Psychodynamic therapy deepens and enlivens our understanding of ourselves and those around us, and invites curiosity into our experience.
In this therapy, we access our underlying beliefs, assumptions and feelings about ourselves and others and examine them in detail. We learn that our unacknowledged feelings and beliefs have a profound impact on the choices we make, the safety strategies we use, and on the kind of relationships that we have with ourselves and with others.
Through exploration, we become increasingly aware of our tendencies, including those that keep us stuck and further from the life we desire. We learn that firmly held beliefs about ourselves and others have a context. We come to understand that we often uphold these (negative) beliefs (often without awareness) through our actions and/or stagnation.
As such, in this therapy, we bring those beliefs, feelings and assumptions, into consciousness. We gently hold, understand and modify them, finding new ways to respond and relate to them. We do this, even though it is painstaking, because it frees us from their incredible hold over our us.
In psychodynamic therapy, we also analyze the relationship between patient and therapist. We understand that the therapeutic relationship is the vehicle for deep change and growth. Much of our trauma is rooted in the interpersonal experience, therefore our healing must focus on building safety, trust, healthy boundaries, and connection. Mutual discussion of these constructs and all that unfolds in the room between patient and therapist is encouraged as it helps us understand, improve and work through those long-standing interpersonal patterns and traumas.
With each impasse and reenactment, the patient with the help of the therapist, discovers new and more adaptive ways of relating. The relationship becomes a kind of think tank, where new and more connected ways of relating with ourselves and others are practiced and their impact discussed. This careful exploration leads to important insights and allows for deep interpersonal transformation.
Taken together, psychodynamic therapy is about great courage and healing, and connecting, both in the therapy room and outside with supportive others. It’s about taking action, and pacing ourselves while implementing positive changes in our lives.
Much has been written on postpartum depression (PPD). It is well documented and common among postpartum women, experienced in varying degrees. While symptoms range in intensity, when moderate to severe, they can be upsetting, shameful, and disregulating. Negative emotions can be especially difficult to tolerate when they occur in situations that involve internalized ideals of the perfect (postpartum) experience. For example, a mother who is postpartum, may, at times, experience feelings of bliss, and a deep love and connection with her newborn, yet at the same time experience feelings of dread, sadness, anxiety, panic, detachment, and guilt, in addition to tearfulness and crying. Further exacerbating this experience are extreme hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, feeding difficulties, and the massive life change of being fully responsible for another life; change occurring in full throttle.
Again, the degree to which women feel this polarizing state varies. When "baby blues" and other symptoms (mentioned above) do not remit or worsen, a diagnosis of PPD is considered. When left untreated, some women may be left with a lingering sadness, that waxes and wanes, often suffering in silence. Although many can function in this state, it is not optimal for mother or baby, and will not go away on its own. Positively, help is readily available and treatment options are promising. You do not have to suffer; speak up, and although it can be difficult, try to discuss your experience with those you feel close to, especially your medical provider.
Together, medical and mental health professionals are openly discussing PPD and the postpartum experience with their patients and loved ones. They are working to diminish the stigma of PPD, along with social service organizations, the media, family and friends. By giving PPD and related symptoms a voice, we can reduce shame, and enable earlier detection and intervention, so that women can stop suffering and feel like themselves again.
Dr. Ariela Bellin
If you or someone you know is suffering with PPD or related symptoms, please find help in your area. Reach out to your doctor, nurse or mental health specialist.
Dr. Ariela Bellin is a Licensed Psychologist in Great Neck, and Brooklyn, New York.