Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis

People usually come to psychotherapy and psychoanalysis because their lives are not going the way they had hoped. They feel unhappy and are often frustrated that nothing they try seems to make things significantly better. They may be dealing with unhappy relationships, problems in their work lives, or perhaps they lack the ability to enjoy the benefits of what they have worked so hard to accomplish. They may struggle with feelings of inadequacy even though they have achieved a great deal in their lives. Often they are confused about why their lives feel out of control and have no idea what to do about it.

My approach to working with people with these sorts of difficulties in their lives is multi-faceted. While current circumstances certainly play a large role in the way lives play out, it is also true that we all develop as individuals out of a set of formative influences during earlier phases of our lives. Children devise a set of coping skills appropriate to their age and level of development at the time, but these skills must change as one grows older and matures. One must be able to replace, or amend, earlier coping skills with more effective ones appropriate to later and more mature levels of development. When this process of development falters somewhere along the way, the older person using coping skills from earlier years finds that not only do they no longer work so effectively, but they may themselves become part of the problem. In addition, people are often unaware of how certain situations stir up these old (and now maladaptive) ways of coping.

Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis provide a safe and confidential environment in which the collaboration between the therapist and the person seeking help can result in an effective understanding, both emotional and intellectual, of these kinds of difficulties. This work and the understanding that arises from it allows the person to gain better control over those areas of life that seemed so unhappy,confusing and out of control.

Psychotherapy: When I work with an adult in psychotherapy it is in a once- or twice-a-week treatment that provides the framework for the understanding of the issues described above.

Psychoanalysis is a more intensive treatment (three to four times a week). This framework allows the continuity and intensity that some people need so that the understanding can happen on an emotional as well as intellectual level. The experience within the sessions and in the relationship to the analyst becomes an important part of what is helpful in the work. People who have long standing problems and /or who have been in a number of previous treatments that have not helped would be people that I might talk to about this more intensive approach.

For a fuller description of psychoanalytic psychotherapy please read Jonathan Shedler's "What Was then, This is Now: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for the Rest of Us at

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