WHAT IS PSYCHOANALYSIS?

Psychoanalysis is an intensive form of therapy in which a patient attends sessions 3 to 5 times per week, often for several years, frequently lying down on the couch. Through this process, deeper unconscious conflicts are worked out with the goal of shifting one's relationship to oneself and to the outside world.

People often enter psychoanalytic treatment because of seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their relationships with significant others and in their careers.

I use the word "patient" instead of "client". This is because "client" implies a chiefly commercial relationship which distorts the nature of our connection. The origin of the word "patient" is "one who suffers". To seek psychoanalytic treatment is to begin to take control of one's suffering by engaging the expertise of someone trained to help you understand the origins of that suffering. This is a very different kind of relationship than the mercantile, chiefly-commercial meanings inferred by the word "client". (Page 10 of this paper by Jonathan Shedler provides helpful perspective on this topic.) I am paid for our work by you, and this is a reality that can often carry significant meanings. But our relationship is not solely or even chiefly defined by that reality.

While psychoanalysis itself requires intensive frequency of sessions, I apply a psychoanalytic approach to my work with all of my patients who see me anywhere from 1 to 5 times per week.

Key elements of psychoanalytic treatment are:

  • Close attention to the relationship between the therapist and patient;

  • Depth of listening employed by the psychoanalyst (see my "Treatment" tab for a perspective on the value of listening);

  • Commitment to substantive change through understanding of unconsciously rooted patterns and fears that repeatedly inhibit growth and freedom. This produces far more durable results than the manualized, "tools"-focused treatments one often finds in other forms of therapy.

Evidence-based verification that psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy are among the most durable mental health treatments with the most lasting results increases every year. These links take you to current research on this topic:

These videos provide a range of helpful perspectives on the value and experience of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapy treatment:

The International Psychoanalytical Association, of which I am a member, provides a clear synopsis of the nature and value of psychoanalytic treatment. The American Psychoanalytic Association also provides useful information on psychoanalytic treatment.

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