Psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be regarded as an in-depth, long-term method for exploration of the self, which provides support to patients as well as better understanding of a wide variety of problems and difficulties that affect one’s psychological state. It is based on the psychoanalytical ideas brought forth by influential thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, and further enriched by their contemporary followers. According to these ideas all experiences, memories, fantasies and dreams reveal [our] unconscious fears, desires and conflicts. It is believed that these processes are not accessible to the conscious mind and can be traced back to the earliest interactions with important figures in one’s life.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy provides a safe space to face previously unknown aspects of the personality, connecting them to past and present experiences, and ultimately obtaining a more complete understanding of oneself. This process causes many of the patient’s past emotional experiences to resurface, but this time in the presence of a psychotherapist who can listen to them and interpret them in a novel way. Articulating these feelings relieves the patient of his psychological suffering and opens new possibilities for personal development.
The process of psychoanalytic psychotherapy involves regular sessions with a psychotherapist (between one and four times a week), which are usually face to face and last 50 minutes. The patient is free to pick the topics to be discussed, and to share the thoughts and feelings that are currently on their mind. The psychotherapist in turn listens, reflects and makes links between different experiences of the narrative of the patient. Both parties work together in examining the roles assigned to them by the patient’s psyche and exploring the resulting dynamic. Committing to this process is a serious task. Not only does it require much personal efforts and devotion, it also potentially exposes the patient to painful and disturbing experiences. Nevertheless, psychoanalytical psychotherapy is considered one of the most effective means of achieving self-awareness and confidence in one’s own life decisions.
This approach can be helpful to people who:
- feel that they encounter the same (or similar) difficulties over and over again
- suffer from physical symptoms for which there is no medical explanation
- do not feel like “themselves” and are questioning their identity
- are worried about their personal or professional relationships
- have a hard time dealing with separation or loss
- have fears that restrict their interests and activities
- wish to know more about themselves and their internal world
- experience depression, anxiety or other forms of mental pain that diminish the quality of their life