Neuropsychoanalysis: A New Field?

As analytic therapists in New York, we are constantly buffeted by the various crosswinds of academic ideas. Whether it is cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, or neuroscience, we believe that interdisciplinary consideration is the surest way to stay relevant and effective in our work. This recent article caught our eye, as it concerns an ongoing search for the biological underpinnings of the self. One scientist is exploring the intersection between neurology and the various constructs of psychoanalysis:

As Solms told me: “There can’t be a mind for neuroscience and a mind for psychoanalysis. There’s only one human mind.”

Experiments on injury and disease are helping point the way toward the physical “addresses” of things such as the unconscious and the executive functions we call the superego. Ultimately what may come out of this research is a firmer support for Freud’s architecture of the mind, but only time will tell.

In the meantime, talk therapy remains the least invasive way to explore the passions and concerns of being human – no MRIs necessary. To find a therapist in New York today, contact the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center.

Find a Therapist in New York at PPSC

Are you searching for an experienced, professional psychotherapist to help you through some difficulties in your life? Many people start here on the Web, Googling terms such as depression and anxiety, searching for the one vetted resource that might point them toward an effective course of therapy. At PPSC, we offer patients a broad array of credentialed therapists who specialize in a number of issues, including:

Look around this site and you’ll see why our commitment to a psychoanalytic approach is the best choice for deeper, lifelong problems: analytic therapy is the only form of therapy that seeks to uproot some of the most basic causes of your distress.

To find a therapist in New York who can help you with the issues that may be holding you back in life, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at PPSC today. We look forward to speaking with you.

Why OCD Therapy Matters

On the heels of our recent post about the intrusions of anxiety comes a related first-person account, this one about the effects of obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD. The article manages to marry form to content, filling its prose with intentional cross-outs to give readers a glimpse into the endless corrections that OCD individuals tend to enact upon themselves and reality. This quote says it all:

OCD, real OCD, isn't like that at all. It's much, much more i̶n̶s̶i̶d̶i̶o̶u̶s̶ p̶e̶r̶v̶a̶s̶i̶v̶e̶ sinister than that. The best description that I can come up with is that it's like a parasite that attaches itself to your mind and grows and grows and slowly infects every aspect of your life. It's like a slow, unceasing progression. It starts in your thoughts, then your behavior, then your personality, and soon, it messes up your relationships with other people.

Treating OCD can be as simple as medicating it, or as difficult as undergoing years of therapy. For many, it may be necessary to work out the psychology behind the rumination and repetition.

Our sliding scale therapists in New York offer a wide-ranging approach to the treatment and resolution of OCD, anxiety, depression, and several other mental health concerns. If you’re looking for some deserved relief after years of struggling, please contact the analytic therapists of PPSC today.

A Clear Eyed Endorsement of Psychoanalytic Therapy

Psychoanalytic therapy is effective for many millions of people, but somehow this remains a topic of debate within the media. Thankfully there are voices such as this one explaining why psychoanalytic therapy works, and doing so with measured, rational language that anyone can understand:

‘One of the distinguishing features of psychoanalysis is that it focuses on people's experience rather than just their behaviour,’ says Keogh. In doing so, he believes that psychoanalysis has a particularly important role to play in helping people who have experienced ‘very protracted and intense developmental histories’, such as ongoing abuse.

But abuse alone cannot explain the great number of people who seek out psychoanalytic therapy; there must be something else at work. Indeed, our understanding of the human unconscious is the key, as it undergirds a great many issues of anxiety, compulsion and depression which touch us all:

However, he adds that tapping into the unconscious may also help people with recurrent problematic behaviour, where the patient cannot pinpoint a reason for their distress. ‘So we are very interested also in that which is not immediately conscious to patients, that may have some bearing on their emotional pain and the problems that they recurrently suffer,’ says Keogh.

