Psychoanalytic, or psychoanalysis, therapy is used for people with depression, emotional trauma, emotional struggles, neurosis, personality disorders or self-destructive behaviors (Counselling Directory, 2017). It is based on Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, which trusts in the premise that “as patients become more comfortable and less resistant to facing their issues and are able to understand their own motives and behavior, healing can begin” (Psychology Today, 2017).
Psychoanalysis is a method of psychological treatment defined as the “application of psychoanalytic theory by analysts in order to ameliorate the emotional, mental, cognitive and behavioral disorders that interfere with the analysand’s satisfactory functioning” (The Practice of Psychoanalysis, 2004). In fact, psychoanalysis therapy is a psychotherapy that aims to make the patient become aware of his unconscious mental elements in order to expand his self-understanding. This should have the purpose of enhancing his adaptation in order to function better in society. Moreover, this should help alleviate the symptoms of his existing mental disorder as well as help him change his character and enhance his emotional growth (ABE, 2004).
Psychoanalysis assessment already begins the process of analyzing the patient. The clinical social worker should make sure that the patient receives adequate assessment by having a face-to-face meeting with him and gathering data about his biological, environmental, psychological and cultural qualities and conditions. Moreover, diagnosis should already try to evaluate the personality structure of the patient, his symptoms, internal conflict, psychological patterns, adaptations to trauma, and other conditions (ABE, 2004).
We can do it today.
Psychoanalysis treatment itself has a number of considerations. Typically, psychoanalysis is conducted while the patient is lying on a couch and with the analyst not in his line of sight. The treatment itself is characterized by several and frequent sessions in order to promote the depth and intensity of the therapy. This is for the patient to gain access to deeper levels of his unconscious needs and impulses, and for the analyst to properly assess these. The process involves the analyst inviting the patient, or analysand, to say “whatever comes to mind, without self-censoring” while paying attention to his content, emotions, dreams, associations, and slips of the tongue (ABE, 2004). At the same time, the analyst shares impressions, makes emphatic comments, expresses his feelings, and encourages the patient to explore associations among those comments, actions or feelings he has mentioned. Also, at the same time, the analyst also helps the analysand to overcome certain resistances in expressing these associations. The goal is greater insight into how emotions and mind work together (ABE, 2004).
Psychoanalysis therapy involves analysis of dreams and defenses in order to alleviate the patient’s conditions. Furthermore, the analyst listens to the patient’s descriptions of his dreams and analyzes the symbolic expressions in these dreams. The analyst then explains the possible interpretations of these dreams which may have been unknown to the patient. Moreover, the analyst describes and explains the patient’s psychological defenses. Eventually, the analyst helps the patient to change by helping him in self-reflection through a greater awareness of the self and through a greater sense of mastery towards the self. Naturally, this also releases painful and repressed emotions and memories (Psychology Today, 2017).
Psychoanalysis therapy may have some disadvantages. First, it is very time-consuming. Second, people must have time and money invested for therapy. Third, the discovery of painful memories may cause more distress. Fourth, there could be a power imbalance between analyst and patient. Fifth, it may not suit certain people whose mindset may work better with behavioral or cognitive therapy (McLeod, 2014). Nonetheless, these disadvantages are not meant to discredit the great number of people helped by psychoanalysis therapy.
- ABE (2004). The Practice of Psychoanalysis: A Specialty of Clinical Social Work. A Position Statement of The American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work. Salem, MA: ABE, 1-42.
- Counselling Directory. (2017). Psychoanalytic therapy.
- McLeod, S. (2014). Psychoanalysis.
- Psychology Today. (2017). Psychoanalytic Therapy.