Is psychoanalytic psychotherapy for me?
Yes, if you would like to deal with long standing, severe or repetitive issues which have troubled you for a long time. It is also recommended if other treatments have not worked effectively for you, or if you’d simply like to gain a better understanding of yourself. You should consider psychoanalytic psychotherapy if you are prone to thoughts such as:
- “I feel unhappy”
- “I don’t know what to do..”
- “I feel something is wrong with…”
- “I can’t control it”
- “I don’t know how to move on”
- “I don’t understand…”
- “I am doing everything wrong”
- “I have panic attacks/I feel depressed/I don’t see a point”
- “I can’t connect with people”
How does it work?
Sometimes the signs of anxiety are demonstrated by physical symptoms. On other occasions, it is our dreams that are constantly working on producing images (or perhaps not producing anything), thus signalling the state of our ‘internal workings’. In some cases, it is the actions we take that seem alien to us and confuse us, sending us a message about conflict within ourselves. At other times, it is our emotions that seem to be volatile, out of place, or repressed, puzzling us further. The job of the psychoanalytic therapist is to contribute their knowledge and experience of the human mind in order to assist the client to clarify these internal messages.
What happens during your session?
There is no particular structure to the session. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy provides the client with the freedom to express concerns in any form. Therapists provide a comfortable and reassuring setting as well as confidentiality with regards to what is expressed by their client. The therapist does not judge the client on what is being said, but instead expresses curiosity about their unique inner experiences. Building trust takes different amounts of time for each client; hence there is no expectation of how much you will share during the first session. Arriving for the session is in itself a positive step towards a better future.
What happens during the following sessions?
After the first session, you are welcome to take your time to consider whether you would like to continue with the therapy, and if so, how frequently you would like to attend the sessions. If you do decide to continue, sessions are scheduled at a certain time and day each week. You will then have an opportunity to explore your most pressing issues with the guidance of the psychotherapist, who will attentively listen to you without intruding on your thoughts. The psychoanalyst will gently direct your attention to some areas that may help clarify your hidden conflicts or fantasies. The therapist may also highlight certain dynamics in your relationship with others, as well as the possible origins of any relationship problems. Becoming aware of your own behaviour or relationship patterns allows you to take control, and opens up alternative ways of being whilst enhancing confidence.
How does psychoanalysis bring change?
The psychotherapist does not provide advice on what clients should do because each individual is unique, and everyone is at a different stage in their life. The therapist will not always know exactly what is going on with the client initially, but will try to reveal patterns and issues during the process of therapy. Through the therapeutic process, the client begins to understand him or herself better and gradually acquires a sense of where they want to be in regard to their life.
How long it will take?
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a very individualistic approach, and hence the therapist can’t reliably predict how long it may take to resolve an individual’s unique difficulties. Generally, long-standing problems are developed and reinforced over many years, and to understand and correct these problems will most likely require a corresponding amount of time. However, clients have a freedom of choice to stop therapy at any time simply by giving notice to their therapist.
Will psychoanalytic psychotherapy work for me?
The answer to this is very different for each person. As you discover more about yourself, acquire flexibility in thinking and develop new perspectives of the world, you will start to see progress. Psychoanalysis can be a life-changing experience with difficult moments leading to personal growth. Simply being listened to can be a satisfying and therapeutic experience in itself. You are welcome to share any concerns you may have about the process with your therapist.