Dr. Christi Alloway is a Calgary based clinical psychologist who specializes in offering evidence-based experiential psychodynamic therapy to adults of all ages, including young adults, adults of middle age, and older adults. Dr. Alloway is skilled in treating a variety of problems related to anxiety, depression, managing painful feelings, relationship difficulties, and stage of life transitions. She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Interested in deepening her understanding and practice of psychodynamic therapy, she sought out specialized training. In 2018, she completed the highly technical, three-year Core Training program in Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) via the Western Canada Institute for ISTDP. She completed another 2+ years of Advanced Training in ISTDP with Jon Frederickson, MSW and the ISTDP Institute. A lifelong learner, Dr. Alloway continues to develop her skills by attending ISTDP-related courses.
Why do people seek therapy?
People benefit from psychodynamic therapy for a wide variety of problems, including:
- Depression, low mood, hopelessness, lack of meaning or purpose in life
- Anxiety that is chronic or intermittent
- Panic, dread
- Low self-esteem, lack of confidence, self-criticism, insecurity, guilty feelings
- Relationship difficulties
- e.g., problems with intimacy or commitment, conflict avoidance or too much conflict, choosing partners who are abusive, neglectful or uncommitted
- Parenting concerns / difficulties with parenting role
- e.g., pre-natal and post-natal depression and anxiety, fearing that you are repeating the unhealthy parenting patterns that you experienced growing up
- Social and work-related difficulties
- e.g., isolation, difficulties with power dynamics, procrastination
- Phase of life issues (young adult, mid-life and retirement years)
- Grief and loss that are unresolved
- Childhood traumas that are unresolved
- PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) and chronic PTSD
- Loneliness, emptiness, social isolation, problems with trust and intimacy
- Difficulties with assertiveness, saying no, setting limits
- Difficulties with honestly and openly expressing feelings and needs
- Being totally cut-off from feelings or avoiding feelings
- Poor coping skills
- Anger and resentment, angry outbursts, irritability
- Self-destructive behaviours
- e.g., compulsive over-eating, gambling, spending, drinking, drug-use, self-harm
- Self-defeating patterns
- e.g., perfectionism, self-sacrifice, taking better care of others than yourself
How can psychodynamic therapy help me?
Psychodynamic therapy is an evidence-based treatment that helps to resolve emotional suffering, reduce harmful symptoms, challenge destructive thinking patterns, and change dysfunctional behaviour patterns.
Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) has the premise that many psychiatric disorders can be understood based on attachment theory and the emotional effects of disrupted or broken attachments in childhood.
Attachment trauma can lead to a complex mix of feelings, which may become blocked and avoided by way of defenses. If later life events happen to stir up these feelings, then anxiety and emotional defenses can be reactivated, resulting in a host of psychiatric and physical symptoms, including anxiety, depression, substance use, emotional dysregulation and interpersonal problems.
Treatment with ISTDP promotes healing by helping patients recognize and regulate anxiety, let go of destructive defenses, and fully experience their core feelings. By loosening harmful ties to the past, ISTDP aims to build core psychological strengths so that people can live happier, more satisfying and emotionally richer lives, have more fulfilling relationships and face life’s challenges with greater flexibility and freedom.
What can I expect from therapy?
In a psychodynamic therapy session, there is a focus on your emotional, relational, cognitive and behavioural difficulties. Typically, the greatest focus is on exploring and describing a full range of feelings. The role of the therapist is to help you:
- Experience and put words to feelings that may be troubling, conflicting or difficult to acknowledge.
- Recognize and regulate somatic signs of anxiety.
- Discover and change recurring patterns in your relationships with both yourself and with others, that lead to suffering and symptoms.
- Explore links between your past experience and current suffering, with the aim of experiencing not just intellectual insight, but also emotional insight. It is this emotional insight, which occurs at a deep, core level, that leads to change.
- Examine your feelings and thoughts towards the therapist.