Psychoanalysis – or psychoanalytic therapy – is one of the most used treatment methods, but mental health consumers often misunderstand it. The aim of this therapy is to help patients understand the unconscious forces that can play a major role in their current behaviors, emotions, and thoughts.
This form of therapy is based upon the theories of Sigismund Freud, who founded the school of thought, also referred to as psychoanalysis therapy. This therapy looks at how the unconscious mind impacts thoughts and behaviors. Psychoanalysis often involves looking at early childhood experiences to discover how these events might have molded the individual and how they contribute to current actions.
How Does Psychoanalysis Work?
Psychoanalytic therapists usually spend time listening to patients sharing their lives, which is why this technique is often referred to as ‘the talking cure.’ The counselor looks for patterns or key events that may play a role in the client’s current issues. Psychoanalysts believe that childhood events and unconscious feelings, thoughts, and motivations have a significant part in mental illness and maladaptive behaviors.
In response to what the patient does, the counselor spends a lot of time listening and thinking. For the therapist, it takes careful attention, mental digestion, and time to develop a comprehensive understanding of what is happening inside the patient, why it is happening, and how it molds their life today. When the therapist has some understanding of these unconscious motions, they put that understanding into words. This is called interpretation.
Benefits of Psychoanalytic Therapy
Similar to any approach to mental health treatment, psychoanalysis can have its pluses and minuses. The degree to which these benefits and drawbacks affect the choice to use this method depends on a few factors, including the individual’s preferences and how severe the symptoms are.
In the past few decades, there has been major research validating this technique’s benefits. The therapist offers an empathetic and non-judgemental setting where the client can feel safe in unveiling feelings or actions that have led to stress and troubles in their life.
Usually, simply sharing these issues in the context of a therapeutic relationship can be healing. Moreover, it has been shown that this kind of self-examination can lead to continued emotional growth over time.
Conditions Treated by Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis may be used to treat several different psychological conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, phobias, psychosomatic disorders, anxiety, identity issues, emotional struggles or trauma, relationship issues, sexual problems, and self-destructive behaviors.
People who are likely to benefit from this therapy method are usually those who have been experiencing symptoms for a while. People might choose psychoanalysis when they have long-term symptoms of depressed mood, anxiety, and behaviors that have a negative effect on functioning and life enjoyment.
The Bottom Line
Although some critics have tried to downplay the success rates of psychoanalytic therapy, recent studies suggest that this treatment approach can be an efficient treatment for a wide range of issues. Psychoanalysis was also shown to be effective as it reduces symptoms and leads towards lasting improvements.