Psychoanalytic Therapy is a treatment modality based on Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. Its purpose is to identify and explore repressed feelings as a cause of emotional struggles, depression, relationship issues, and more. Oftentimes, memories of painful and distressing experiences are buried deep within. Although this is a common defense mechanism, not wanting to address these issues can contribute to current and future psychological distress.
At Blair Wellness Group, we can help you get to the root of your problems by helping you uncover thoughts and feelings that you never knew existed. We understand that sharing uncomfortable feelings or discussing traumatic experiences can be difficult, but bringing these issues to the surface is the first step toward healing and a better future.
Understanding Psychoanalytic Theory
At the heart of Psychoanalytic Theory is the idea that you have to acknowledge the unconscious thoughts and emotions that influence your struggles and difficulties in order to gain freedom from them. In other words, there’s often much more that goes into understanding why someone may have a hard time maintaining a relationship or choose to engage in self-destructive behavior. Oftentimes, people aren’t even aware that unaddressed feelings from long ago are contributing to their present-day troubles. Although it may be difficult to confront and discuss stressful triggers, it is only in doing so that one can finally put the past behind them and learn to manage life’s challenges in a healthy and effective way.
There are many different types of psychotherapy, one of the most well-known being Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT teaches patients how to change negative thoughts and behaviors as they exist in present-day terms, usually without spending much time considering the influence of one’s past. Although CBT is still a widely recognized and accepted way to treat many different mental health concerns, depending on the person, there are some reasons to also consider psychoanalytic therapy.
First, Psychoanalytic Therapy focuses on the emotions that someone is feeling and how they might affect behavior. By taking a thorough inventory of one’s thoughts and emotions, patients can be made aware of how they might influence self-destructive behaviors. Beyond taking an emotional inventory and identifying recurring themes, psychoanalytic therapy can help people move beyond past hurts and trauma and heal interpersonal relationships in order to live more fully in the present.
Psychoanalytic Therapy Vs. Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalytic Therapy and Psychoanalysis are often used interchangeably, but there are in fact several differences between the two. First, psychoanalysis is used to describe an intensive, long-term form of psychotherapy aimed at releasing repressed emotions and experiences. Psychoanalytic Therapy may have some of the same goals but does possess a few significant differences.
Although it may be rooted in the 150+-year-old theory of psychoanalysis, today’s Psychoanalytic Therapy is quite different. First, it doesn’t require years of therapy by a psychoanalyst. Instead, patients work with someone trained in psychoanalytic therapy over the course of a few months or more, depending on their unique needs. Second, some of the conventional methods of performing psychoanalysis including free association, transference, and dream interpretation, have come under some scrutiny with regard to the way in which they were executed in Freud’s time. Today’s modern-day methods used in psychoanalytic therapy , however, utilize a more empathetic approach in a nurturing and non-judgmental environment.
Techniques Used in Psychoanalytic Therapy
As previously mentioned, psychoanalytic therapy is rooted in psychoanalysis, and therefore it uses similar techniques, although they may be practiced differently than they were in Freud’s age. The following are some of the most popular methods to help someone gain a better understanding of the link between their past and present.
This is a process in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy whereby a person is asked to verbalize their thoughts and feelings without restriction. They are encouraged to freely share whatever it is that comes to mind — even if those thoughts or words come across as unassociated, incoherent, or have no apparent meaning. To a trained psychologist, free association is a helpful tool that can reveal clues to the past and connections that may otherwise go uncovered.
The analysis of dreams is another method that is sometimes used to gain insight into unconscious thoughts, needs, and desires. Dreams can be mysterious and their purpose is not fully understood, however, they can help a psychologist discover repressed feelings that a patient may not realize existed in their conscious life.
Transference refers to the phenomenon of projecting one’s feelings about someone else onto another person. In the case of psychoanalytic therapy, that other person is usually the psychologist. When this happens, it’s often considered to be a therapeutic opportunity that allows the psychologist to use a current scenario to help the patient understand thoughts and behaviors that might contribute to problems outside of therapy.
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Uses for Psychoanalytic Therapy
Psychoanalytic Therapy can be used alone, or in combination with other forms of psychotherapy, to treat a wide variety of mental and emotional challenges. Some of those include:
- Relationship issues
- Substance Use Disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Sexual problems
- Personality disorders
- Self-destructive behaviors
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderPTSD is a mental health condition brought about by a traumatic experience. Although some symptoms are similar to acute stress disorder, those suffering from PTSD often have realistic and intrusive memories related to the event that takes place in the form of flashbacks or nightmares. These experiences along with incessant feelings of being in potential danger can make it difficult for someone with PTSD to carry out normal daily responsibilities, engage in meaningful relationships, or simply enjoy life.
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