Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a talking therapy that strives to gently address the unconscious root causes of emotional distress and patterns of behaviour.
Over time, the client is able to access and understand hidden, unconscious influences on relationships, thought processes and behavioural patterns. In bringing such influences into conscious awareness, the individual can recognise and minimise their limiting effects thus permitting a stronger, more fulfilled and creative self to evolve. We sometimes use the analogy of taking back the helm of our ship as it is tossed about on the ocean of life.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be applied to a wide range of issues including (but not limited to): depression; anxiety; phobia; loss (bereavement, relationship, position/sense of place, identity, health); stress; relationship difficulties (personal, home, work, school/college); physical, mental and sexual abuse; obsessional thoughts/behaviour; trauma and self-harm.
Symptoms and behaviour in the individual are also to be found in the structure of organisations, their systems and culture, the ‘individual is writ large’ so to speak . Since its foundation by Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis has had a psycho social extension in which the principles and structures that apply to individuals in a clinical setting, are extended to groups, institutions and cultures. For that reason, psychoanalysts continue to participate in sociological research and discourse internationally – see for example, the extensive work of Vamik Volkan  and a bit closer to home, the work of Mitch Elliott et al [1,3].
When selecting a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, it is important to ensure they are accredited or have embarked on an accreditation program with the relevant authority, that ensure the required education and training requirements have been met and the therapist has been deemed competent to practice. A National and European Register of accredited psychotherapists in Ireland may be found at http://www.psychotherapycouncil.ie/
Listen to the podcast below of my interview for NearFM radio, on the topic of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
1. Elliott, M. (2005.) Charting the Cultural Habitus of the Irish Republic’s Protestant Community: A Psychoanalytic Perspective. Mind and Human Interaction, vol.14:16-50.
3. Elliott, M., Bishop, K., and Stokes, P. (2004.) Societal PTSD? Historic shock in Northern Ireland. Psychotherapy and Politics International, 2:1-16.