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Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Overview of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, or Psychoanalysis, is a long-term therapy seeking an in-depth understanding of oneself and resolution of fundamental conflicts within an individual's personality. This contrasts with the relatively shorter psychodynamic psychotherapy which effects more specific changes, such as addressing a relationship issue.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy assumes that we each experience unconscious desires and feelings which are socially unacceptable or too painful to deal with consciously. Our protective response is to keep these feelings in our unconscious mind where we do not have to be aware of them. To maintain this position, we develop defence mechanisms, for example, denial that a problem exists even when faced with robust evidence. This protects our conscious mind from having to experience painful or unpleasant aspects of ourselves.


Video: What is Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy?

Dr Ravi Lingam explains Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy

Psychological distress and symptoms result from unresolved conflicts experienced during childhood which have become buried in the unconscious mind to protect the individual. Where defence mechanisms become maladaptive, psychoanalytic therapy assists the client to bring these conflicts into consciousness, to experience the feelings from that time and begin to resolve those conflicts in relationship with the analyst.

Psychoanalysis was developed by Sigmund Freud and while some analysts strive to remain true to his original approach, several students and later generation analysts each evolved their own approaches to psychoanalysis, for example, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Melanie Klein, Erich Fromm and Karen Horney. Consequently, several types of psychoanalytic psychotherapy are now available.

Who uses it?

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is used by psychoanalysts.

Clinical Partners trained in this approach include: Alison Hunt, Tracy Goodman and Virginia Graham.

Why would someone use it?

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy explores past issues from family relationships and early childhood, as experienced by the individual at that time.

This therapy is less directive or prescriptive than some other therapies, such as CBT, ACT and MBCT.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is used to explore a range of issues, including depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, panic disorders, eating disorders, PTSD, body-image issues, relationship issues and low self-esteem.

Strengths of the approach:

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is a deep, long-term treatment, and lasts anything from months to years, depending on the individual and the analyst.


Psychoanalysis can typically involve 3 to 5 sessions per week and therefore requires a considerable time and financial commitment from the individual.

To arrange a therapist specialising in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy please call us on 0203 326 9160.

You don't need a GP referral to see an expert

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