Psychoanalytic psychotherapy explained

How does psychoanalytic psychotherapy work?

An important part of the therapeutic process is the setting, which is both confidential and private. The psychotherapy session itself will involve a conversation where you will be encouraged to say whatever is going through your mind.

This will provide an opportunity to unburden yourself but the therapist will also be trying to pick up hidden patterns and meanings. A psychoanalytic psychotherapist will be closely tuned into and empathic, but also more neutral than other approaches, keeping personal feelings and reactions private.

Our pattern of relating to others influences almost everything we do and is almost always found to be behind our struggles. Because we carry this way of relating with us wherever we go it will inevitably shape the way we relate to our therapist. We can begin to identify those patterns of behaviour which we have kept on repeating, and to see the ways in which we have been managing emotional pain, and to start gradually approaching difficult feelings with less anxiety so that as we become aware of old patterns, as they appear in relation to our therapist, it becomes possible to change them. Over time we can develop the capacity to reach and communicate with a part of ourselves that has been hidden from view – the less conscious and unconscious parts of our minds. This enables us to gain a stronger sense of who we are and how we function.

Psychotherapy sessions take place each week on at least a once weekly basis. The regularity is an important part of the process. It is often helpful to attend more than one session a week. This helps the process and the relationship with the psychotherapist to become more intensive. This can provide more of an opportunity to address and explore the personality and underlying patterns of behaviour.

Psychoanalytic therapy is a huge investment, especially when it is more intensive, not just in terms of money, but also in time and energy. However it can help us to make deep and lasting changes in our working life, or in making new relationships, or deepening existing ones and feeling more free to live life to the full, and to be more creative in all sorts of ways.