What is Psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysis is really a way of thinking...a lens or perspective that we can look through, but when people ask what psychoanalysis is, they usually want to know about the treatment process and the relationship to the therapist.
Psychoanalysis is a treatment modality based on the understanding that we are often unaware of many of the factors that determine our emotions and behaviors. These unconscious factors may create feelings of unhappiness or distress. Sometimes this shows up in the form of recognizable symptoms and at other times as troubling personality traits, difficulties in work or in love relationships, or disturbances in mood and self-esteem. Often, we may find ourselves repeating the same patterns throughout life, feeling stuck and at a loss of how to change them. Because of these unconscious forces, the advice of friends and family, reading self-help books, or even the most determined efforts of will, often fail to provide relief.
In psychoanalysis, we are able to begin to recognize how these unconscious factors affect our current relationships and patterns of behavior, and we can trace them back to their historical origins. As we engage in this process we begin to see how they have changed and developed over time, and eventually learn to embody more efficient ways of dealing with the realities of adult life.
Analysis is an intimate partnership, where you have the opportunity to become aware of the underlying sources of difficulties- not simply intellectually -but emotionally, by re-experiencing them within the context of our relationship. Typically, the patient comes three to five times per week, lies on a couch, and attempts to say everything that comes to mind. These conditions create a setting that allows for the emergence of aspects of the mind not usually accessible via other methods. As you freely speak, hints of the unconscious sources of current difficulties gradually begin to appear — in certain repetitive patterns of behavior, in the topics that feel hard to talk about, and in the ways that you relate to me as the analyst.
My job, as the analyst, is to help facilitate this process by helping to bring further awareness to the unconscious factors at play. Your job, as the patient, is to refine, correct, reject, and add further thoughts and feelings. During the years that an analysis takes place, you'll grapple with new insights, going over them again and again while experiencing them in daily life, in fantasies, and in dreams. This is an expected part of the process. We will join in efforts not only to modify discouraging or difficult life patterns and remove uncomfortable symptoms, but also to expand the freedom to work, to love, and to play.
Eventually, you will experience that your behavior, relationships, and sense of self will have transformed in deep and abiding ways.
Is Psychoanalysis right for me?
Analysis is a highly individualized treatment, so if you are interested in seeing if this would be the right fit for you, please contact me for a consultation.
That being said, you may be a good fit for psychoanalysis if:
-You are someone who, no matter how incapacitated at the time, is basically, or potentially, a sturdy individual. In other words, you are able to "hold up" under the weight of stressors and difficult circumstances, and continue to persevere in the midst of them.
-You may have already achieved important satisfactions — with friends, in marriage or partnership, in work, or through special interests and hobbies — but nonetheless still feel impaired by long-standing symptoms like: depression or anxiety, self-esteem, sexual incapacities, or physical symptoms without any demonstrable underlying physical cause. ( Examples: One person may engage in private rituals or compulsions or may experience repetitive thoughts of which no one else is aware. Another may feel constricted in life, isolated, and alone, perhaps feeling incapable of becoming close to anyone. A survivor of abuse of any kind might suffer from an inability to trust others, while a survivor of neglect may have difficulty understanding and communicating their own needs.)
-You are experiencing repeated disappointments in work or in love brought about by self- destructive (sabotaging or limiting) patterns of behavior.
-You feel that the way you are- your character- substantially limits your choices and your enjoyment in life.
-You are seeking to resolve psychological problems that were only temporarily or partially resolved by other approaches, or are seeking increased awareness, personal growth and expansion that is more extensive than other therapies or modalities you have tried.
Whatever the issue may be, it can only be properly understood within the context of your individual strengths and life situation. Each individual and their circumstances is unique which is why it is important to first engage in a thorough evaluation to determine if you could benefit from psychoanalysis.