What is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

psychoanalytic psychotherapyAlthough people have studied the workings of the human mind for millennia, the discipline of psychoanalysis grew from the theories of Sigmund Freud derived from his work in Vienna at the end of the 19th century. Today, we take many of Freud’s ideas for granted. The hidden influence of unconscious processes and the role of internal conflicts in mental health are considered obvious, self-evident truths. When Freud first propounded his theories, however, they were radical departures from convention, and they were met by fierce resistance.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy has continued to evolve since Freud’s time. Today, while there are many different schools of psychotherapy, psychoanalytic and otherwise, almost all of them owe something to the insights that Freud brought to the human condition. Modern day psychoanalysis involves talk therapy that addresses unconscious or subconscious conflicts and drives that are affecting a person’s behaviors and mood. Bringing these subconscious issues to awareness will meet resistance which the therapist must work around. It is the liberation of this deep material to consciousness which affects profound change.


How is it used by psychologists?

The classical method of psychoanalysis, the one employed by Freud, is still very much in practice. The client is encouraged to speak as freely as possible. The analyst listens. In general, the job of the analyst is not so much to offer profound interpretations or to proffer direct advice. Psychoanalysis considers the patient’s self-discovery to be the real source of therapeutic change. In contrast, with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) the therapist seeks to learn what their client wants out of life. They then help their client achieve those goals through listening, teaching, and encouraging, while the client’s roles is to express concerns, learn, and implement that learning. CBT does not delve into subconscious issues, and is concerned with how a person’s thinking affects their everyday life.

Modern psychoanalytic psychotherapy does not always hew to this exact model. Today, the principles of psychoanalysis can be applied to the treatment of children and adolescents, to group therapy and to short-term treatment when appropriate. When appropriate, therapists can be more directive and more forthcoming than the largely silent “classical” analyst, the blank slate upon which patients project their own perceptions.

In all of these settings, treatment entails the exploration of unconscious factors that often mysteriously direct a client’s life. Although each setting may approach this exploration in a slightly different path, there is a common focus on the relationship between analyst and patient as something of a microcosm of relationships in the patient’s daily life. Psychoanalysis utilizes the therapeutic relationship to gain insight into what motivates the patient in the wider world. That hard-won insight can then form the groundwork for growth and change.


How is it effective for mental health disorders?

Traditional psychoanalysis is an open-ended, profound process that is appropriate for persons with anxiety, phobias, depression and a wide variety of character and relationship problems that interfere with daily living. As part of the evolution of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, treatment has been adapted to apply to an even broader spectrum of disorders, including severe affective disorders, complex personality disorders and psychosis, often in conjunction with medication and other modes of treatment. The time frame of therpay can be modified where appropriate, so that short-term treatment can be used to help patients with discrete psychological problems. In addition, psychoanalysis has evolved and adjusted to the very real cultural differences that exist among patients, differences that can play a profound role in treatment decisions.

Today, the influence of psychoanalytic principles and methods is so widespread that there are few modes of psychotherapy in which those principles and methods do not play some role.


The Holistic Approach at PCH Treatment Center – Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Treatment Center

At PCH Treatment Center, while psychoanalytic psychotherapy treatment is a cornerstone in the treatment of most clients, we also incorporate CBT, intertwined with our approach to treatment and client care. Our professional staff is well versed in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, both as an independent modality and as a useful and productive part of our comprehensive program of evaluation and treatment. We take to heart the idea that treatment is often a collaborative partnership between therapist and patient. Overall, we never try not to narrow our options to a particular theory or school. Instead, we use the many effective tools at our disposal in the combination that will best help our patients to heal. The PCH clinical team assesses each client and develops a specific treatment plan, assigning specific therapists who may be focused on psychoanalytic therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, depending on the needs of the clients.

Contact PCH Treatment Center

11965 Venice Blvd., Suite 202, Los Angeles, CA 90066

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