My Approach to Psychotherapy

My approach to psychotherapy is one that integrates several different schools of psychoanalysis and is therefore integrative psychoanalytic/psychodynamic psychotherapy and draws from Jungian Analytical and Post-Jungian Psychoanalysis, Contemporary Object-Relations, Intersubjective Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic Self-Psychology, and Relational Psychoanalysis. I also incorporate interventions from other types of therapy such as Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Mindfulness Interventions, and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), where appropriate.  

Aims of psychoanalytic psychotherapy

This approach is in my view best thought of overall as a way of understanding human experience and putting it into language that helps to develop personal insight, discovery, growth, and meaning, along with a desire and capacity to take responsibility for what is contributing to one's difficulties.  Whilst there are different schools of psychoanalytic thought in psychotherapy, it has often been argued that these differences are more philosophical rather than practical. Most schools of psychoanalytic psychotherapy aim to help people to break free from repetitive patterns in their lives that are typically unhelpful and problematic and to make structural changes in personality.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is also intended to help you get increased relief from the symptoms that might be troubling you. Typically the changes achieved in successful psychoanalytic psychotherapy allow persons to have a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationships, not only with others, but with themselves and therefore lead to more enriched relationships in general. It can help with understanding patterns of self-sabotage and assist with developing a greater tolerance for ambiguity in life. It can allow persons to have better access to a wider range of emotions, along with better tolerance and acceptance of difficult and painful emotions. Thereby it can help to improve life satisfaction and self-esteem, whilst assisting in the development of a richer sense of personal and life meaning. Overall it can provide an opportunity to make better life choices and gain personal freedom.

What psychoanalytic therapy involves

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy typically involves an exploration of a person's emotional and inner life. In psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy this is often referred to as the unconscious, as it deals with aspects of a person's mental and emotional life that sit outside of conscious awareness. In this approach the therapist and client/patient meet on a regular basis. This means that the therapist and client/patient meet for sessions once or more a week to work collaboratively together in order to gain a deeper understanding of the patient/client's internal world. Due to the nature of this work this type of therapy is pretty much what we consider to be “dose dependant”, which means the regularity of sessions is important in order to help achieve and maintain gains made and is not a casual arrangement. If you are looking for something less frequent, you may want to consider other options, as psychoanalytic therapy is a serious comitment. This often consists of discussing your life history and significant relationships in your life, exploration of emotions, fantasies, and dreams, as well as the relationship between the therapist and patient/client as it occurs in the room.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy looks at how the past repeats itself in one's life and how unhelpful patterns of relating and behaving interfere with living a fulling and meaningful life. This is conducted in a professional, therapeutic relationship that is empathic, respects personal subjectivity with curiosity and awe, has compassion, and allows you to be you. The aim is to develop a deep emotional understanding of your life and what holds you back. It is therefore an emotional experience and understanding and not a process of being intellectual about your life and problems. It is typically suited to persons who place a high value on personal development, growth, and personal improvement and want to know themselves much better, feel better, and get more out of life. 

Short-term or long-term therapy

I primarily tend to provide long-term psychotherapy, however I also provide short-term psychotherapy. Typically short-term psychotherapy consists of somewhere between 6-20 sessions once or more a week. It is usually helpful if one has previously enjoyed reasonably adequate psychological health and functioning and their problems have been of short duration, with a clearly identified onset, and a limited set of symptoms.  Short-term psychotherapy is much more limited in its scope and is generally confined to dealing with one or two specific problems.

Long-term therapy is what I primarily offer and tends to consist of 40 or more weeks of treatment, with sessions occurring once or more a week. This is typically indicated if one's difficulties have been of longer duration and involve repetitive patterns.

Evidence for Psychoanalytic/psychodynamic psychotherapy

There is growing evidence that psychoanalytic/psychodynamic psychotherapy is an effective treatment for a range of psychological difficulties and is often found to be at least as effective as CBT when the two therapies are compared in research studies. Furthermore evidence tends to suggest that the benefits of psychodynamic psychotherapy may be longer-lasting than many symptom focussed treatments, and that the gains made in psychoanalytic psychotherapy increase over time. Some of these findings still require further research. Below are some links relating to the evidence for psychoanalytic/psychodynamic psychotherapy.

 

British Psychoanalytic Council, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy What is the evidence ?

The Efficacy of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, by Jonathan Shedler (Published in American Psychologist)

A summary of some of the evidence for psychoanalytic psychotherapy (This is from the International  Association for Analytical Psychology)

Let the Evidence Show: Psychodynamic Therapy Provides Lasting Benefits (Published in Psychology Today)

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (Published in Psychiatric Times)