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Relational Psychoanalytic Therapy and Psychoanalysis in Chicago

About Psychoanalysis

Originally based on the work of Sigmund Freud’s theory of personality, contemporary psychoanalysis has undergone many changes and is still a powerful form of therapy today.  Psychoanalysis is an extension of psychodynamic psychotherapy, which focuses on unconscious thoughts and feelings that determine behavior and various mood states. Both psychodynamic therapy and psychoanalyis are conducted by a professional trained in specific skills that help to explore the conflicts of the mind and the sources of distress in one’s emotional life.  Many of the problems that bring people to psychotherapy may be addressed in depth in psychoanalysis:  feelings of depression, issues in relationships, confusion of identity, the experience of loss, difficulties in one’s family of origin.  Long-standing issues that never seem to never reach a comfortable resolve are often best addressed in psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

For some people, however, there may be a wish to ‘go deeper’. Psychoanalysis is more of a commitment than psychotherapy because it demands a person be highly committed to attended sessions 3-4 times per week. In psychoanalysis, taking the time and using the intensity of more frequent sessions allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the self.  This intensive treatment may make it more likely that a person will resolve problems in self esteem, relationships, sexuality and mood. 

Entering into a this type of commitment may seem daunting. It is a strenuous process, however the process of psychoanalytic treatment is deeply rewarding and transformative.

If you are interested in more information about reduced fee psychoanalysis, contact Melinda Rezman at 773-506-4459.

FAQs about Relational Psychoanalytic Therapy

What Is Relational Psychoanalytic Therapy?

If you've heard of psychoanalysis, the word might conjure up an image of a patient lying on a Victorian couch and a silent, gray-bearded man nodding behind her. You may be under the impression that this form of treatment is old-fashioned and has gone by the wayside. Well, psychoanalysis is alive and well and has undergone many changes over the past century. It remains one of the most effective treatments for certain types of psychological or emotional problems. Relational therapy explores the impact of early and current relationships on a persons sense of self and wellbeing and uses the interection between client and therapist to help the client understand patterns in all of her relationships.

What is the difference between psychoanalytic therapy and other types of psychotherapy?

Most therapists and analysts today agree that psychoanalysis is a type of psychotherapy and that the two have many commonalties. However, there are several features that typically distinguish psychoanalytic therapy from other treatments. The first is the goal of the therapy. Many types of therapy attempt to solve a specific problem or change a certain behavior. In psychoanalysis, the focus is on self-understanding, particularly on understanding parts of ourselves that are usually outside of our awareness. Recent neuroscience research has established what psychoanalysts have always believed: 93% of the mind is unconscious. Through psychoanalytic therapy, we can gain access to important unconscious thoughts and feelings that effect our actions.

A second difference is the structure of the treatment. In psychoanalytic psychotherapy the client often comes to therapy 2-4 times a week. The frequency makes the treatment more powerful, gives painful feelings the opportunity to emerge, and creates the best environment for significant changes to take place. In psychoanalytic therapy the client may lie down on a couch with the therapist sitting behind her out of sight. This may help the client feel more open and introspective. However, in relational psychoanalytic therapy, the need to stay connected to the therapist may take precedence, and the client may prefer to face the therapist.

Another distinguishing feature of psychoanalytic therapy is an emphasis on the relationship between the therapist and the client. Relational therapists believe that patterns of interaction in the client's personal relationships will emerge in the therapeutic relationship. Paying attention to these patterns exposes both participants to a firsthand experience of what the patient encounters in her life, and gives them the opportunity to address these phenomena directly in the moment. Clients are then able to change long-standing beliefs about themselves and others and bring this knowledge back to their day to day life.

Why choose relational psychoanalytic therapy?

As you may have gathered, psychoanalytic therapy is a process that can be time-consuming, lengthy, and expensive. With so many types of therapy promising quick results, why would anyone be interested in this approach? Here are a few situations where psychoanalytic therapy may be the most effective treatment:

1) The problems you are experiencing are long-standing, repetitive, and significantly interfere with your life. Examples of this would include getting into one unsatisfying relationship after another, chronic failure to achieve goals and reach your potential, a long history of vague anxiety and depression, or a feeling that you cannot "be yourself" or act spontaneously. While there are many types of therapy that address specific behavior problems, crises, or trauma, psychoanalysis is often better able to alter more pervasive general dissatisfaction.

2) The problem seems to stem from an unconscious conflict. Often we are aware of how we want to act, yet repeatedly find ourselves doing the opposite. Psychoanalysts believe there are thoughts and feelings outside our awareness that have a dramatic impact on how we lead our lives. The intensive, open format of psychoanalytic therapy helps us gain access to hidden parts of ourselves and gives us more freedom to choose our behavior. Examples of problems that may indicate unconscious conflicts include being drawn repeatedly to people who don't treat you well, mysterious physical symptoms that don't seem to have a medical basis, sexual problems, procrastination, or unintentional self-sabotage, such as constantly losing and forgetting things.

3) Other less intensive therapy has not been helpful or not helpful enough. Once a week therapy is often useful in providing some immediate relief or helping overcome a symptom such as panic attacks or compulsive behavior. However, if after a long period of psychotherapy you find yourself feeling stuck, you may want to consider psychoanalytic therapy. However, it is not good timing to begin psychoanalysis when in the midst of a crisis. The psychoanalytic process can be stressful and sometimes causes you to feel worse before you start to feel better. It is important to be in a relatively stable period of your life when beginning this exploratory work.

What will happen in psychoanalytic therapy?

You may have heard terms like "transference" and "regression." Sometimes these ideas could lead you to believe that psychoanalytic therapy will be very frightening or uncomfortable. Understanding these terms may relieve some anxiety.

Transference refers to feelings you have toward important people in your life that come up in the relationship with your therapist. These include both positive and negative feelings. Transference gives you the opportunity to understand feelings you had growing up and how these still influence you today. One type of transference you may have heard about is called erotic transference, which is often described as "falling in love" with your therapist. This is one of the many feelings that some people experience and is a route to understanding yourself and your loving and sexual feelings better.

Regression refers to feelings from early childhood that are re-experienced in the therapy. This does not mean that you literally turn into an infant or a two year-old, only that you get in touch with how you may have felt at that age. If these feeling become too overwhelming, your therapist will help you find ways to manage them.

Equally important to the old feelings that are re-awakened in therapy is the chance to have new feelings with your therapist and to discover new ways of being in a close relationship. Over time, you and your therapist will get to know each other well and to share intimate experiences. Your therapist, at different times, may feel like a parent, a lover, a sibling, or a close friend to you. Your therapist, by becoming an important part of your life, can help you to let go of patterns based in the past and to learn that there are new and better ways to be yourself.

For more information about relational psychoanalytic therapy, or to set up an initial appointment, call us at 773-525-3322, ext. 42.

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