What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy and how does it work?
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is useful to people who wish to understand themselves and what is going on in their internal world, whether it is to deal with particular issues that they are facing (depression, loss, anxiety, etc.) or to find out more about themselves and the way that they carry themselves in their world. Through psychoanalysis, the individual has the unique opportunity to create and develop a relationship with their therapist and through this relationship to explore the ways in which s/he relates to others. This is accomplished in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment, allowing the person to freely bring into the therapy all the aspects of their personality and the issues that they are struggling with at any given time.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy makes for a very different journey for each person. For some people, mental and emotional distress arises from their difficulty to fully comprehend and make sense of their true self, with all their needs, aspirations, dreams and personal struggles. This creates a difficulty in accepting one’s self, one’s feelings, behaviours and thoughts. For others it becomes, at some point in their lives, incredibly difficult to organise, assimilate and make sense of their life and experiences, which ultimately results in a sense of internal chaos, confusion, depression, anger and other very difficult emotional states with their accompanying, equally difficult and sometimes persecutory thoughts. It is a common experience to feel that the world is quickly closing in, leaving less space and time for thinking, understanding and self-acceptance.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy serves to create this absolutely essential and precious space for personal growth to take place. Within this space, therapist and patient begin to slowly find the right words with which to describe, organise and understand, what may have thus far felt like unspeakable experiences and therefore incomprehensible. It is a basic tenet of psychotherapy that in order to understand what is going on inside of one’s self, one’s experiences, one needs to find the words to describe them. In the finding of these words, the emotional world finds expression and things begin to make sense and fall in place. Confusion and distress eventually decrease in frequency and intensity and it becomes easier to manage life’s challenges. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy provides a nurturing space for all of the individual’s thoughts and feelings so that s/he can begin to live an original life, discovering one’s true self. Situations where one previously felt at a dead end may change, providing new options and paths to follow. Solutions may be found to previously unmanageable problems. A sense of loss or a sense of difficulty in relationships with others and with one’s self that was previously intolerable can become manageable. Gradually, one finds their way to a more satisfying and creative life. Understanding the effects of one’s experiences and path in life, their history and how they got “here”, is important and necessary in becoming a stronger individual, more capable of handling and negotiating current challenges. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is no doubt a daring journey for the person undertaking it, but one that is also incredibly rewarding.
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