Check that a therapist who claims to be a qualified psychoanalyst has internationally-recognised Institute of Psychoanalysis membership.
- Psychoanalysts should have carried out their own psychoanalysis on themselves for 7 years.
- Psychoanalysis can belong to schools of psychoanalytical thought (Freud, Jung, Lacan etc). Most psychoanalysts are also doctors, philosophers or psychologists.
Why would you see a pschoanalyst?
If you want to get to know yourself better and understand your past, and you’re an introspective person, psychoanalysis could appeal to you. The discipline of psychoanalysis was founded by Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Jaques Lacan. It guides the patient through an exploration of the subconscious to discover the underlying reasons behind neurosis and suffering. It is particularly effective on family problems and worries. However, if you suffer from depression, you want help to get through a tough time or just want to resolve a problem, a psychoanalyst can't always help you. Psychoanalysis isn’t a cure; and it’s a long, hard and painful experience. If you don’t want to talk about pain, it's not for you.
Methods of psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is best known as couch therapy. You lie on the couch to help you relax and let go. Some people don’t like this position, however, and it isn’t always used: sometimes psychoanalysts deal with patients face to face. The analyst sits beside or behind the patient and encourages him to express his thoughts, emotions, memories and other fantasies freely. The analyst doesn’t interrupt the patient much, but simply guides him through an exploration of his subconscious by pressing anything that seems interesting further. This process is called transference. The psychoanalyst doesn’t hold the keys the patient is seeking: these are buried within and are brought out by psychoanalysis. The process of psychoanalysis takes a number of years if you have 2-3 sessions a week; it continues until the analyst and patient decide to end the treatment. It’s a big undertaking, but if you want to finish the treatment you need to give it time.
Psychoanalysts work in public organisations as well as in private practice. There are over 250 psychoanalysts working within the NHS, many of whom also work in higher education, psychiatry, child psychotherapy, adult psychotherapy, psychology, social work and family therapy. Treatment is possible on the NHS for certain patients. A session lasts from 20-50 minutes; the IPA (International Psychoanalytical Association) does not set a standard fee and costs vary greatly. Some psychoanalysts and instututes offer reduced fees for patients on low incomes, while professionals in training also offer less intense psychanalysis at a lower cost.
For more information about psychoanalysis and trained analysis: www.psychoanalysis.org.uk