The process required for long-term psychodynamic therapy often takes at least 2 years of sessions. The goal of the therapy is centered around changing a particular part of someone's identity or personality. Brief psychodynamic therapy may happen through a more quick process, or an initial short intervention will start an ongoing process of change that does not need the constant involvement of the therapist.
Most psychodynamic approaches are centered around the concept that some maladaptive functioning is in play, and that this maladaption is, at least in part, unconscious. The presumed maladaption develops early in life and eventually causes dissonance in day to day life. Psychodynamic therapies focus on revealing and resolving these unconscious conflicts that are driving their symptoms. The psychodynamic therapist first intervenes to treat the discomfort associated with the poorly formed function, then helps the client acknowledge the existence of the maladaption, while working with the client to develop strategies for change.
Major techniques used by psychodynamic therapists include free association, recognizing resistance and transference, working through painful memories and difficult issues, catharsis, and building a strong therapeutic alliance. The client is encouraged to talk about childhood relationships with parents and other significant people, the primary focus being to reveal the unconscious content of a client's psyche in an effort to alleviate psychic tension.