PPSC is the nation’s leader at integrating the best ideas from analytic therapy with other modalities such as mindfulness. Our ultimate goal is to help our patients with the issues that ail them, and do so in a safe environment where the many benefits of talk therapy can flower. To find a therapist in New York today, contact us.

Is Talk Therapy Effective for Depression?

This article has stirred up a lot of media interest, likely because it appeared in the august New York Times instead of a smaller venue. Its thrust is that a great number of studies measuring the effectiveness of talk therapy for depression never get published, leading publications to a biased sample that inflects toward successful outcomes. It’s not clear from the article whether the balance of studies were sufficiently negative to impact the “correct” success rate for talk therapy in depression, or even why many of the studies’ authors chose not to pursue publication. For instance, it is possible that poor design and execution left some of the unpublished papers lacking.

What cannot be denied is that this particular proportion of publication is hardly unique to this area of psychology:

Disappointing as those responses may be, they’re part of a larger systemic problem within many fields of science — a so-called “publication bias” where researchers feel compelled, often inadvertently, to only publish flashy, positive studies and shelve away less impressive findings. It’s a bias that can have some serious repercussions in the scientific world. "It's like flipping a bunch of coins and only keeping the ones that come up heads," Hollon said.

Until we can analyze everything that’s missing, it makes sense to bemoan the lack of completist tendencies in scientific circles. But to declare talk therapy ineffective for depression seems a bridge too far, as numerous other publications and individuals have found.

If you’d like to speak with a depression therapy expert in New York today, please contact PPSC.

How Talk Therapy Works

At PPSC, we are not just analytic therapists; we are educators as well. A significant part of what we do involves training the next generation of therapists to give patients the best possible chance at a satisfying and fulfilling life. As educators, we are constantly auditing the practices we teach, and investigating what researchers have discovered about the mechanisms of psychoanalytic therapy. This article caught our eye for precisely this reason: it concerns a study that looked at the differences and similarities between drug therapy and talk therapy on the brain’s anatomy.

First, a caveat: nobody knows anything about how the brain works. The vanguard in neurobiological circles is to announce which parts of the brain “light up” under imaging, but there our insight sadly runs aground. Those “lit up” areas hide a trillion secrets about the actual mechanical work of thinking and feeling which science has yet to decode. Still, as a blunt instrument, neurobiology can at least show us where the brain is developing, which brings us to this passage:

Drug treatments tended to be associated with increases in brain activity in the limbic system and other sub-cortical structures, including in the insula. These areas are broadly associated with emotional processing, and the insula in particular is involved in representing our internal bodily states. [...]

In contrast, psychotherapy appeared to lead to changes to activation patterns in parts of the frontal cortex and temporal cortex — brain areas known to be associated with thinking about ourselves and to storing and processing memories.

In other words, talk therapy confers a more cerebral and “executive” benefit than drug therapy, but both may ultimately lead to similar results.

If you’d like to explore how talk therapy can help you with depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties, please contact the New York psychotherapists at PPSC today.

Help for Anxiety Disorders

Some people dismiss anxiety disorders as a matter of degree, believing that since we all get anxious, such disorders must be like that, but more. In fact anxiety disorders are completely distinct from the unease many of us experience in daily life, and they often strike in ways which are insoluble and destructive to everyday living. Many patients benefit from talking things out and understanding what is behind the anxiety – that is, what does it symbolize and where does it get its power? But sometimes the best way to understand the experience of anxiety is to dive into a first person account. This passage in a recent autobiographical piece captures an experience many of you may recognize:

It wasn’t until shortly after graduation that I gave in and found myself a therapist. And part of me still thought she’d laugh me out of her office to make room for people with real problems. But she didn’t, and in fact helped me wrangle my brain-monsters into a much more manageable state. I wish I’d found someone like her sooner; I’d thought I was being strong, but in fact I was getting more brittle by the day, putting all my energy into maintaining a hard shell that kept cracking despite my best efforts.

