What does the psychoanalytic psychotherapist do?
Drawing on her experience and knowledge of the human psyche and the practice of psychotherapy, the psychoanalytic psychotherapist (in both in-office and online therapy) works as a fellow traveler in your therapeutic journey, helping you to find your path on the issues you are struggling with. The manner in which the therapist listens to your narrative, as it unfolds and the way in this narrative is analysed, helps to bring to the surface and our awareness elements that were to this point hidden and unconscious.
In this way, psychoanalytic psychotherapy provides you with the opportunity to speak about issues and experiences that you may have never had to chance to talk or even think about, and to see them clearly and through this process to better understand what is happening inside you on a deeper level. The result of this process is that issues previously shrouded in confusion and lack of meaning become clearer, so that you can become better able to understand yourself and gain a greater sense of control over your life, emotional state, behaviour and thoughts, as opposed to being controlled by them.
One such instance is the sense of guilt. The understanding of its origin and the manner in which it affects one’s feelings and resulting actions, can help them to turn it into something more creative, and to move forward to thoughts and actions that will help to relieve this sense of guilt, so that you’re no longer governed by it.
What does the psychoanalytic psychotherapist not do?
The psychoanalytic psychotherapist does not ‘magically’ know what is happening for you. As your therapist, I do not know this by having a few sessions with you. We acquire this knowledge together as your narrative unfolds, during the entire process of psychotherapy. I do this with respect for you and your life choices, your experiences and perception, and through my continued effort to comprehend the world you inhabit, both internal and external. With the understanding that each person arrives at a particular state of being through their own very individual journey, as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, I do not provide ready-made solutions to particular problems. I see my role not as an authority that ‘knows better’ and will tell you what is best to do, but as a fellow traveler in your therapeutic journey, helping you to explore, identify, name and better understand what is going on for you, so that together we can find resolution and solutions, in a way that will strengthen your sense of agency and confidence in your own mind and abilities.
The idea that the psychotherapist has a map of the client’s mind and psyche and therefore can easily provide a solution to the client’s problems, or somehow knows his/her secret needs and desires, is false and can also be considered disrespectful to the client and the very long journey that s/he has taken to arrive at this point. Moreover, it can be experienced by the individual as falsely relieving (“I don’t have to say much because the therapist knows what’s going on already…”), as persecuting (“…she knows what’s going on inside me, so she’s already criticising me…”), and indeed, some people may quite rightly experience it as insulting (“…how can you possibly presume to know me, or what’s going on inside me, when we have hardly spoken…”).
I do, however, help you to think on the issues you’re struggling with, to understand and to see how you arrived at this point, and to find your own solutions, thereby hopefully empowering you.