Psychodynamic therapy, also known as insight-oriented therapy, focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a personís present behaviour. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a clientís self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behaviour. In its brief form, a psychodynamic approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in the need and desire to abuse substances.

Several different approaches to brief psychodynamic psychotherapy have evolved from psychoanalytic theory and have been clinically applied to a wide range of psychological disorders. There is a body of research that generally supports the efficacy of these approaches.

Psychodynamic therapy is the oldest of the modern therapies. The healing and change process envisioned in long-term psychodynamic therapy typically requires at least 2 years of sessions. This is because the goal of therapy is often to change an aspect of oneís identity or personality or to integrate key developmental learning missed while the client was stuck at an earlier stage of emotional development.

Practitioners of brief psychodynamic therapy believe that some changes can happen through a more rapid process or that an initial short intervention will start an ongoing process of change that does not need the constant involvement of the therapist.