Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine if I need psychotherapy?
Everyone at some time in his or her life has problems. This is a part of the human condition. In an effort to deal with their difficulties, individuals talk with their friends or families, join support groups, seek assistance in their places of religious affiliation, or attempt to deal with their problems themselves. Often, these solutions are sufficient and the individual is helped. Sometimes, however, they are not adequate. An individual's problems and symptoms may be too painful, to complex, and too longstanding to respond to the above interventions. It is these individuals who need professional assistance.

How do I determine if psychoanalysis or psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy might be useful to me?
Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy are useful in treating a broad range of emotional problems. The best way an individual is able to determine if such therapy would be helpful is to consult a psychoanalyst.

Are these therapies helpful to everyone?
No. While most patients who need psychotherapy are helped by these approaches, due to individual differences, some people find these therapies more useful in helping with their particular difficulties than others do.

How do I select a psychoanalyst?
While all psychoanalysts are highly trained and capable, select an analyst that you feel reasonably comfortable with (keeping in mind that no one is completely comfortable when they begin therapy) and feel you can relate to. If you have any doubts or questions, talk them over with the analyst you are consulting.

I've heard that psychoanalysis is an outdated treatment method. Is that true?
The profession of psychoanalysis continues internationally in the spirit of all modern scientific disciplines. Included in the field of contemporary psychoanalysis are professional associations and societies, scholarly publications and journals, and scientific meetings. In addition, there are literally thousands of patients throughout the world in psychoanalysis or psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy.

As briefly as possible-What is psychoanalytic therapy all about?
An honest, in-depth look at yourself in an effort to understand yourself and resolve the problems you are having.

Is it true analysis goes on for ever?
No, it is not true. The idea is to resolve as soon as possible the problematic emotional issues that brought you to therapy . It is true that, in general, emotional difficulties have had a long history, and have been with the individual for a long time. It takes time to truly resolve the emotional difficulties, often deeply part of the personality, and to change.

What is the length of a psychoanalytic session and what is the fee?
Most analysts have forty-five minute sessions. Each analyst, being an independent practioner, sets his or her own fee. Some analysts have a range of fees.

Do analysts accept insurance?
While most analysts operate on a fee-for-service basis, most accept traditional insurance, if the policy covers psychotherapy. The analyst may request that you submit your own claim forms. This is often helpful in the avoidance of third party intrusions into the therapy.

Can I be assured of complete confidentiality?
Psychoanalysts are highly concerned about confidentiality. They understand that for therapy to be most effective the patient must be able to talk openly and freely. This can only be guaranteed if you pay for the treatment yourself and request the analyst to keep no process records of what you talk about in your sessions (most analysts do this anyway). If you use traditional insurance, the analyst will be required to give a diagnosis. Should, for legal reasons, like a divorce, you receive a subpoena for your records, only the dates of your sessions and diagnosis will be available. If you are in a managed care situation, you basically waive all rights to confidentiality.

If the analyst keeps no process records of what I talk about, how does he or she remember what goes on and what is important?
Analysts form a "mental picture" of the patient as they get to know the patient intimately, much in the same way a person would form such a picture and memory of someone important in life-for example one's spouse. Included in the analyst's "mental picture" would be the significant memories and events of a patient's life, past experiences and personality patterns, and areas of problems and difficulties. In addition the analyst has a working knowledge of what issues are being dealt with in the therapy in the present. The analyst also keeps an open mind to new developments which may arise in any session. It is a requirement for an analyst to have a good memory.

Why the couch in traditional psychoanalysis?
The couch is not mandatory. It is, however, a useful "tool" for some patients. Lying down, with the analyst out of sight, helps the patient to relax, to focus more on what is on their mind, often allowing them to speak more freely and openly about their thoughts and feelings. Some patients, however, are more comfortable sitting and facing the analyst.

I heard Freud was an atheist. Are all psychoanalysts atheist?
No. There are psychoanalysts of all religious persuasions, and all psychoanalysts respect their patients religious beliefs, whether or not they are the same as the analyst.

Am I "weak" if I cannot work my problems out by myself? Shouldn't I just be able to "pull myself up by the bootstraps" and get on with life?
If someone had a broken leg or for that matter any physical illness, he or she would not hesitate to consult a physician. Yet, for certain people there is a sense of shame about not being able to "fix" their own emotional problems. This is probably the result of a lack of information about the nature, causes, and complexities of emotional problems, and what is required to deal with them effectively.

Will I become completely dependent on psychoanalysis, unable to function without it?
The emotional dependence/independence spectrum is an issue for all human beings. Some people feel they need someone upon whom to be totally dependent in order to function in life, and it causes them serious problems if threatened with the loss of this person. There are other individuals who cannot be dependent on anyone. These people have difficulties forming intimate, close relationships. Psychoanalysts try to help people resolve whatever problems they have in this spectrum, not take advantage of them. If an individual becomes overly dependent on the analyst, it becomes an issue to be resolved in the analysis. Likewise, if an individual needs to keep a "wall" up in their relationships, that too, becomes an issue to be worked on.

What is meant by "applied psychoanalysis"?
Since psychoanalysis is a comprehensive theory of human mental functioning, psychoanalytic thought can be "applied" to understanding all forms of human endeavor, for example the arts, literature, and film.

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