My Psychanalytic Approach to Treatment

Psychoanalysis has come a long way from the classical style and theories of Sigmund Freud and what is often portrayed in television shows and movies. Contemporary psychoanalysis is a form of therapy designed to deal with emotional suffering through a comprehensive examination of both the symptoms and sources of the problems.  Through understanding the origins and sources of your emotional suffering, we can go beyond mere symptom relief and work to heal and transform your suffering.  Symptom relief and deeper self-exploration are not mutually exclusive however, and both are addressed in the forms of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy that I offer.

Engaging in therapy is a commitment of time, money and energy.  Therefore, when beginning any therapy, understanding both your motivations for seeking treatment and the ways your therapist works are important areas to examine and consider.  Below is a brief overview of my psychoanalytic philosophy and style.

What is psychoanalysis?

There are many different types of treatment approaches for different types of emotional suffering. Chronic and complex suffering is generally less responsive to brief counseling techniques. These problems tend to have deeper origins which do not respond to counseling techniques that focus on symptom relief such a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). To work with both symptoms and sources, psychoanalysis places a strong emphasis on emotions, thoughts, behaviors and relationships. We not only work to relieve symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression) but also explore the origins of your issues. We then explore ways of understanding and treating the origins of your issues which are still having significant impact on your mental health. Part of treatment is to recognize when the origins of your problems are activated, the triggers that continue to fuel them, and new ways of dealing with them. We can then transform these origins of your suffering in ways that create and promote vitality and meaning in life. An important part of this process is that we will explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviors in a non-judgmental way. The goal is not on judging them as “right” or “wrong” but for you to gain understanding of yourself and your issues.

What should I expect if I engaged in psychoanalysis with you?

The psychoanalytic relationship can provide a safe and nonjudgmental place for you to explore your beliefs, emotions and behaviors.  You can expect that memories, thoughts, behaviors and emotions you have (and at times avoid) will surface in your sessions. These issues will be experienced and explored together in sessions. We will also examine how they link to difficulties you are struggling with in your life and relationships. You can expect at times this work will feel good and helpful, and other times appropriately unsettling and slow moving. When your emotions become intense, expect that we will do our best to keep these emotions and experiences “contained” so that they do not become too overwhelming.  The more you are able to tolerate and explore your feelings, the less control they will have over you, your relationships, and your behaviors in life.   

So, what does the patient do in psychoanalysis?

Generally, the patient’s job is to attend scheduled appointments and to be as open as possible in sessions This may sound easy, but at times can be difficult. For many people, it is difficult to believe intense problems they are ashamed of, worried about or fear they might be judged for having, can be talked about without shame or judgment. Often it takes time to reveal in sessions the details, thoughts and feelings that relate to your problems. Sometimes people feel anger, fear, distrust or other emotions toward their therapist that are similar to the feelings they experience in other relationships. This is called “transference” and it is healthy and important because we can use it to your benefit. The transference helps us experience and explore your feelings toward other people, and yourself, using our therapeutic relationship.

What is the frequency of sessions?

While frequency varies, you can expect that in working with me to attend a minimum of one session per week and many patients attend two times per week. Obviously things occur (holidays, vacations, illness) that make attending some weeks improbable.  However, it is important that there be regular attendance. As you may be noticing from this reading, psychoanalysis is more than a weekly 50 minute session with a therapist. Significant insights for both patient and therapist can occur between sessions when problems explored in session continue to be thought about independently during the week.

Complex emotions need to available and out in the open for us to experience and understand them. Too much time in between sessions tends to allow emotions to settle back down. While this can be relieving, often it delays our understanding of the issues and perpetuates avoidance of these chronic and complex emotions. Many times, the session you don’t want to attend is the session you need to attend. Regular appointment attendance is also important in keeping issues and emotions that surface out in the open. Too much time in between sessions has a tendency to allow what has surface to subside in ways that make it easier to avoid these uncomfortable emotions if your next session is in two weeks rather than sooner.

Fees, Insurance and Schedule

My fee is $150 for a 50 minute session and I do not take any forms of insurance. I want to stress that if you chose to engage in psychoanalysis, your therapy will become part of your lifestyle. Session times will begin to carry equal importance to other hours of the day.  The fee becomes part of your monthly budgeted expenses. Again, chronic and complex problems require a more involved treatment necessary for healing and transformation.