We continue our interviews with mental health professionals, who practice from a psychoanalytic perspective in their clinical work. Today, we speak to Carol Ganzer, a psychoanalyst with the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis, where she is on the faculty and serves as the president of the board of directors. She is a lecturer at the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, and faculty in their Professional Development Program’s Advanced Psychodynamic Fellowship in Clinical Practice.

1.Why Psychoanalysis? What drew you to psychoanalysis?

My first introduction to psychoanalysis was in adolescence when a friend gave me a biography of Freud.  My interests were further stimulated when I studied critical theory while completing a doctorate in English and reading Freud and Lacan as literary texts.  My own therapy also contributed to the desire to deepen my explorations into unconscious territory.  Later, in changing careers from being an academic to a clinician, I did so with the idea that I would train to practice psychoanalysis.

2. How would you describe the difference between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy?

Personally, I tend to see psychoanalysis and psychotherapy on a continuum, as much can be accomplished in once a week treatment. For me, the increased frequency, the use of the couch, and the focus on unconscious process, dreams, and fantasy are associated more frequently with psychoanalytic practice and deepening the treatment. Contemporary approaches often are conducted face-to-face with emphasis on the transferences of the analyst and the patient with unconscious process located in the space created by both parties.

3. What is it about psychoanalysis that you find most helpful in treating patients?

I find that the frequency of sessions initially allows for feelings of trust and safety to develop and, over time, creates a space for the analyst and patient to explore what previously had been censored, unsayable, and often dissociated for the patient. Also, the relationship between analyst and patient tends to foster therapeutic action, which ultimately leads to change.

4. In your opinion, who can benefit from psychoanalysis?

Initially, strict criteria existed as to whether someone was analyzable. I believe that anyone who makes the commitment to enter an analysis and engages in the process can benefit from it.

5. How do you explain psychoanalysis and what you do to your patients?

I say very little other than offer the use of the couch and the space to free associate. I also say that psychoanalysis is an experience, and it is different for each individual.

6. How would you advise a person, who is seeking professional help, decide on wanting psychoanalysis versus other forms of therapy?

I would make it clear that psychoanalysis requires an investment of time and money. I would also help the individual determine whether he wants to alleviate symptoms or change patterns of behavior that are often unconscious and rooted in one’s personality traits and history.

7. How does what you do as a psychoanalysis differ from what other mental health professionals do in therapy?    

I pay less attention to treating symptoms and focus on underlying issues, unconscious patterns, as they generally result from deeper problems in living.  I avoid using third-wave behavioral techniques to alleviable symptoms but rather try to work with the patient to discover the source of the symptoms.

8. Tell us about your own personal experience with psychoanalysis.

I have had several psychoanalytically-oriented treatments and one analysis at different times over the course of my life.  All of them helped me to examine myself, my history, and provided me with strategies to change aspects of my personality and functioning in relationships.

9. What else would you like to say to our readers about your psychoanalytic work?

Undergoing an analysis is just the first step in self-exploration.  Often change continues after one completes the analysis and continues to engage in the process of self-knowledge.

10.  In your opinion, who can benefit from psychoanalysis?

Again, it is essential to make the commitment to engage in the process without expectations.

 

About the interviewee:

Carol Ganzer is a psychoanalyst with the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis where she is on the faculty and president of the board of directors. She is a lecturer at the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, and faculty in their Professional Development Program’s Advanced Psychodynamic Fellowship in Clinical Practice. She is the managing editor of Clinical Social Work Journal and has served on its editorial board. She also serves on the faculty of the Institute for Clinical Social Work and has worked in the mental health field as a clinician and supervisor since 1996. She is a member of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Circle.  Previously, she served as President of the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and has presented and published articles on the application of psychoanalytic theory to practice with vulnerable populations and on issues of supervision and consultation. She maintains an independent practice of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and consultation in Chicago. You can see Carol’s Psychology Today profile and contact her here.