background image
21st May 2019 

What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy draws on theories and practices of analytical psychology and psychoanalysis. It is a therapeutic process which helps clients understand and resolve their problems by increasing awareness of their inner world and its influence over relationships both past and present. It differs from most other therapies in aiming for deep seated change in personality and emotional development.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy aims to help clients to understand and change complex, deep-seated and often unconsciously based emotional and relationship problems thereby reducing symptoms and alleviating distress. Many people who experience a loss of meaning in their lives or who are seeking a greater sense of fulfilment may be helped by psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

The relationship with the therapist is a crucial element in the therapy. The therapist offers a confidential and private setting which facilitates a process where unconscious patterns of the client's inner world become reflected in the client's relationship with the therapist (transference). This process helps clients gradually to identify these patterns and, in becoming conscious of them, to develop the capacity to understand and change them.

Who is psychoanalytic psychotherapy for?

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy provides an effective treatment for a range of problems, both as a treatment in its own right and as an adjunct to other forms of treatment. It can contribute significantly to client's mental and physical health, to their sense of well-being and to their ability to manage their lives more effectively.

Sometimes people seek help for specific reasons such as eating disorders, psycho-somatic conditions, obsessional behaviour, or phobic anxieties. At other times help is sought because of more general underlying feelings of depression or anxiety, difficulties in concentrating, dissatisfaction in work or inability to form satisfactory relationships. It may benefit adults, children, and adolescents.

Whether psychoanalytic psychotherapy is the treatment of choice for a particular individual depends on a variety of factors. It is often helpful to have one or more preliminary consultations with an experienced psychotherapist before deciding whether psychoanalytic psychotherapy is an appropriate treatment for the person concerned.

How are psychoanalytic psychotherapists qualified?

Psychoanalytic psychotherapists hold a position of great responsibility towards their clients and their profession. The preparation and training for becoming a psychoanalytic psychotherapist is both very lengthy and rigorous and the British Psychoanalytic Council requires its component organisations and their allied training institutions to maintain the very highest standards, particularly with regard to the selection and admission to trainings of those wanting to become psychotherapists. Most applicants for training will already be graduate members of one of the core professions such as medicine, psychology or social work and will also possess relevant experience in the mental health field. All training institutes recognised by the BPC are required to provide for the continuing professional development of their members.

About Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy #01