Psychoanalytic psychotherapy emphasizes the existence and significance of the effects of the unconscious mind.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a powerful, highly effective treatment approach for many people struggling with difficult emotions. In the words of Freud, “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” This form of therapy can help unearth and process unconscious emotions, paving the way for psychological growth.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy starts with the acknowledgement that unconscious factors can support an individual’s tendency to remain emotionally stuck. The treatment addresses these unconscious dynamics in an effort to loosen their grip on an individual’s psyche. A key part of this is by allowing the person to speak in a free way without setting tasks or goals and through the analysis of dreams.

For people who haven’t been successful in other types of psychotherapies, analysis may be a treatment approach worth considering.

Frequenty Asked Questions

Does Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy only focus on the past?

This is a common misconception about  psychoanalysis, the truth is, the unconscious knows no time. The past unquestionably informs—and impacts—the present, but psychoanalysis focuses on the here and now. Analysis considers not only what takes place in a patient’s day-to-day life, but also what transpires in the office between patient and therapist.

Do you have to lie down on a couch?

Depending on the analyst, there are no “have-to’s.” Does analysis work better if the patient is lying on a couch? That depends on who you ask—and on the patient. Humans are conditioned to read other humans’ facial expressions, monitoring and assessing them as a way to seek nonverbal feedback. Lying on a couch can be very useful in cutting down on this “visual noise.” That said, you don’t have to lie on a couch anymore, especially in instances where sitting is more comfortable for the patient. Children, adolescents, and particularly fragile adults will typically sit up during analysis.

Does Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy go on “forever”?

Because psychoanalysis facilitates a deeper understanding of the unconscious mind, change occurs on a much more profound level than traditional psychotherapy. As such, treatment can take longer. But it doesn’t have to go on forever. While every case is different, patients typically spend anywhere from 6 months to four years or longer in treatment. This timeline is similar to long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy.

The frequency of analysis varies by analyst. An analyst can meet with patients more than once a week.

Is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy only suitable for adults ?

Psychoanalysis  can be a very powerful treatment option for children and adolescents—particularly when traditional psychotherapy isn’t effectively addressing issues that are severely disrupting their lives. The psychoanalyst may work more creatively and not as part of the process.

Are Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists silent all the time?

Psychoanalysis often conjures images of an old, Freudian-style analyst who simply nods as the patient talks. This is another outdated stereotype. The analyst and patient both contribute to the process.