Psychoanalysis is a way of listening, a way of living, a philosophy and an art form; a theory about the human condition and a clinical practice. It is an experience of being listened to, accepted, heard and validated; an experience of being “alone in the presence of another,” yet feeling utterly connected. Psychoanalysis is a form of clinical practice that allows for an understanding of oneself, ones thoughts, feelings and behaviors and an awareness of who we truly are as human beings.
Many people still harbor the misunderstanding that psychoanalysis pathologises the individual and puts people into pre-determined categories that feel judgmental, invalidating and diminishing. In truth, psychoanalysis emphasizes the uniqueness of everyone’s experience and seeks to create meaning, specific to each person’s unconscious and history. Oftentimes in psychoanalysis, we have to sit with the unknown, the anxiety-provoking and the uncomfortable.
Psychoanalysis and the unconscious
Psychoanalysis is a practice of profound respect for the human condition that comes from a place of empathy, acceptance and personal experience with anguish and pain. As psychoanalytic clinicians, we all have our own psychoanalytic experience to refer to. We listen to our own reactions when sitting with clients and use our knowledge of the workings of the unconscious to guide them into understanding their own. We work with dreams, fantasies, play, art, memories, feelings, thoughts, actions and body symptoms, all of which are ways of communicating that, which cannot be otherwise spoken about.
Psychoanalysis and the couch
We still use the couch but not just for laying. Many psychoanalytically oriented clinicians, including myself, see clients once a week sitting up. We see children, adolescents, adults, couples, sometimes moms and babies and even families. There is such thing as psychoanalysis off the couch. We consult in schools and non-for-profit organizations; we work in residential treatment centers, provide supervision, milieu therapy, and discuss movies, art and social issues all from a psychoanalytic point of view.
Unveiling the mystery of psychoanalysis
If some of this sounds mysterious, that is because it can be. What I am hoping to do in this blog is to unveil some of the mysteries of psychoanalysis for you. Together, we will look at practical psychoanalysis, the way I experience it in my daily life and therapeutic practice. We will look at modern issues, culture, movies, people and common mental health issues affecting you and your family. We will see how to apply psychoanalytic thought to children’s behavioral and emotional development and how to address practical parenting questions from a psychoanalytic perspective.
To learn more about practical psychoanalysis, click here.
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