Psychoanalysis is a treatment approach based on the observation that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and behaviour. These unconscious factors may be the source of considerable distress and unhappiness, sometimes in the form of recognizable symptoms and at other times as troubling personality traits, difficulties in work and/or in love relationships, or disturbances in mood and self-esteem. Because these forces are unconscious, the advice of friends and family, the reading of self-help books, or even the most determined efforts of will, often fail to provide relief.
Psychoanalysis, as a treatment method, is based on concepts concerning unconscious mental processes originally developed by Sigmund Freud and further developed by a considerable number of experienced psychoanalysts who have followed.
Psychoanalytic treatment can reveal how these unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behaviour, trace them back to their historical origins, show how they have changed and developed over time, and help the individual to deal better with the realities of adult life.
In the course of intensive psychoanalytic treatment, the nature of the relationship which inevitably develops will have significant features deriving from the “internal world” of the analysand and become available for experience and exploration by the analysand and analyst together. It will become possible to understand many of these aspects more deeply and to work upon making meaningful desirable changes.
A person does not need to feel that they are in need of “treatment” in order to derive benefit from a psychoanalytic exploration of their own “inner world” and ways of coping with the world of people around them. A desire to “know oneself better” and – perhaps – to function better in the world may be sufficient motivation to engage in psychoanalytic exploration with a qualified psychoanalyst.
The most intensive form of psychoanalytic treatment is Psychoanalysis itself. This involves scheduling regular “sessions” of 45 or 50 minutes (depending from the country), from three to five times each week for a number of years (there are differences in frequency between different psychoanalytical cultures).
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, involves in general (but not necessarily) less sessions per week. Some patients start with one session a week, come to feel the need for more frequent sessions and will “build up” from a lesser number of sessions per week to a higher frequency.
The commitment to these arrangements is seriously made by both patient and analyst, and involves a commitment to pay also for missed sessions, when these may occur.
Psychoanalysis can be applied to psychoanalytically based therapies that take place in individual, group family and even organisational contexts.
I wish to thank the IPA website for this quote from their website