There are many types of psychotherapy available which can all seem a bit confusing at first ! This section describes what psychoanalytic psychotherapy is about.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is sometimes referred to as ‘the talking cure’. It is based on the premise that our actions, beliefs, thought patterns are not just the result of conscious and deliberate choices we make about our lives but can have their origins in our unconscious selves. What is unconscious by its very nature cannot be known about in the same way as we consciously think about things, yet it can manifest itself in very powerful and unexpected ways. For example:
- apparently irrational thoughts which don’t seem to have any bearing on how we consciously understand our situation but which keep nagging away at us.
- Physical symptoms which might not have an obvious physical cause and may instead be an outlet for emotional problems
- Images in dreams or even nightmares
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy involves making connections between things that can often appear unconnected. In a session you may find yourself talking about something that is important to you in your every day life which, as we begin to explore together, might begin to resonate with situations and relationships from your past. It might also begin to ‘be played out’ in the relationship between us. My role is to facilitate an understanding of what is going on by listening and responding to what you are saying (or, just as importantly, what you are not saying). My belief is that what is not being said can open up the way to understanding more hidden or rejected parts of ourselves that can be at the root of our internal and external conflicts.
It is important to say that I don’t offer a magic cure or a quick fix ! Through my own experience as well as training as a therapist I recognise that emotional difficulties can gain a tenacious hold over our lives and won’t let go easily. What I can offer is a respectful and non judgmental approach to whatever brings you to therapy. Also, a way of thinking about emotional conflicts that I hope will help you, over time, develop your own awareness and understanding. Ultimately, that is what matters.
It is perhaps also important to say that self understanding is not always a pleasant experience. Negative thoughts and intense feelings can be stirred up through therapy. What can help contain these is a commitment by both of us to maintaining regular and ongoing sessions.