What we mean by “Psychoanalysis”
Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy are similar in their underlying theories, they share basic techniques for exploration and understanding, and they aim for change that is deeper than symptom reduction. They differ from each other primarily in the intensity and depth of the exploratory process and in the breadth of understanding and change. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is more focused and limited in scope, while psychoanalysis is an open-ended exploration of all aspects of a person’s life.
Perhaps you're having trouble in work situations—repetitive patterns of disappointment in personal relationships, not getting along with your boss or co-workers, seeming lethargic and not connected with friends or colleagues, physical complaints that might be manifestations of underlying emotional conflict, or coping with personal losses and transitions. These are examples of times when consultation with a psychoanalyst can be extremely helpful.
Problems don't necessarily have to be severe to justify making the first call. You probably have heard the term "worried well" and may even apply that to yourself at times when you are at a loss to describe a general malaise you are feeling. Many people, for example, may be highly functioning at work and home, but troubled inside. While the term "worried well" has sometimes been used pejoratively, being worried, having long-standing internal conflicts, or even just curious about yourself and how your mind works, are valid reasons for speaking with a psychoanalyst. People who have concerns that interfere with the way they want to live their lives benefit from psychoanalytic therapy.
Psychoanalysis helps people address mental disorders and internal conflicts, and increase self-understanding and freedom. Much as we like to fantasize that life is easy and that we can create a perfect world around us, the reality is that living is fraught with ups and downs. Just as there are times in life when we need the expertise of a certain kind of accountant or financial planner when we're tackling how to secure our economic future -- or we need a specialist for a certain type of home improvement project -- so at times, some professional advice about personal issues can be invaluable in confronting seeming road blocks that are deterring our ability to experience a sense of emotional freedom about our lives and feeling unencumbered by events of the past.
It is important to understand that it's alright to need some assistance in making our way along life's path. The insight, understanding, and perspectives that can be gained through therapy can be invaluable to our sense of personal autonomy and fulfillment.
Psychoanalysis is often indicated when other less intensive therapies have failed to achieve the desired results. It truly offers something different and more comprehensive, and is a good place to turn when symptoms remain or behavioral or relationship patterns continue after one or two attempts at less intensive, shorter term psychotherapy.