Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

What is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy takes place in a professional and confidential relationship between two people: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and patient. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists work with people experiencing a range of difficulties in their lives.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy offers to treat both the distress that first brings a person to Psychotherapy, as well as the underlying sources of that distress, which are oftentimes unknown to the person.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy offers people time and space to gain a deeper understanding of their feelings, thoughts and behaviours, while they work towards finding alternative and more effective ways of dealing with difficulties they may have been experiencing for a long time.

Why do people attend Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

  • Maybe you are experiencing difficulties in a relationship or relationships in your life.
  • Perhaps an event has made life very stressful for you.
  • You might be struggling to cope with your feelings, thoughts or behaviours.
  • Perhaps you have become aware that you are repeating patterns in your life, which are impacting negatively on you and your relationships, yet you feel you are unable to change them.
  • It may be that you want to take time to explore yourself and how you interact with the world around you.

Issues which sometimes lead people to seek Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

  • low mood and depression
  • stress and anxiety
  • abuse and trauma
  • bereavement
  • relationship difficulties
  • coping with physical illness
  • physical symptoms that have a psychological origin
  • workplace issues
  • self-harm
  • gender and sexuality issues
  • emotional issues relating to immigration and emigration
  • eating disorders
  • difficulties with feelings and thoughts
  • feelings of emptiness and hopelessness

What happens in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

Each Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy session lasts fifty minutes. The Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and patient meet once, twice or three times per week at the same time each week for the duration of their work together. This is discussed and agreed at the beginning of treatment.

The consistency in meeting times and the frequency of sessions is important because Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy works with patterns of thinking, feeling, coping and relating which the patient has developed over the course of their life to date, which are oftentimes outside of language and conscious awareness.

How long does Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy take?

The length of treatment is discussed and arranged between the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and patient. For each person it is different because each client has different needs, and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy facilitates people working through the process of Psychotherapy in their own time, at a pace that is manageable for them.

What are some of the core elements of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

  • Working with the unconscious

    As we move through our lives we accumulate experiences which shape how we perceive ourselves and how we interact with people around us. Some of these experiences are painful. Over time we can begin to feel unhappy with our relationships and our lives. This may be a recent occurrence or perhaps we have felt this way for a long time. We may be aware that we have developed a pattern of relating to ourselves and to others, which we would like to change yet we feel stuck. No matter how many times we try or how hard we try or how committed we are, we feel unable to change the situation we find ourselves in. These patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving have an unconscious element to them. In other words, those things about ourselves which we do not know, which we cannot remember, which are inaccessible to our conscious minds continue to exert a powerful influence over how we feel, think and behave in the present.

  • The use of free association

    You will be invited to voice any thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations you observe, as they come to mind, however insignificant, irrelevant or embarrassing they might seem to be. Free association facilitates you, in and through your relationship with your Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, bringing to consciousness unconscious dynamics underlying your behaviours, thoughts and feelings. Free association also facilitates the emergence of your psychological defences so their dynamics can be explored, understood and managed in a way that is better for you. This technique encourages you to become more aware, over time, of how you are feeling and thinking in the present moment, and how you relate to yourself and others.

  • Working through

    Patterns of relating and coping, which you have developed over the course of your life to date, begin to emerge over time in your relationship with your Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist. This takes time, which varies with each client. The consistency, regularity and frequency of sessions facilitate this process, which is oftentimes outside of language and conscious awareness. Within the holding environment of the Psychotherapy relationship, these patterns can slowly and safely emerge at a pace that is manageable for each individual client, at which time they can be understood, worked through and changed.

Is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy like attending a Psychiatrist?

No. A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has done additional training in Psychiatry. Meetings with Psychiatrists are usually shorter and fewer, and may involve the prescribing of medication.

Is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy the same as Counselling?

No. Counsellors generally work with people on specific issues, and for a shorter and sometimes set period of time (6-20 sessions).

Do Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists prescribe medication?

No. Medication is prescribed by GPs and Psychiatrists.