What is psychoanalytic therapy?
Psychoanalytic therapy is based on the notion that our experiences and patterns of interacting with the world have unconscious roots within us that we are not consciously aware of. These patterns result in a kind of magnetism to repetition of the familiar that we cannot resolve simply with logic. By tracing to the source of your particular repetitions, through an exploration of the past, the present and also what happens in the relationship evolving between us, change can happen organically and instinctively from the inside, as opposed being imposed on you by behavioural instruction.
In psychoanalytic therapy, symptoms are viewed as signals or communication from within the self that need to be understood. Rather than being a weakness or a problem, symptoms serve an important function in highlighting something within us that needs to be addressed.
Who is it for?
Psychoanalytic therapy is most suitable for people who seek, not just to relieve their symptoms, but to know themselves intimately. It has a strong evidence base for a variety of mental health issues (you can read about this in more academic language here, if you’re interested), but is also a refuge for people who are struggling with broad questions of identity, creativity, direction and meaning. If you have more long standing issues that other kinds of help have not been able to resolve, complex experiences of trauma, or particular patterns in relationships that you can’t shake, it might be a particularly good fit. Helping professionals also seek analytic therapy to develop a self awareness which can empower and protect them in their own work.
Psychoanalytic therapy is typically an intensive, longer term self exploration, and is well suited to patients who feel ready and able to make room in their lives for this kind of commitment.
How does it work?
Therapy begins with a kind of audit, or stocktake, of your history and the important aspects of your life. We won’t just talk about the problem, but about you as a person, and what has lead you to be where you are.
In the following sessions, I will ask you to speaking freely about whatever is on your mind. After a lifetime in our very structured world, this can feel strange or take a little getting used to. We do this with the aim of uncovering what is truly urgent, intrinsic and as yet unheard within you.
I will listen to you very carefully, paying special attention to any patterns that seem to surface across time, and also to what starts to evolve in the relationship between us. I will share what I notice with you and see what you think.
Because of the vulnerable and intimate nature of this work, I generally do not see patients on less than a weekly basis, and will suggest a break in treatment if this is not possible. It is also not uncommon to meet several times a week if this is suitable and feasible for you.