new york psychotherapists

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.

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.

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.

Will This Take Long? Deliberative Psychoanalysis in a Frenzied World

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy does not fit neatly into many modern notions of instant gratification. More probing than CBT, more deliberative than behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis is more like a journey than a jump start: a lengthy and labyrinthine effort which takes the mind itself as its subject. How deep you go is entirely a matter of how much you want to learn. This article imagines a set of answers to the question of how long an analytic therapy should ask, turning the dialogue back on the patient:

The answer I usually give isn’t the one people want to hear, because I answer with a question: “How long should yoga last?” “How long should you study piano?” “How long should you learn chess?”

The entire piece is worth a read, as it nicely describes what happens when the “honeymoon period” ends and the patient begins doing the real work of surfacing unpleasant or uncomfortable feelings. Hang in through this rocky period, however, and it can yield important and life-altering dividends for many years to come:

People who respond to psychoanalytic psychotherapy are people who want to understand themselves. How long will that take? You can stop an archeological dig at any time. Or you can keep digging and see what else turns up. It’s your choice.

To begin your own journey and speak with a New York psychotherapist today, contact the PPSC.