What Individuals & Couples Can Expect From Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

The role of the psychotherapist is to help guide you in an exploration of your personality and your current problems.  Direct advice or reassurance is not part of the process, as no one can tell you how to run your life.  However, the psychotherapist will help you find out what is getting in the way of running your own life, whether it be fears, anxieties, guilt, anger, or other emotional conflicts.  Psychotherapy is a process of gradually finding the answers to your own questions so you can feel you have a sense of choice and mastery of your life.

Psychotherapy Process

Psychotherapy is a process that requires commitment, patience, and desire to change.  It is an important investment in your current and future psychological satisfaction.  Sessions are conducted for forty-five minutes, at a frequency of one, two, three, or four times a week.  The basic approach is to say whatever is on your mind, regardless of what that may be as all thoughts and feelings are valid and important to explore.  In individual treatment, your psychotherapist may recommend using the analytic couch, which allows for better focus on your inner feelings and thoughts.  In couple’s treatment, each party is expected to look at their own contribution to the relational dynamic.

Relief and Cure

There are many benefits to psychoanalytic psychotherapy.  One is achieving a healthier perspective on your life and therefore being able to cope with or manage your interpersonal relationships in a healthier fashion. Also, the way you see yourself and the way you treat yourself can be improved. You may find a greater understanding of personal goals, values, and beliefs and be able to find greater personal maturity and inner happiness.  Psychoanalytic psychotherapy can also bring relief and resolution of painful traumatic experiences in either childhood or adulthood, decrease anxiety and depressive feelings, alleviate sexual problems, create a more stable, stronger sense of self, and increase your ability to simply relax and enjoy life.

Issues and Solutions

Competent therapists do not offer solutions, suggestions, or take sides. They help patients work out their own solutions according to what best suits their own values and perspectives.  Some of the issues commonly treated in psychoanalytic psychotherapy are anxiety, relationship problems, loneliness, mood-swings, sexual difficulties, eating disorders, alcohol or drug abuse, emotional conflicts, depression, divorce or separation, fears and panic attacks, career trouble, anger issues, grief, and loss.

Awareness of Problem

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a comprehensive, researched, and proven method for successfully healing mental distress.  Through treatment, individuals and couples become aware of and slowly master factors previously outside of their awareness which were interfering with healthy living and fulfilling relationships. In an ongoing partnership with the psychotherapist, patients gradually discover the underlying sources of their difficulties and find ways of changing what used to feel so overwhelming.  These discoveries usually come out within the relationship to the psychotherapist.  So, whatever reactions, feelings, or patterns that unfold in relating to the therapist are extremely valuable to examine, as they provide a mirror to the rest of one’s life. By your commitment to ongoing, regular meetings, and by saying whatever is on your mind, the psychotherapist will be able to gradually see certain unconscious factors that are at the heart of your problems which you may never have noticed.  Sharing dreams, memories, fantasies, and ongoing anxieties, in an open and honest way, provide an opportunity to learn about yourself in a dramatic manner that can lead to lasting change and improvement.  

Resolving Problems

In working to achieve understanding and change in psychotherapy, you must make firm and direct efforts to challenge old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.  This may cause discomfort and things may get worse before they get better.  Remembering and resolving unpleasant events can arouse intense feelings of fear, anger, depression, frustration, or anxiety.  Seeking to resolve problems between family members, marital partners, friends, or coworkers may similarly lead to discomfort as well as changes in these relationships that were not originally intended.

There are several steps in the psychotherapy process.  First, you need to spend time, on a regular and consistent basis, exploring the problems that brought you into treatment.  Frequency and duration are important.  Most people wonder, “how long does it take?”  Research shows that the overall result will be better if you attend frequent sessions over a lengthy period of time.  Besides exploring the underlying issues of your current situation, other avenues of focus are necessary. This will include examining your childhood upbringing for themes and patterns from your family of origin. Next, you will be asked to notice the manner in which you relate to the therapist.  Psychotherapy is a unique therapeutic relationship, different than most other relationships.  You will be asked to say what is honestly on your mind without censoring it.  This includes the ongoing examination of how you feel towards the psychotherapist, as the way you relate to the therapist will provide valuable insights into how you relate to others and how you view yourself and the world at large.  No matter how positive, negative, silly, embarrassing, or confusing these feelings towards the psychotherapist may be, it is vital to share them and explore them.

Relationships: Individual and Couples

Individual therapy helps you understand the relationship you have with yourself and the ways you either encourage yourself or sabotage yourself in life.  In helping couples with their relationship issues, the psychotherapist will ask each party to look closely at themselves to better understand their own psychological makeup and their own contributions to the couple’s dynamic.  Every relationship consists of two individuals combining their own emotional patterns to create a unique relational matrix.  So, in couple’s therapy, there must be an ongoing exploration of each person’s psychology as well as the special manner in which the two parties operate as a couple.  In a sense, couple’s therapy is a combination of both parties undergoing individual therapy together as well as examining how the relationship produces its own unique characteristics.  Therefore, in order to make changes, each party has to be willing to look at how they impact the relationship with their own psychological makeup.

Change and Conflict

It is courageous that you have decided to take an honest look at yourself.  The anxiety, conflict, and unhappiness that brought you into treatment can be dealt with.  Change is possible.  During the course of psychotherapy, you can discover pieces of your past that were out of reach before.  You can learn about yourself and your current life and you can build new bridges into the future based on hope, trust, and a more stable sense of self-identity.  Your relationship to yourself and with others can become less restricted.  As a result, your life will finally include choice, change, and a core sense of meaning.