Dr. Judith D. Bertoia, Registered Psychologist, Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor

Psychodynamic Therapy

People come into psychotherapy for a variety of reasons. Commonly they are struggling with anxiety, depression, stress, current trauma, loss or other life transition, or a chronic illness. Clients also seek therapy when troubling issues arise from past trauma which can include abuse, violent encounter, or significant betrayal, or when recurrent difficulties with other individuals such as a former spouse or extended family member interfere with daily life. Sometimes people are concerned about a recurring pattern in life, such as difficulties with co-workers, unhealthy relationships, or avoiding intimacy.

Clients also chose this therapy, especially for longer term psychotherapy, because they are experiencing a desire to grow, to develop more of their potential, and to explore yearnings for greater meaning, purpose, and authenticity in their lives. Depth psychology, especially C.G. Jung's influence, sees the basic energy of the human psyche as moving towards deepening the relationship with something greater than oneself and fulfilling one's personal potential or destiny.

Psychotherapy addresses the current situation in day-to-day life, working to change emotions, behaviors, and perceptions that are creating difficulties. But within psychotherapy there is always an awareness that part of the source and the reason for the intensity of emotional responses to the difficulty lie in unconscious material. What is known or seen in oneself compared to what is unknown or unconscious is similar to what we see of an iceberg above water or a tree above ground compared to what lies underwater or underground.

In short term therapy the focus is oriented to resolving specific, targeted difficulties, with some insight into the underlying dynamics. In longer term psychotherapy the focus is also on resolving the current difficulties, but it is done in conjunction with understanding the influences from the unconscious. By becoming more aware of these influences, clients are better able to consider their implications when facing future challenges.

In long term psychoanalysis, clients work with the therapist to bring unconscious material into awareness. By its very nature, unconscious material in unknown. Part of a therapist's role is to develop a positive relationship with the client. This relationship helps contain newly encountered unconscious material. The therapist helps clients bring troubling and positive unconscious content into awareness and then helps the client integrate those elements into more intentional ways of being in the world. The goal is to use the positive elements to strengthen and enhance one's daily life, and to let go of those aspects that are no longer adaptive for current life or that have created distress and dysfunctional patterns. From a depth psychological perspective this growing insight to and relationship with the unconscious deepens the connection to a higher purpose or power. C.G. Jung called this process individuation.

The pine tree lives for a thousand years
The morning glory for a single day
Yet both have fulfilled their destiny.
— Chiyo

In psychotherapy clients often participate in various creative expressive activities in conjunction with verbal therapy. Much of the time these are done outside of the therapeutic hour as a way of maintaining a creative dialogue with the unconscious. We may create art, sculpture, poetry; we may focus on writing or on inner dialogues; we may work to understand dream content or embodied experiences. We honour soul by giving voice and concrete reality to its previously unrecognized interior images. The relationship between therapist and client nurtures and mirrors the relationship between the client's ego awareness and unconscious.

The answers lie within. The challenge is listening to their wisdom and then creating change.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
— Marcel Proust

Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable - perhaps everything.
— CG Jung

The only journey is the journey within.
— Rilke