Schools of Psychotherapy

There are various schools of Psychotherapy dating back to the late 19th Century. This article discusses some of the forms of Psychotherapy influential to Psychotherapists in Sydney.

Psychoanalysis & PsychoANALYTIC Psychotherapy

Psychoanalysis is a fairly pure form of psychotherapy drawn from the thinking and practice of Sigmund Freud back in the 1890s. Psychoanalysis, broadly speaking, works from the belief that we tend to go about life unaware of the influence of many unconscious emotions and thoughts.

Psychoanalysts aim to reduce dissatisfying personality traits, behaviours and relationship patterns, by making us aware of our unconscious patterns of thought and emotion, and how these affect us in the conscious world.


Psychodynamic therapy draws from psychoanalysis and has a similar focus on the unconscious mind and how our unconscious processes affect our current behaviour. Self-awareness is a major goal of psychodynamic counselling, as is developing an understanding and awareness of how our past experience influences our present. Perhaps not surprisingly, psychodynamic therapy is sometimes referred to as insight-oriented therapy.

Psychotherapeutic approaches also focus on how to manage emotion especially in the context of our significant relationships both past and present. Psychotherapeutic approaches have in common their focus on enabling the client to better acknowledge, express or come to terms with emotion as it arises, be it in relation to family members, our partners or significant others, in order to help us live a life less burdened by anger, fear, shame or guilt thereby enabling more fulfilling relationships.


Self psychology is a school of psychotherapy first established by Heinz Kohut in the 1940s. Self psychology frames emotional and psychological issues by looking at our base developmental needs (such as love, security and connection) and how a lack or disturbance of these may affect our emotional capacity as adults.

Psychotherapists who use self psychology models tend to emphasise the value of accurate empathy and the development of empathetic qualities in their patients, acknowledging its importance to future psychological health and well-being. Empathy is also used as a mode of therapeutic intervention allowing the client to get a better appreciation of their difficulties as ordinary derailments from an ideal developmental trajectory.

Gestalt Therapy

In Gestalt Therapy the client is viewed as an individual, but one who is related to the world through relationships. Gestalt therapy works with your current experience rather than focussing on your history. The Gestalt Therapist pays close attention to the way you function now.

A Gestalt therapist can also help you to come to a deeper understanding about the way you relate to others by helping you assess the personal meaning of your relationships. This assessment may include more than just conversation; it may include the use of experiential exercises which enable the client to express themselves and their personal dilemma in a new way.

A Gestalt Therapist can help you find new ways of being through various excercises including different modes of role play. In Gestalt forms of counselling, awareness of the self, responsibility for one’s self is emphasized as a way in which to make change in one’s life.

Object Relations Therapy

Object Relations Theory is a form of psychotherapy which considers the development of the self as a process which happens in relation to our environment and other people.

At the root of this form of psychotherapy is the idea that our experience of relating to others as adults is formed primarily by the relational experience we had as children, with our parents. These early experiences are seen as deeply defining the way we see the world, the way we are in relationships, and our expectations and fears of how people might treat us.

If you are considering treatment from a Psychoterapist in Sydney please feel free to contact us for more information.

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