Psychoanalysis facilitates lasting, more deep-rooted change in our lives by deciphering and disentangling the causes and function of underlying symptoms. By isolating such strands and pinpointing the function of a specific symptom, analysis makes it less likely that one set of symptoms be substituted for another. With this kind of change, we tend to feel more at home with our desires, less at odds with and more able to act in the world.
As no two symptoms are the same for two people, no two people will respond to a ready-made standard treatment. For very persistent problems, such ready-made treatments leave the individual causes of symptoms [singular and contingent for every human being] untouched. They tend to offer insufficient value compared to the more creative, long-lasting solutions a psychoanalytic treatment aims for.
This does not imply that short-term psychoanalytically oriented work cannot also have therapeutic effects: a shift in perspective or a different angle to a problem can be grasped even after a first session. However, treatment tends to work better when a person explores ramifications and associations, allowing the psychoanalyst to better catch the psychological nuances at stake and the individual to gain certainty about what matters in his or her life.
The principle "it is good to talk" is commonplace for any talking therapy, but Lacanian psychoanalysts focus precise and careful attention on the singular words that have unconsciously affected us, as an index of something more fundamental in our suffering.
Analysts focus on listening to what is unique in our spoken discourse - in personal histories, associations, dreams, fantasies, slips of the tongue and in fragments of our thoughts and speech - understanding them to be clues and connections to that which specifically affects a person's life, but also to what is authentically rich and vital to emotional life.
How Does Psychoanalysis Work?
Analysis aims to open up the space and potential for not only hearing what symptoms say, but also for giving space to allow new meanings to emerge and for ultimately forging new ways of being with what is fundamental to our identity and our lives. It is a treatment that allows us to open up pathways to what seems to obstruct, that is to find a singular way with feelings of impasse. After such an experience of talking about the detail of our difficulties in analysis, we can expect to overcome or suffer less from our limitations.
Psychoanalysts, particularly from the Lacanian orientation, train over many years to understand how to listen to and intervene effectively on the material brought to sessions understanding them to be clues and connections to what specifically affects a person's life.
Becoming a psychoanalyst includes many years of training, together with confidential supervision and lengthy personal analysis. It further requires the study of a number of different fields, such as philosophy, linguistics, logic and anthropology, plus an ongoing engagement with current theoretical and clinical issues and with how these are affected by changes in society.
What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy/Counselling?
Our practitioners offer short-term psychodynamic counselling or psychotherapy where individuals prefer this and find it sufficient.
Psychodynamic counselling and psychotherapy are therapies informed by the basic concepts and foundational principles of psychoanalytic theory, which stresses the importance of unconscious elements, as well as past relationships and past experience, in shaping current behaviour. These therapies understand symptoms of mental distress to carry personal signification sometimes linked to partially conscious and unconscious conflicts and tensions. It is only by isolating the material that recurs in such symptoms that more creative, singular solutions can be sought.
The overall length of treatment varies according to the individual, the issues worked on and the frequency of sessions.
Some people who have tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or a short-term course of counselling report that where some symptoms have lifted, the effect may not be lasting, or they say that other symptoms have come to replace the original symptoms.
Longer-term psychoanalytic work may be desirable in such instances.