There are many myths floating around about psychoanalysis and you may be wondering what is true and what isn’t. Not everyone wants to immerse themselves into the psychoanalytic journey of deeper understanding of oneself or the dramatic change in behavior and the improved quality of life that often comes as a result of it. Some people need much more immediate and quick solutions such as medication to stabilize mood and alleviate anxiety or short-term and practical strategies to manage life as it is.
And yet, if you have tried other therapeutic approaches and are finally thinking about venturing into the realms of your unconscious and psychoanalysis, here are 10 questions you might already be asking yourself about it:
1. How do I know if I need psychoanalysis? Earlier I wrote a post about Is Psychoanalysis Right for You, but in general, psychoanalysis is a good option for folks, who have experienced some sort of trauma, who come from abusive or dysfunctional families; people, who have been diagnosed with personality disorders or struggle with severe anxiety and unhealthy or unstable relationships.
2. What’s the difference between a therapist and a psychoanalyst? A therapist is the common term for a mental health professional, who does psychotherapy – social workers, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists can all call themselves therapists. A psychoanalyst is also a mental health professional and can be either of the above, except that a psychoanalyst has complete a post-graduate training in psychoanalysis through a psychoanalytic institute or program in addition to their degree.
3. Can I send my children to a psychoanalyst? Yes, there are child psychoanalysts, who go through additional training and specialize in working with children and adolescents. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is also an option if you don’t want to do something as intensive as three or four times per week.
4. How do I find a psychoanalyst? The best way to find a psychoanalyst is to go through the psychoanalytic society, institute or organization in your region. You can also ask your primary care physician or psychiatrist for a referral.
5. How often will I have to see my analyst? Traditional psychoanalytic technique requires that you go three to four times a week to see your analyst, the presumption being that once you get your unconscious working, you don’t want to wait a full week until you get a chance to talk about it. However, there are psychoanalysts today, who would see you once or twice a week, depending on your individual needs and preferences.
6. How much does it cost? Psychoanalysis can cost as little as $10 or as much as $200 per session. Some psychoanalytic institutes offer a sliding scale fee for people, who cannot afford to pay full fee. Often, psychoanalytic candidates are able to see you for a lower fee, while competing their training requirements. Remember, just because they are called candidates or students doesn’t mean that they cannot help you, they are trained and licensed professionals.
7. How long does it take? There is no universal length that services all people but it often takes between one to two years for significant changes and long-term results to occur. Again, psychoanalysis is about deeper understanding of oneself and a radical change in behavior and lifestyle that can’t happen overnight.
8. Is it always about my mother? No, it is mostly about you. Still, mothers and fathers usually play a crucial role in shaping the foundations for human relationships so it is not unordinary for people to talk about that in psychoanalysis.
9. Is it okay to talk about sex? There is nothing you can’t talk about in psychoanalysis – from your dreams and fears to your sexual fantasies, wishes and frustrations. It is all OKAY.
10. What if I fall in love with my analyst? When people find themselves utterly understood and accepted by another human being, it is not unusual for them to develop strong feelings for that person. As long as you can talk about that with your analyst, there is nothing to worry about.
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