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Psychoanalysis Explained: 10 Key Points to Know About This Therapy

Updated: Mar 20

What is Psychoanalysis ?

Psychoanalysis is a form of therapy in which the patient is analyzed by a psychoanalyst. The analyst helps people work through their problems, difficulties and conflicts in order to reach peace and fulfilment. Its purpose is to help people reach specific goals, such as getting in touch with unconscious feelings or thoughts, helping the patient take control of their life or creating self-acceptance. According to Freud's theory of psychoanalysis, an individual's childhood plays a huge role in determining who they are as adults.

10 Ways Psychoanalysis Can Help -

1. Psychoanalysis works in a more personal way than some other kinds of psychotherapy: Instead of simply talking to the therapist or discussing feelings and problems in a group setting, the patient meets with their own personal analyst for regular sessions. This allows the analyst to get to know the patient very well, which helps when it comes time for treatment. The patient's sessions with their personal analyst usually occur once per week, sometimes more frequently depending on what goals are being sought and what issues are being worked on. Because of this frequency, psychoanalysis can be a costly form of therapy. It requires a lot of time and energy from both the patient and analyst.

2. Psychoanalysis is unique in the way it works to discover unconscious feelings and thoughts: While more traditional forms of psychotherapy focus on helping the patient improve their conscious, everyday life, psychoanalysis aims to understand what's going on deep down inside. The analyst uses a technique called free association to help the patient uncover unconscious feelings and thoughts. The patient does this by stating everything that comes to mind without censoring anything at all (whether it's related or not). This process helps the patient work through problems and emotions that could be contributing to distress or unhappiness.

3. Unlike some other forms of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis is not a substitute for medication: Some types of psychotherapy (like cognitive behavioural therapy) can be helpful in preventing relapse in patients who are experiencing anxiety or depression. Psychoanalysis is not usually recommended for this purpose. However, some forms of psychoanalysis (like Jungian analysis) can be used to supplement traditional psychotherapy sessions when the patient is trying to work through their issues.

4. Psychoanalysis isn't always individually used to treat mental health issues: While many mental health professionals believe that psychoanalysis can help a person get rid of emotional suffering, there are others who say that it's not necessarily an effective tool for treating emotional problems. While some people seek out psychoanalysis to manage their anxiety or depression, this is not the most common reason to take part in this therapy.

5. Analysts often use resistance to help patients overcome problems: Resistance can take many forms – avoiding certain topics, coming to session unprepared or just being less than honest during the sessions. But analysts understand that this resistance is often a sign that something is being avoided and that the unconscious mind could be trying to protect the patient from unpleasant feelings, such as anxiety. The analyst encourages their patient to explore what's behind their resistance so they can get in touch with these difficult emotions and work through them.

6. Psychoanalysis is not for everyone: Many mental health professionals believe psychoanalysis is not appropriate for those who are suffering from severe mental health issues or psychosis. In fact, some believe that it can actually do more harm than good in these situations. If a patient is experiencing severe psychological distress or has even been diagnosed with a mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, they should seek professional help immediately.

7. Psychoanalysis can be helpful in helping couples work through problems: According to some psychiatrists, it's not uncommon for couples to want help working through issues related to their relationship. So if your relationship is struggling and you're not sure what to do about it, consider seeing an analyst for some personal therapy sessions. While the cost may be a big concern for some people, splitting time between the two of you with individual therapy sessions can actually lead to more intimacy between you and your partner.

8. Psychoanalysis is not always done with a doctor: There are also many therapists who do not use the name "psychoanalysis" to describe their form of therapy. Instead, they call themselves psychotherapists or counsellors. These therapists are simply using common, straightforward language to describe their work. However, there are also some therapists who specialise in psychoanalysis but do not adhere to Freud's ideas or theories completely. In other words, it's possible for a therapist to use Freudian techniques like free association and interpretation but still be a practitioner of more revolutionary forms of psychotherapy that go against the mainstream theory.

9. Psychoanalysis is usually good for treating problems like anxiety or depression: According to some studies, psychoanalysis is one of the most effective forms of therapy for treating anxiety and depression. In fact, it's a common treatment option for people who experience anxiety disorders or mood disorders like depression. This type of therapy can help those with these conditions feel better and achieve their goals more easily.

10. It's possible to have more than one analyst: It's not uncommon for patients to meet with multiple analysts (called "interpreters" in Freudian terms) during their treatment sessions. Sometimes this occurs because the patient needs more intensive treatment or they have difficulty working through certain issues with just one person. Generally, multiple analysts are used like a group of counsellors populating a support group. The goal is to help the patient work through their problems by having different people work together to interpret various aspects of the treatment process. This helps the patient break free from past beliefs and patterns that may be negatively affecting them.


One thing's for sure – psychoanalysis has been around for a long time, and no one is certain what it will look like in the future. But in the meantime, more and more people are choosing to explore therapy with an analyst. If you've thought about seeing one yourself, we hope these facts have given you some insight into this mental health practice.

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