What is psychoanalysis?

Based on the theories of Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis works with memories, dreams and free associations to explore unconscious feelings and bring experiences of childhood to the surface which may affect our processing of the present. This type of therapy is usually long-term, lasting anywhere from several months to many years, often involving more than one session a week. Psychoanalysis uses the relationship between the analyst and ‘analysand’ to examine the emotional world and relationship patterns of the client.

Freud believed that feelings deemed unacceptable are banished from consciousness through a process of repression. Psychoanalysis aims to air these repressed thoughts, which are believed to cause conflicts in the client, resulting in anxiety, depression and a troubled sense of self. These unconscious aspects are explored in the therapy through the intervention of the analyst, who is trying to break through the analysand’s defences. Psychoanalysis has developed and changed significantly since Freud’s time, and newer models of relational psychoanalysis, influenced by feminism and critical theory, have updated ways of thinking about gender, sexuality and social contexts.

Who benefits from psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis can be beneficial for those with long-term issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma and sexual and relationship problems. It suits those who are curious to know more about how their mind works and why they behave the way they do. Psychoanalysis is one way of resolving the inner conflicts which impede life satisfaction.

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Last updated on September 21 2015