Psychoanalytic Therapy Basics

Psychoanalytical therapy is based on the idea that the root of our motivations and inner conflicts lies in the subconscious mind. It is designed to bring things hidden in the subconscious into the light of consciousness. Then, they can be resolved and no longer influence our behavior.

The tools of psychoanalysis are primarily free association and dream interpretation. Dreams are believed to be the result of input from our daily experiences and are interpreted with that in mind. In free association, the client hears a word or looks at a picture and says the first thing that comes to mind.

Psychoanalytical therapy can be, and is, done online (not all psychoanalytic therapists are on board with this). It is not necessarily a long process although it can be. The length of therapy depends on how forthcoming a client is with the therapist. When a client withholds information, it takes longer to discover the hidden issues. Also, some people might have several conflicts to uncover.

Subconscious issues might cause a person to be phobic (fearful) about public places or germs, act angry though they would rather not, or feel depressed for seemingly no reason. We can react to inner conflicts as a puppet does to a pulled string but once the conflict is known the therapist assists the client in resolving or coming to terms with it.

Psychoanalysis emphasizes 4 factors:

  1. the past shapes our present
  2. every person is unique
  3. there are things outside of human awareness that can influence our behavior and thoughts
  4. human development is a life long process

Psychoanalytic practice, over several decades, has noted specific psychological experiences that all humans share. These experiences revolve around themes such as longing, ideals, ambition, isolation, and insecurity. They are the same themes that the best authors and movie makers capitalize on since everyone can relate to them.

This type of therapy will not appeal to everyone. People who tend to be introspective and interested in understanding the source of their problems will likely take to psychoanalysis. Those who are looking for practical solutions to problems or want to increase their coping skills are better off finding goal oriented, solution focused therapists.

Source: American Psychoanalytic Association

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