What is psychoanalysis?
Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis and the first psychoanalyst. Psychoanalysis is founded upon an understanding that the human mind includes an unconscious dimension and provides a way of understanding ourselves, our lives, and our behaviour. Many of his insights into the nature of the human mind are now so widely accepted that their origin with Freud is often overlooked. At the same time Freud’s ideas on the nature of the mind and relationship continue to generate as much interest and debate now as they did when they were first published.
Freud's innovative method was to simply provide the patient with the opportunity to talk freely while he listened. Freud’s concept of the unconscious continues to be the basis of the psychoanalytic method today. Freud demonstrated that people are often unaware of factors that determine their emotions and behavior and that unconscious conflict plays a significant part in determining both normal and abnormal behavior. Much unconscious conflict has its origins in early life and this can make symptoms slow to change so that the work requires time.
These unconscious factors may create unhappiness, symptoms, troubling personality traits, difficulties in work or in love relationships, disturbances in mood and self esteem. Because these forces are unconscious, friendship and self-help research often fail to provide relief.
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What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is a process which takes place in a relationship between psychotherapist and client who work together to explore the client’s distress and difficulties. This approach is based on the understanding that memories and feelings that were too painful or disturbing for the person to bear were repressed in the unconscious where they continued to exert a powerful, but hidden, influence on the individual’s life. We may become aware of this phenomenon in our lives when, to our dismay, we discover that we have been repeating over and over again, patterns of relationships or life choices that we belatedly recognize were destined to bring us pain from the outset.
The psychoanalytic process opens up an ongoing revelation of our hidden selves. In practice, it takes the form of the client talking, encouraged by the psychotherapist to say whatever comes to mind. The therapist listens with great care to what is being said. As the therapy proceeds, this experience of freedom to speak leads to increased spontaneity and ease in the client who becomes more able to acknowledge and express feelings and thoughts that had been deeply buried and link these to current experiences.
Is this process for me?
The most straightforward way of discovering this is by having one, two or three initial consultations. As well as providing the necessary basis for a treatment it provides an opportunity to spend time together and have experience of each other.