Availing yourself of strong mental health resources is an essential element in college and beyond. At PPSC, our analytic therapists offer compassionate and effective care to students and adults who are seeking some relief from the pain of constantly worry. To learn more, contact us today.

Freud, Adapted

As one of the world’s foremost training and clinical settings for psychodynamic therapy, we are believers in the power of Freudian analysis. Not the old-school, sex-obsessed incarnation that saw decadent symbols around every turn, but a more modern and nuanced version that incorporates ideas about the unconscious with a more measured politics. An ongoing battle has been pitched in journals and in the press about the relative value of psychodynamic therapy versus cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT has marshalled to its side some data that shows it can be effective for redirecting personal behavior and thought patterns, vectoring patients away from their most miserable states. Psychodynamic therapy tends to be slower, deeper and harder to quantify – but has in its corner a century of case studies demonstrating its effectiveness for a wide variety of emotional maladies.

This recent article takes a look at both sides, ultimately uncovering a little-discussed area of overlap and reconciliation:

But cognitive behaviorists who see patients on an ongoing basis, Walsh contends, draw on Freud. Some of today’s buzziest mental health topics, such as attachment theory and post-traumatic stress, are, in many ways, refurbished versions of what lay at the core of Freudian theory.

“Same concepts, new language,” Walsh said.

It is a wise perspective, and one that highlights the simple fact that anyone whose work involves listening to other human beings will eventually begin to focus on the deepest issues in each patient’s life.

Want to begin your own course of psychotherapy with a trained specialist who can help surface some of the issues that hold you back? Contact PPSC today.

Quick Advice on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy

We have written before about the intersection between mindfulness and psychotherapy. The two disciplines share some overlapping values, including a commitment to accepting and exploring the self no matter what we see. This recent post includes a brief collated list that remind patients how mindfulness can serve therapy, and vice versa. Of particular value is this elegant reminder that our pain can be instructive, even liberating:

“Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.” ~ Rumi

Of course mindfulness is more concerned with the present than the past, this is where the two approaches diverge. But there is no doubt that they share a similar DNA of self-discovery, or that there is value in gazing without fear into the whole of what makes us human.

Our New York psychotherapists offer an eclectic tool kit of therapeutic approaches, philosophies and knowledge. If you are interested in understanding yourself better in a course of analytic therapy that incorporates some of the best modern thinking about mindfulness, contact the psychotherapists of PPSC today.

Dispelling the Mysteries of Psychotherapy

As one of the premiere New York psychoanalytic therapy programs, we field a lot of questions from patients who want to understand how this sort of talk therapy compares to other techniques. The short answer is that we are principally concerned with causes, not symptoms: analytic therapy’s mission is to understand what lies behind the issues of depression, anxiety, doubt and other concerns. But there is perhaps an even simpler answer, published recently in this short column:

Psychotherapy works very simply – it enables you to see things about yourself or your life that you can't currently see and that is affecting how you feel, what you do, and what happens to you. Once you can see what has been making the things happen that have been happening, you can get your hands around it and do something to improve how you feel, what you do, or what happens to you.

The best reason to get into psychotherapy is relief: relief from pain, sadness, isolation, stress. Some of these elements originate in the world around us, but others originate from within, powered by many years of personal history. Talking through these personal stories is a way to steal their power, and to make sense of the choices we all make on a daily basis.

At PPSC, we specialize in low cost therapy, sliding scale therapy, and LGBT therapy throughout New York and the region. If you are looking for a specific area of expertise, don’t hesitate to find a therapist at PPSC today.

Understanding Sliding Scale Therapy

We field a number of questions about sliding scale therapy in New York, and about what patients can expect when they come looking for some financial relief. Although each therapist and each individual case is different, there are some basic definitions that may help you in your search for an affordable option. This site includes a simple overview of low cost therapy, and includes this helpful passage that prescribes Step One in your search:

The first place to check is with your current therapist. Many, but not all, therapists offer a fee service schedule for cash-only clients that may “slide” – that is, the fee goes down based upon your income. If you’re making a middle-class salary, the discount offered by such sliding scales may not be much. But if you’re in the lower socio-economic class, this discounted fee schedule can cut a regular therapist’s fee in half or more.

We take pride in our commitment to community mental health, and that means searching tirelessly for ways to serve more people of different incomes and backgrounds whenever possible. Our sliding scale therapy options include experts across a number of fields, including LGBT therapy, depression therapy and many more.

If you’d like to apply for a round of therapy that falls within your means, please don’t hesitate to reach out to PPSC with any questions.

A Widely Requested Course on Clinical Psychotherapy

Most of what we write in this space is for patients. PPSC is considered an institution of New York psychotherapy, and this website was built to act as a resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the philosophy and practice of analytic therapy. But from time to time, we also like to highlight our training programs, which have earned praise as some of the most effective and well-regarded in the region. This coming fall, we’ll be offering a new course to help therapists navigate the room better, and to work effectively with patients from every part of culture:

Clinical Journeys will help you make sense of what you’re already seeing and doing. In each seminar, you will learn to apply useful psychoanalytic concepts and frameworks to situations you come across each day. The course is built around a three-part structure that forms the basis of how to think about your work:

  • What am I seeing and hearing and experiencing in the room?
  • How could I think about what I’m experiencing? What do I wonder about?
  • What is my role? What do I do? What might make things change? What’s the work?

If you are a caregiver or therapist who wants to help your patients explore some of the most important issues in their lives without unnecessary obstacles, don’t hesitate to contact the psychotherapy educators at PPSC.

What’s The Patient's Job in Psychoanalytic Therapy?

Most people who are familiar with psychoanalytic therapy are familiar with the notion of transference, that is, the idea that the dynamics of “the room” can act as a prism and a simulacrum to enact and explore various relationships the patient has experienced before. What is less well known is what the patient should know going in, and how he or she can best contribute to a meaningful therapy. This piece in The Huffington Post examines some of the issues surrounding patient choices, beginning with a quick primer on what kind of therapy we’re talking about:

Before I go on I should clarify that the sort of therapy I'm referring to isn't directed or based on a manual. It's called psychodynamic, psychoanalytic or depth psychotherapy. This is traditional talk therapy as opposed to cognitive and behavioral therapies, in which the client is given specific directions. While cognitive and behavioral models have their benefits, many people prefer depth therapy because it makes space for thoughts and feelings to rise up organically, because it aims to get to the root of problems, and because it aims to promote growth by working with the entire personality rather than focussing on the eradication of specific symptoms.

An apt definition, and in important distinction for what’s to come. As the author explains, the patient’s responsibilities require forging a sense of honesty, both within herself and with the therapist:

1. Get real: Take off the mask and show your many faces.

2. Channel the flow of feeling: Have your feelings without your feelings having you.

3. Enough about them: Look deeply within for the sources of change.

4. Don't hold back: Forge an authentic connection with your therapist.

5. Be curious, not judgmental: Observe yourself honestly without attacking yourself.

6. Carry your fair share, and only your fair share: Differentiate when to take responsibility and when not to.

7. What's your story? Identify the recurring themes and fundamental beliefs that guide your life.

8. It ain't necessarily so: Build a better narrative and choose your beliefs consciously.

9. Do something! Continue your psychological work outside of sessions.

10. Into the fire: Use the challenges of your life as opportunities for growth.

It’s all good advice that hews to the experiences we have as therapists here in New York City. Patients who take an active role in their development and who continuously look for ways to understand themselves without judgment often do well in the analytic space.

To start your own psychoanalytic psychotherapy, please call or write us today.

Psychoanalytic Society Cheers for LGBT Equality

How far we have come: an organization that once famously pathologized gay and lesbian development has now issued a ringing endorsement of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, in which gay marriage equality became the law of the land:

"Marriage has a profound psychological benefit for married individuals and their families," said Mark Smaller, Ph.D., president of the American Psychoanalytic Association. "That is why in 2012, our organization issued a position statement opposing discrimination in civil marriage to same-sex and same-gender couples. Today, we are celebrating this momentous decision and in awe of all the courageous couples, advocates and leaders who helped get us to this historic day."

As strong advocates of LGBT civil rights, we are overjoyed to see that so many of our patients and our psychotherapists will be able to marry those they love anywhere in the U.S.

But it hardly detracts from our mission to continue focusing on the issues that LGBT youths and adults face. As a culture, we still have a ways to go in battling the many varieties of discrimination and confusion that still surround gender identity and sexual orientation.

If you’re looking for an experienced set of New York psychotherapists who understand the LGBT community, please contact PPSC today.

How Psychotherapy Helps Depression

A recent Dutch study was intended to explore whether psychotherapy can be helpful for treatment the symptoms of depression in diabetics. Because the study was randomized and controlled, a number of respected journalists have pointed to the study as good strong evidence of the efficacy of psychotherapy for depression:

Results revealed that both MBCT and CBT have persistent beneficial impact on depressive symptomatology and related symptoms, validating the evidence from previous researches regarding the long-term clinical outcomes of either MBCT or CBT.

Both psychotherapy methods (MBCT and CBT) are effective in treating depressive symptoms in a variety of clinical populations.

Although the study only focused on two modalities: MBCT, or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy; and CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it nonetheless showed strong value in the notion that depression can be treated with talking rather than through medications alone. Psychoanalytic, or psychodynamic therapy, wasn’t included in the study, but we know from similar research that all modalities tend to show something close to parity over short time frames when it comes to issues of depression.

Analytic therapy can also produce longer results that are slower and therefore harder to measure, partly because psychotherapy resists easy quantification. Yet we know that therapy designed to treat the root causes of depression can result in lasting relief, especially in individuals who don’t show a genetic or neurochemical predisposition to hopelessness.

Our depression therapy experts are among the finest therapists in New York, and our extensive training courses have developed top-rated Boston counselors, Philadelphia psychotherapists, and many more professionals. To begin speaking with an experienced analytic therapist today, contact PPSC.

A Poignant Piece About the Special Space of Psychoanalytic Therapy

A number of psychoanalytic therapists have been passing around this beautifully written piece from the New York Times. In it, the writer describes the strong and respectful relationship she always shared with the therapists who occupied the office next to her own. It is an unusual relationship: these are figures she sees several times a week, but they are people with whom she maintains a respectful distance, as accorded by the psychoanalytic endeavor and its emphasis on discretion. When one of those doctors grew slowly sick and eventually succumbed to illness, she was moved more than she ever would have thought possible:

Why am I sharing this small story? Perhaps because I love that psychoanalysis is a frame through which I have permission to pay close attention to peripheral vision, to things that are out of focus and not so conscious. Enigmatic dreams, childhood memories and mourning are all welcome, and they open me to my own feelings and to a wider range of human experiences.

Psychoanalytic therapy is about a great many things: communication, trust, exploration and facing that which is hard. It’s also about the small interactions that surround the therapeutic space, and how they cultivate a climate of emotional mindfulness.

At PPSC, we believe that psychotherapy can serve people’s health in uncountable ways, helping to ease depression, anxiety and a number of related maladies of the soul. If you’re interested in exploring what analytic therapy can do to improve your life, please contact us today.

Making Sense of Psychotherapy

We talk a lot in this space about the benefits of psychotherapy and the various emotional difficulties which psychotherapy can help. One area we don’t cover quite as often is logistics: things like insurance, screening and plans. This recent article offers a nice primer to some of the nuts and bolts of psychotherapy, including what to can expect from insurers and first visits. It does a fine job of addressing one of the biggest concerns about therapy – confidentiality – and it provides a simple overview of what it feels like to begin this journey with your therapist:

Psychotherapy can seem daunting initially, however, many patients feel more comfortable once they have had their first session. You are there to be heard, assessed, provided feedback and treatment so that you can work on ways to help you feel healthier overall.

