If you have struggled with issues long enough, you may want to get to the bottom of them. Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy do just that: we work to get to the bottom of painful patterns in our lives.
Modern psychology has been birthed out of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis was the first serious scientific attempt to understand the workings of the mind and its impact on behavior, feelings, desires, and even physical symptoms. Many of Freud’s first patients struggled with physical challenges that were resolved as he sought to find psychological meaning from the symptoms. Psychoanalysis is concerned with the root causes of emotional and physical suffering. It looks often in hidden places – like our past, our unconscious world, the world of transferences and defenses. And it looks also in plain sight: the way we speak or dress or react, how we may be suffering, what are our strengths and weaknesses.
Contemporary or Relational Psychoanalysis has focused on the relational world of each person as a primary point of exploration. In fact, modern psychoanalysis is highly integrated with infant research, child development, neurobiology, and trauma studies. We as humans are embedded in a relational web from birth (or before) onward. Because we need the significant other(s) in order to survive both physically and emotionally, we allow ourselves to be shaped into the types of people that make it easiest to get our needs met. Sometimes, we construct a way-of-being in the world that is not authentic, precisely because we discovered early on that authenticity was unacceptable. That way of being “sticks” with us and becomes us unless and until we are able to say, “Enough!” Changing our initially formed way-of-being is nothing less than an investment in freedom: choosing how to be in the world.
Unlike other forms of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis is broadly focused and works against the idea of reducing a person’s suffering down to behaviors or thoughts or feelings or stress-minimizing techniques. Psychoanalysis attempts to look at the whole person, body and soul.
To become a certified psychoanalyst, therefore, requires much from the practitioner: an additional 7+ years of training beyond one’s professional degree that includes 4 years of academic training, one’s own personal analysis (a minimum of 2 years), and at least two supervised training analyses (a minimum of 2 years each). This is what is required. Most practicing analysts continue in some type of supervision or analysis throughout their careers. Most are part of a psychoanalytic community that sponsors ongoing training events. Most continue to read the latest developments in the field. All of this is intended to help the analyst with one goal: to be a more authentic person in order to help others do the same.
If you have never considered it before, why not think about the benefits that could be yours from psychoanalysis?