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.

Why Analytic Therapy Works

One of the byproducts of our science media’s sea shift toward evidence-based everything is that those of us who work in psychoanalytic psychotherapy are learning a little more about why this form of therapy works so well. Of course we have always taken an ongoing interest in how it works psychologically, but now there are some focused looks at precisely which parts of this process works the best, for the longest. Take, for instance, this recent piece, which tries to unpack why psychotherapy works when it does, and fails when it does. Unsurprisingly, the great benefit of analytic therapy rests on subjectivity, especially the relationship of transference/countertransference that defines the analytic space:

But we should keep things in proportion. Medications are way overused. Psychotherapy is way underused. Drug complications and overdoses are a serious public health problem. Psychotherapy complications are much less common. And much less severe. It would be a better world were there more therapy, less drugs.

Psychoanalytic therapy is a journey, and millions of people have experienced its lasting results. If you want to unpack some of the issues that may be holding you back, contact the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center in New York City today.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in the Huffington Post

It’s not often that the mainstream media takes a moment to pause and define psychoanalytic therapy for the masses. Although this form of therapy has been considered the gold standard in for more than 100 years, these days analytic therapy is often drowned out by glitzy headlines touting the latest discoveries in neurobiology. Yet talk therapy remains a timeless asset for many people, one unlikely to be replaced by chemical regimens anytime in the near future. This recent piece explains the practice and benefits of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, beginning with a wonderfully succinct definition up front:

Your unconscious thoughts and feelings affect what you do without your even knowing it. When you're unaware that it's happening, you can feel and do things and not know why. This can lead to anxiety, depression, difficulties with relationships, and problems with self-esteem -- all caused by things going on in your unconscious mind. Bringing them into awareness can help you to understand them, rather than be controlled by them. This is what psychodynamic psychotherapy is all about.

The full article is a very clean and lucid piece of writing that should help anyone interested in learning more about analytic therapy.

If you’d like to find a New York therapist trained in psychodynamic techniques, please contact the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center today.

A Rare Candid Conversation on Depression and Therapy

It is rare, albeit less so all the time, for celebrities to open up about their personal battles with clinical depression. Older stars in particular tend to maintain a culture in which all mental health issues came with stigmas attached. Which is why it was unusual this week to see two stars of a more senior generation, Dick Cavett and Stephen Fry, openly discussing their struggles with depression on the Huffington Post. Mr. Fry offered an illuminating assessment of what makes depression unique, namely that its agony, while invisible, may still lead to suicide, even in busy people:

Fry emphasized how seemingly-contradictory the messages we send about depression can be. "Okay, you've got this problem, it doesn't stop you from being a high-functioning individual," he said, and yet on the other hand, it can cause death. It's not to be taken too lightly, he said, and at the same time, it's not to be taken as a death sentence.

Of course this is the point: depression doesn’t have to paralyze you to impair your life in significant ways. The classic image of the depressive who can’t get out of bed in the morning is simply one face this problem wears; other symptoms may include quiet moments of despair, chronic sleeplessness, broken relationships and diminished productivity.

Depression can be caused by genetics, chemistry or psychology. The only way to know for sure is to try analytic therapy and explore whether your issues may are emotionally based, or simply biological in nature.

To find a therapist in New York who specializes in depression therapy, please contact PPSC here.