Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is an unstructured, medium to long-term talking treatment for mild, moderate and severe emotional difficulties. Whilst everyone experiences occasional emotional distress, for some people the problems keep coming back again and again.  In these cases, there can be unresolved conflicts from the past that are stirring up strong feelings in the present, pushing the individual into self-destructive patterns.  Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is indicated by the government N.I.C.E guidelines as a recommended treatment for people with recurring or complex emotional problems.  It is also an invaluable treatment for those with attachment difficulties, since the nature of the relationship between therapist and patient, and what it might represent, is one of the therapeutic tools of the treatment process.

It may be that you have previously sought help of a supportive nature but found your problems did not fundamentally change. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is suitable if you want to look deeper into yourself in order to make lasting changes.  There may be strong feelings attached to current issues which you cannot fully account for.  It can also be that you feel empty and lacking in the capacity to feel or express any emotions.  You may be experiencing a loss of meaning in your life, having difficulties in your relationships or in handling the pressures of everyday living. You may need to understand how traumatic or abusive relationships have impacted you.  This in turn can free you to make more positive and loving relationships in the present.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy can help you to uncover the underlying causes of your problems.  When painful memories are talked about they can begin to lose their power.  Facing up to your fears and your feelings can help you to discover new strengths and resolve some of the underlying symptoms. Knowing more about yourself can help you to make the changes you need in your life.

In psychoanalytic psychotherapy you are invited to speak as openly as possible about whatever comes into your mind.  As you talk, your therapist will listen and offer you a space to express yourself.  It can take time to build up enough trust, but after a while it is likely that you will find relief in sharing things which you had never imagined you could talk about.

You may also discover patterns in the way that you relate to your therapist and those around you.  As these emerge, it can be helpful to link them with past experiences which have influenced the way that you approach people.  A psychoanalytic psychotherapist does not give advice.  They will listen and try to understand.  Through an on-going conversation, they will help you to understand how your past experiences have influenced the way that you relate to yourself and to others in the present.

People seeking psychoanalytic psychotherapy are usually those who are seeking a greater understanding of their symptoms and behaviour.  So, in order to benefit from it, you will need to have some curiosity about the struggles you are facing. This motivation is important because psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be uncomfortable at times,  as well as rewarding. Facing feelings and experiences that you may prefer to forget or not think about can be hard.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is an evidence-based treatment and several studies have been completed and published showing its effectiveness. A good overview of this research is a book entitled ‘What works for whom?’ by Anthony Roth and Peter Fonagy.  A more recent  article from Scientific American published in March 2010 also offers

‘…the strongest evidence yet that psychodynamic psychotherapy — “talk therapy” — works.  In fact, it not only works, it keeps working long after the sessions stop.’ 

Click on the link for the story: