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Psychodynamic Therapy and Psychodrama for Addiction Recovery

picture of a head depicting psychodynamic therapy

Our past experiences exert a powerful, often unconscious, influence on our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. In fact, psychoanalysts like Freud believed that the unconscious mind is the primary source of human behavior.

Because addiction is strongly influenced by our unconscious beliefs, approaches that seek to reveal the unconscious mind, like psychodynamic therapy and psychodrama, can be powerful tools in addiction recovery programs.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is similar to psychoanalysis in that they are both in-depth “talk” therapies that explore how the unconscious mind affects behavior. While both therapies recognize the impact of childhood experiences on self-esteem, social interactions, and addiction, psychodynamic therapy also focuses on the individual’s current relationship with the external world.

When used in addiction recovery treatment, psychodynamic therapy helps clients better understand how unconscious thoughts and emotions contribute to their addictive behavior. In addition to addiction recovery, psychodynamic therapy is effective for treating conditions that frequently co-occur with addiction, such as anxiety, depression, and panic disorder.

In a typical psychodynamic therapy session, clients speak freely about whatever pops into their minds, which may include fears, negative emotions, dreams, and fantasies. During the session, the role of the therapist is to actively listen. Over time, as certain thought patterns begin to emerge, the therapist helps the client to understand the connection between their thoughts, emotions, and addictive behavior.

As clients better understand what has driven unhealthy behavior, they are better able to commit to the changes necessary for healing. As a client’s self-awareness increases, they also strengthen their self-esteem, allowing them to better:

  • Resolve conflicts
  • Strengthen interpersonal relationships
  • Manage triggers to addictive behavior


Psychodrama is a therapeutic approach where participants use role playing, spontaneous acting, and other forms of creative expression to gain a deeper understanding of personal problems. It often takes place on a stage or similar setting, and sessions may include props and multiple cast members.

Frequently used in a group setting, the client may reenact past negative events, dreams, or an imagined future event. Some members of the group may take on different roles in the dramatic reenactment, while others may make up the audience.

The act of playing out a scenario often brings to light underlying beliefs and issues that may be linked to addictive behavior. As participants reflect on the reenactment, they often gain a deeper understanding of how certain situations are linked to unhealthy responses.

Sessions are usually facilitated by a licensed psychodrama director. Each session may last up to two hours.

In addition to deepening self-awareness, psychodrama may also help the client:

  • Better manage stress
  • Overcome grief
  • Strengthen coping, communication, and social skills
  • Manage triggers to addictive behavior

Both psychodynamic therapy and psychodrama are effective approaches for helping clients identify and understand how life experiences and events have influenced their addictive behavior. Once clients begin to address underlying issues, they can move forward with their recovery and reduce their risk of relapse.

Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.

Turning Point of Tampa Addiction Treatment Tampa Florida

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