How Psychoanalytic Treatment Works

Psychoanalytic treatment is based on the idea that people are frequently motivated by unrecognized wishes and desires that originate in one’s unconscious.

These can be identified through the relationship between patient and analyst. By listening to patients’ stories, fantasies, and dreams, as well as discerning how patients interact with others, psychoanalysts offer a unique perspective that friends and relatives might be unable to see. The analyst also listens for the ways in which these patterns occur between patient and analyst. What is out of the patient’s awareness is called, “transference” and out of the analyst’s awareness is called “countertransference”.

Talking with a trained psychoanalyst helps identify underlying problematic patterns and behaviors. By analyzing the transference and countertransference, analyst and patient can, discover paths toward the emotional freedom necessary to make substantive, lasting changes, and heal from past traumas.

Typically, psychoanalysis involves the patient coming several times a week and communicating as openly and freely as possible. While more frequent sessions deepen and intensify the treatment, frequency of sessions is worked out between the patient and analyst.

The couch, which has become so intertwined with the public image of psychoanalysis, is no longer required. While many analysts and patients find that the couch is beneficial and helps patients relax and be more open, others feel a face-to-face arrangement works better for them.

About Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Sometimes also called psychodynamic psychotherapy, this treatment method is based on the theory and technique of psychoanalysis. The primary difference is that the patient and analyst meet less frequently, sometimes only once a week. As with psychoanalysis, the frequency of sessions can be customized to the needs of the patient. Another difference is that the patient usually sits upright and opposite the therapist, rather than reclining on a couch with the therapist out of view.

Other than these differences, psychoanalytic psychotherapy is very much like analysis in its use of free association, the importance placed on the unconscious, and the centrality of the patient-therapist relationship.

About Applied Psychoanalysis
Applied psychoanalysis describes the practice of using psychoanalytic theories and methods to explain social, cultural and political phenomena and has been going on since psychoanalysis first began.

Applied psychoanalysis takes the search for meaning and motivations outside of the therapist's office, using psychoanalytic principles to make sense of the world.

Psychoanalysts have been known to work as consultants in community settings, such as schools, businesses and corporations.

About Neuropsychoanalysis
The connection between neuroscience and psychoanalysis goes back to Sigmund Freud, who was a neuroscientist and neurologist by training. It was Freud’s interest in the workings of the brain and the mind that led to the development of psychoanalytic theory.