What is "Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy"?

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is a contemporary form of Sigmund Freud's "psychoanalysis," informed by recent findings in attachment research, the neurobiology of emotions, and psychotherapy outcome.

It can be a short-term (12-20 sessions) or long-term (+1 year) treatment, depending on your needs. This treatment can be offered once a week, although twice or more a week is also possible (and in some cases, more effective).

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy has been found effective in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and difficulties with intense emotions. It is also helpful in understanding your relationship conflicts, becoming more aware of your feelings and goals, and taking action that feels congruent with your values.

How does Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy work?

In plain English, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy works through a combination of understanding and relationship.

Understanding

We start by setting up a division of labor

  • Your "job" is to speak freely, and say whatever comes to mind about your problem, without censoring yourself;
  • My job is to talk with you about it, and help you put your feelings and thoughts into words.

When we define these roles, we create a situation in which you can grow to

  • clarify the nature of your problem,
  • verbalize your goals, wants, and needs,
  • take a new perspective on how to address the problem, 
  • prepare to take action with new behavior. 

We also create a situation in which you not only talk to me about your problem, but also show me your problem. This happens through what we call the therapeutic relationship.

relationship

The therapeutic relationship is the interaction you and I have when we are in the room together. Its clinical power lies in creating an interpersonal laboratory where we can observe firsthand and talk about what happens when you:

  • Try to express your thoughts and feelings, and have difficulty being heard or understood;
  • Think you said one thing, but the other person hears another;
  • Become angry or upset. Etc...

The therapeutic relationship also allows you to experiment with trying out new behaviors and new perspectives in a safe space:

  • You say the things you've only been thinking about out loud, perhaps for the first time.
  • You do something that you are usually too afraid or anxious of doing, and it turns out not to be so bad!
  • By trying out new behavior and talking about it with me, you can make those words and deeds less scary, less daunting, and a greater part of your life.

What changes can I expect from this treatment?

This form of treatment can help you

  • have a better understanding of your emotions, and be better able to manage them;
  • feel more confident and appropriately assertive in expressing your thoughts, wishes, and needs;
  • make more meaningful and intimate relationships;
  • develop a more coherent sense of your values, goals, and identity;
  • develop more compassion for yourself and accept your past.