Psychotherapy is based on trust and on shared goals, and the surest way to find a good match is to speak with people who understand the issues that are most important to you. At PPSC, we specialize in psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties and many more subjects. Contact us to learn more today.

All in Your Mind: Psychotherapy for Medical Problems

It’s no secret that the mind is part of the body, and that symptoms such as stress and anxiety can have a real and immediate effect on your physical wellbeing. Anyone who has ever felt nauseous with dread, or sleepless with shame, knows too well that the things we feel can influence the way we…well, feel. So it is perhaps no surprise that talk therapy aimed at resolving emotional issues can have an effect on the body as well. This recent article offers a digest version of the numerous ways that psychotherapy can help relieve bodily symptoms, including such diverse problems as IBS, chronic pain, even headaches:

Another recent study, reported in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics, found that a brief course of psychodynamic psychotherapy might be more effective than standard care in treating migraines and tension headaches in children.

If you find yourself feeling sluggish, fuzzy-headed, or without an appetite, you may be able to benefit from depression therapy or anxiety therapy here in New York. Contact the psychoanalytic experts at PPSC to learn more about how you can improve your health by improving your mental health.

What to Expect from Low Cost Therapy

Finding good low-cost therapy is often more meaningful than simply nailing down a good price. For many people, sliding scale psychotherapy represents a lifeline. But it can also represent a potentially awkward topic undertaken with their therapist:

Gutheil and Gabbard write, "Money is a boundary in the sense of defining the business nature of the therapeutic relationship. This is not love; it's work" (1993, p. 192). Thus the fee and fee arrangement are important determinants of the nature of the therapeutic process and the boundary of the patient-therapist relationship.

Reaching out to experienced analytic therapists is the easiest way to avoid a protracted negotiation over price. Many of them will have worked out similar arrangements in the past, and become adept at sidestepping some of the difficult and embarrassing parts of this conversation. You may even come away feeling better understood and supported than you did going in.

Working out a good system to evaluate and agree on pricing is a tricky process, but once it’s done, you can move forward with the really fruitful work of psychotherapy. Just watch out for a few familiar pitfalls along the way:

As with any fee arrangement, therapists should try to clearly articulate, preferably in writing, and agree upon the arrangement. The concern with the sliding scale is that it can put therapists and clients in a conflict of interest where clients may have an investment in presenting a scaled down financial picture in order to obtain a lower rate. If this negotiation takes place at the beginning of therapy, it can contaminate the therapeutic relationship. Some factors, such as retirement investments, upcoming inheritance, etc., cannot be easily factored into the equation of the sliding scale.

The moral: be open, speak clearly, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. At PPSC, we proudly offer sliding scale therapy for patients across New York. Start here to learn more.

Another Victory for LGBT Mental Health

In a milestone that has come to pass more than a few times now, Illinois recently voted to outlaw the dangerous and abusive practice known as gay conversion therapy. Advocates of LGBT rights and responsible mental healthcare are pleased to see this important watershed reach one of the most populous states in the nation:

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said: “By passing this important legislation, Illinois lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stood up for equality and against a dangerous practice that uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention. We urge Governor Rauner to sign this bipartisan legislation into law and protect the state’s youth from this harmful and discredited practice.”

What’s next for our culture’s understanding of LGBT psychology? How about gay-affirmative psychotherapy which understands LGBT patients on their own terms, and treats their issues with the same care and compassion as anyone else’s?

At PPSC, we have never pathologized the specific challenges and opportunities of LGBT life. Our gay-friendly therapists are among the most experienced in New York, and we are constantly looking for new ways to serve this broad community as effectively as we can.

To find an LGBT-friendly therapist today, please contact the psychoanalytic professionals of PPSC.