Even if you consider yourself emotionally attuned, you may be unaware of many unconscious factors that drive your emotions and behaviors. These dynamics often manifest in feelings of unhappiness, low self-esteem or anxiety. They can also affect your career and personal relationships.
What is Psychoanalysis?
Because they are unconscious, however, it can be hard to address these powerful, underlying feelings by reading a self-help book, talking to friends and family or engaging in traditional talk therapy.
Psychoanalytic treatment uncovers the many ways in which these unconscious factors affect current patterns of behavior and relationships, tracing them back to their historical origins. It explores how they have evolved over time, helping you cope with the realities of adult life.
An intimate partnership between you and your therapist, psychoanalysis facilitates an awareness of your deeply rooted emotional injuries—not just on an intellectual basis, but on an emotional level as well.
How Does Psychoanalysis Work?
A trained psychotherapist will help you reexperience the emotional trauma. The difference between the original experience and the recreated experience is that the latter takes place in a safe, controlled environment.
Typically, you’ll meet with your therapist four or five times a week. For this type of treatment, you’ll lie on a couch and be prompted to say any and everything that pops into your mind. This is one situation where no filter is required; in fact, having no filter accelerates (facilitates?) the process. These conditions create the analytic setting, allowing the aspects of the mind that are inaccessible through traditional methods of observation to emerge.
Your therapist is trained to discern nuanced hints about the unconscious emotional “hot spots,” recognizing patterns and focusing on subjects that appear difficult for you to recall or discuss. The process is interactive; your therapist will help you elucidate these deep-rooted thoughts and feelings, while you refine, correct, reject and elaborate on them. Together, you’ll join efforts to modify nonproductive life patterns, remove incapacitating symptoms and expand the freedom to thrive in your work and relationships.
Who Can Benefit From Psychoanalysis?
Because analysis is a highly individualized treatment, the decision to begin this type of therapy should be made after consulting with an experienced psychoanalyst.
Psychoanalysis might be the right treatment option for you if:
- You are basically (or potentially) a sturdy individual; that is, you are relatively stable and secure—no matter how incapacitated you might feel in your present state;
- You have the capacity to achieve satisfaction—in your marriage, friendships, career or hobbies—but feel significantly impaired by longstanding symptoms such as depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction or physical ailments that have no demonstrable cause;
- You are plagued by private rituals, compulsions or repetitive thoughts;
- You close yourself off, living in isolation and loneliness—or are unable to trust others;
- You exhibit self-destructive behaviors; or
- You’ve tried other approaches to therapy, but they provided only temporary or partial resolution to your symptoms and their underlying cause.
The issues you bring to psychoanalysis will vary from person to person, and need to be properly understood within the context of your unique strengths and life circumstances. By conducting a thorough evaluation, an experienced, trained psychoanalyst can help you determine if analysis makes sense as a viable treatment option for you.
(Adapted from materials provided by the Psychoanalytic Association of New York (PANY), formerly the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education at NYU Medical Center.)
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If you’re interested in learning more about psychoanalysis, or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our qualified psychoanalysts, please contact us by submitting this form, or by phone at 847-729-3034. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.