Psychoanalytic therapy is a type of treatment based upon the theories of Sigmund Freud, who is considered one of the forefathers of psychology and the founder of psychoanalysis. This type of therapy explores how the unconscious mind influences thoughts and behaviours, with the aim of offering insight and resolution to the person seeking therapy.
Psychoanalysis frequently involves looking at early childhood experiences in order to discover how these events might have shaped the individual and how they contribute to current actions.
This form of therapy is considered a long-term choice and can continue for weeks, months or even years depending on the depth of the concern being explored. Psychoanalytic therapy aims to make deep-seated changes in personality and emotional development.
A psychoanalyst listens to the clients concerns and looks out for patterns or certain events that may hold significance. In this type of therapy it is believed that unconscious feelings and childhood events play a key role in mental distress. Sessions can vary, but much of the time will be spent talking freely to your therapist in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
As well as listening to the client discussing his/her experiences, the therapist may use other techniques to help identify potential causes for the clients concerns. Such techniques may include:
Free association - talking about whatever comes into your mind without censoring or editing the flow of memories/ideas. Your therapist will encourage you to speak freely to help you return to an earlier emotional state so they can better understand any recurrent patterns of conflict you may be experiencing.
Therapeutic transference - this relates to the way you may be transferring thoughts or feelings connected to influential figures in your life (for example your parents or siblings) onto your therapist.
Interpretation - A key element is interpreting and 'reading between the lines'. While your therapist is likely to stay relatively quiet and allow you to talk freely, they will occasionally interject with thoughts or interpretations of the topics you discuss. This can also include dream interpretation.
Psychoanalytic therapy can be used by those with a specific emotional concern as well as those who simply want to explore themselves. As psychoanalytic therapy is considered one of the more long-term therapy types, it is less useful for those seeking quick, solution-focused therapies. Psychoanalytic therapy is a gradual process that takes time, however the results can be life changing.
The therapist offers an empathetic and nonjudgmental environment where the client can feel safe in revealing feelings or actions that have led to stress and difficulties in his or her life.
Due to the nature of the therapy, psychoanalytic work is better suited to more general concerns such as:
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