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 formulated by Sigmund Freud and then further developed by many experienced psychoanalysts.
Psychoanalytic treatment can reveal how these unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behaviour, 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 develops between patient and analyst 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 core patterns more deeply and to work to make meaningful, wished for changes.
The most intensive form of psychoanalytic treatment is Psychoanalysis itself. This involves scheduling regular “sessions” of 45 or 50 minutes (depending on the analyst), 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) fewer 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 this analytic “setting” is a serious one on the part of both patient and analyst.
Psychoanalysis can be applied to psychoanalytically based therapies that take place in individual, group, family, and even organizational contexts.