Originating in Freud’s groundbreaking contributions and then refined and developed though the last century, psychoanalysis represents the foundation and cornerstone of nearly all psychotherapeutic treatment and theory. With its reliance on talk, the psychoanalytic method remains on the cutting edge of effective, substantive mental health intervention.
As a therapy, psychoanalysis is based on the observation that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and behavior. These unconscious factors may create states of unhappiness, sometimes in the form of recognizable symptoms and at other times as troubling personality traits, leading to problems in work or in love relationships or disturbances in mood and self-esteem. Because these factors are mostly unconscious, the advice of friends and family, the reading of self-help books, or even the most determined efforts of will often fail to provide relief to overcome these various conditions. Psychoanalytic treatment demonstrates how these unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behavior, enabling the individual to understand how their current difficulties link to their historical origins, thereby increasing self awareness and empowering the individual to deal better with the realities of life.
Specifically, analysis is an intimate partnership in which the patient becomes aware of the underlying sources of his or her difficulties, not simply intellectually, but emotionally. These conditions create the analytic process, which permits the emergence of aspects of the mind often out of the awareness of the patient. As the patient speaks, hints of the unconscious sources of current difficulties gradually begin to appear- particularly in certain repetitive patterns of behavior that the patient frequently finds hard to talk about, and also in the ways the patient relates to the analyst. The analyst helps elucidate these factors for the patient, who refines, corrects, rejects, and adds further thoughts and feelings. During the time an analysis takes place, the patient wrestles with these new insights, creatively reviewing with the analyst and experiencing them 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.