What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is an exploratory relationship which seeks deeper understanding of a persons experience, with the aim of achieving lasting and beneficial change. It involves mutual discovery that avoids assumptions and adheres to strict boundaries, including confidentiality and not meeting outside sessions.
The process of unraveling and making sense of experience can bring enormous relief, particularly with painful feelings that you may have buried in an attempt to protect yourself. It's these repressed experiences that often appear in disguised form as symptoms.
What Conditions can it Help?
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is a mainstream treatment sometimes available at NHS clinics, usually for a limited number of sessions. It can help people with a wide range of presenting problems, from mild symptoms of stress to more severe forms of emotional distress.
Sometimes it is seen less as a medical intervention and more of a developmental process, often enabling individuals to live more creatively. However its roots lay in biology, and recent studies in neuroscience have demonstrated it's efficacy.
What Benefits can be Expected?
Often psychotherapy will help people in ways that surprise them. It can bring into focus aspects of life that hitherto had not been expressed, or remained unconscious. For example, carefull attention and being held in mind by your therapist can help with identity, confidence and making choices in your life. Sometimes it can pinpoint a void, that which is missing in life.
Sometimes people experience cure and the relief of symptoms but due to the complexity of human beings none of these things are guaranteed and I remain wary of the therapist who over-estimates his or her powers of healing.
Often it is the client that finds the answers, but the therapist is sometimes skilled at tuning into an individuals suffering and providing the conditions for change and healing to take place.
I find that it usually takes between one and five consultations to know if you wish to enter into psychotherapy, this is normally known as an assessment phase. I see people once or twice weekly depending on the depth of therapy required.
Sessions are usually at the same time each week and last for 50 minutes. Sometimes people choose to lay on the couch, while others choose to remain seated face to face.