Originating in Freud’s groundbreaking contributions and refined and developed through the last century and up to today, psychoanalysis represents the foundation and cornerstone of nearly all psychotherapeutic treatment and theory. With its reliance on talk therapy, the psychoanalytic method remains on the cutting edge of effective, substantive mental health intervention.
As a therapy, psychoanalysis is based on the recognition that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and behavior. These unconscious factors may create states of unhappiness or confusion, sometimes in the form of recognizable symptoms and at other times as troubling personality traits, leading to problems in work or in love relationships, disturbances in mood and self-esteem, or perhaps a sense of general overall dissatisfaction. Because people are unaware of what underlies these feelings and behaviors, the advice of friends and family, the reading of self-help books, or even the most determined efforts often fail to provide relief. Psychoanalytic treatment illuminates how these unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behavior, how current life difficulties can be linked to historical, now unconscious, origins. Unravelling old patterns and increasing self-awareness empowers all of us to better deal with the realities, difficulties and appreciation of all life has to offer.
Analysis is an intimate partnership. Analyst and patient work together as a team, uncovering step by step, the underlying sources of the patient’s difficulties, not simply intellectually, but emotionally as well. This analytic process permits the emergence of thoughts, feelings and motivations often out of the awareness of the patient. Through conversation, hints of the unconscious sources of current behavior and feeling states gradually begin to appear. Patient and analyst begin to take note of repetitive patterns of behavior or ways of relating to others, even as they occur within the therapeutic relationship. The analyst helps elucidate these patterns for the patient, who in turn, refines, corrects, rejects, and adds further thoughts and feelings. Throughout the analytic process, the patient wrestles with these new insights, creatively reviewing them with the analyst and becoming increasingly aware of their presence in daily life, in fantasies, and in dreams. Patient and analyst join in efforts not only to modify crippling life patterns and remove incapacitating symptoms, but also to expand the freedom to work and to love. Eventually, the patient’s life, his or her behavior, relationships, sense of self, changes in deep and abiding ways.
CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOANALYSIS
Child and adolescent psychoanalysis is an offshoot of the adult psychoanalytic approach, sharing a common theoretical framework for understanding psychological life while also using additional techniques and measures to deal with the specific capacities and vulnerabilities of children. For instance, the young patient is helped to reveal his or her inner feelings and worries not only through words, but also through drawings and fantasy play. In the treatment of all but late adolescents, parents are usually consulted to round out the picture of the child’s life and functioning. The goal of child and adolescent analysis is the removal of symptoms and of the psychological roadblocks that interfere with normal development.
Group psychoanalysis represents one of the major technical innovations in psychoanalytic treatment over the last 100 years. Built on psychoanalytic developmental theory, the psychoanalytic group experience offers patients a unique opportunity to experience and explore both inner emotional concerns as well as important relational issues in the context of a safe, private and open atmosphere. Group work can be highly effective with deep seated character and socially based conflicts and symptoms.
As a standard approach the individual participates in both group and individual psychoanalysis. Working in tandem such as this can prove highly effective and efficient at facilitating personal growth and insight. Individuals often participate in weekly group meetings (4 to 9 participants) along with their individual sessions.