Whether you’re interested in psychoanalytic therapy, couples therapy, or psychoanalysis, I believe that collaboration is key to growth and improvement. In your therapy experience, we’ll strive to reach a deep, shared understanding of your sense of who you are. We’ll explore your reactions to other people in your life and your expectations about what they can and cannot give you—and what you can and can’t give back. Sometimes these expectations are based on nurturing early experiences, but they can also be founded on deprivations or traumas that darken your attitudes about yourself, about relationships, and about life’s possibilities. In your therapy, I am committed to the idea that change is always possible as long as we are members of a team working actively together.
Psychoanalytic therapy (sometimes referred to as psychodynamic therapy) is intended to address sources of symptoms and in this way help you eliminate or control them. Issues blocking you may be out of your conscious awareness, and so we’ll help you connect with deeper parts of yourself and experience your feelings in a safe therapeutic setting. We’ll look together at aspects of your past and your history of previous relationships, but we will always emphasize the here-and-now features of your life that are causing you distress. Our ultimate goal is to help you find strategies for doing things in new ways so that you feel more freedom of choice about how you’re living your life.
Every couple brings to their relationship features of their experiences with people they’ve loved, as well as convictions about their own self-worth and needs. These attitudes are often hard to identify because they’ve become so much a part of each partner’s sense of self that they’re out of conscious awareness. However, such assumptions can be the basis of powerful conflicts and miscommunications for couples. Working together, we’ll unearth these underlying beliefs and patterns of reaction so that both members of the couple can come to a fuller knowledge of themselves, can understand their own expectations and responses, and can build new bridges to greater connection with each other.
Psychoanalysis is an immersive form of therapy, with individual and analyst meeting three to five times a week. It’s intended to provide a non-judgmental, containing space in which the relationship between individual and analyst is viewed as a microcosm of the way you are in the outside world. We’ll look closely at the interactions between the two of us to find out if you’ve developed rigid ways of coping that cause you pain beyond the therapy office. A goal is to help you arrive at a profound understanding of who you are and can become, and in this way help you achieve a more flexible, spontaneous, and creative approach to your life.
The psychoanalyst never speaks.
Psychoanalysts do strive to listen well, with sensitivity, to what people are telling them. Because my theoretical orientation is intersubjective and relational, I’m committed to the reality that any therapeutic treatment involves collaboration. Therefore, the responses of all individuals are important in building trust and moving forward. While you remain the center of our work together, my thoughts and reactions are part of our discussions.
Psychoanalysts only want to talk about your childhood.
It’s true that early-life experiences of caregivers form a basis for our later expectations of ourselves and others. But the reason to investigate childhood issues is to shed light on the life you are living today. Therefore, for most analysts, it’s important to work in the present, with the challenges you’re currently facing. The past is brought in as it helps us understand who you are right now.
Psychoanalysts think everything is about sex.
In his foundational work with patients, Sigmund Freud emphasized erotic feelings and their role in psychological conflict. Freud was born into a nineteenth-century culture in which the acknowledgement and expression of sexual impulses was largely suppressed; in working to liberate his patients, he sought to normalize sexual feelings. Today, over a century later, psychoanalysts recognize many elements in addition to sexuality that motivate our behavior. Among these are desires for attachment, self-actualization, and creative play. Because there is no “one-size-fits-all” for therapy, these desires, and many others, may be addressed in analytic treatment.
Analytic treatment takes forever.
To explore the foundations of who you are—and to effect lasting change—does take dedication, time, and energy. However, the goal is to achieve meaning and richness for you in your life outside the therapy setting. There will be a time for ending our work together. We’ll decide on this as a team, as your everyday reality and life in the wider world are enhanced.