Psychoanalytic psychotherapy takes as a basic premise that there is something to gain from talking regularly with someone whose perspective, training, skills, and experience allow for a kind of listening and understanding not typically available in everyday life. Not only is it thereby possible to work through specific problems and personal concerns (e.g. depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, relationship problems, self-esteem deficits, career issues, creative blocks, sexual difficulties, eating disorders, or identity questions) but also to gain insight into parts and functions of the mind which operate outside of awareness. These unconscious features of ourselves have tremendous influence over our thoughts, feelings and behavior, and—left unexamined—can contribute to suffering of all sorts.
While this kind of therapy is very much concerned with the present, it also concerns itself with the ways in which current situations, interactions, and perceptions are shaped and influenced by past experiences and early relationships. In the pursuit of a greater understanding of a person’s life and mind, everything—feelings, beliefs, memories, dreams, even seemingly irrelevant passing thoughts, and especially the relationship that develops between therapist and patient—is considered a worthy object of shared curiosity.
Once or twice a week therapy is common. Sometimes, however, a more intensive treatment --sometimes referred to as psychoanalysis or simply analysis-- is called for. In this case, sessions take place three, four, or five times a week. There is no single type of person or problem for which psychoanalysis is the preferred approach, but when difficulties are of a more long-standing nature, and therefore likely to be more deeply rooted and integrated into an individual’s personality and ways of being in the world, the intensity of analysis is often useful. Psychoanalysis can be right for someone who starts at once a week then feels a desire to deepen the work or who wants to feel more supported and freer to reveal their most troubling thoughts.
Regardless of frequency, talk therapy involves a unique setting, circumstance and partnership through which remarkable personal development is possible. Self-awareness can flourish; psychic pain and conflict can be reduced; coping, decision-making, and interpersonal skills can each grow flexible and strong. And crucially, through either version of psychoanalytic therapy, the capacity can be developed to achieve far greater satisfaction and pleasure from work, love, and play.