Common questions about Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

What is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is a process that helps individuals become more aware of themselves, their relationships and their ‘inner world’. It is a journey where both patient and therapist work together to understand and resolve conflicts and work through painful experiences both in the past and in the present. Psychotherapy works towards bringing to consciousness what may be hidden in regards to how a person feels about him/herself and how he/she relates to others.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy promotes self-awareness, emotional and personality development. It is different from other therapies in the sense that it looks further and deeper in order to understand what may be related to the issues and problems of the present, aiming to bring about deep and lasting change.

What does Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy involve?

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy involves meeting once or sometimes more times a week for 50 minutes sessions. Psychotherapy is a talking therapy, so in the confidential and non-judgmental space of your session you will be encouraged to talk as freely as you can about what goes on in your mind. As a psychotherapist I will help you organize your thoughts and feelings, at times pointing out to what may be hidden or repressed from your conscious mind.

You may find it uncomfortable at first to open up to someone you just met, but as a therapist I am trained and experienced to listen to what you are communicating without prejudice or judgement. And by having the freedom to tell me whatever you feel like, you can establish your own pace, so in the psychotherapeutic process any awareness and insights achieved will have come from within yourself, and so the results are yours to keep.

Is talking really going to help?

The truth is that talking does help, and it helps a lot. It can be quite relieving to freely express most inner feelings to someone who is neutral and non-judgmental. Talking is in itself therapeutic, because as you tell something to the psychotherapist you will be helped to revisit and elaborate some areas you might feel stuck in. It will help you carefully think about your experiences.

But a psychotherapy session is not just a normal conversation, like you would have with a friend or a partner. A psychotherapist is trained to listen to what the person communicates in a deeper and more unconscious level. So as you speak I will help you gain new perspectives by pointing to blind spots or repressed feelings you might have in your relationships and experiences.

What kind of problems can Psychotherapy help?

Psychotherapy can help with a wide range of problems, from more specific and current issues such as bereavement, stress, relationship difficulties or work related issues, to more deep seated and complex problems such as eating disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety or personality disorders.

In the consultation stage (first 2 to 4 sessions) I will help you think whether the issues you want help with can be worked through in psychotherapy, or if you would need a more specific approach or perhaps the involvement of other professionals (i.e psychiatrist, GP) in your care.

What happens when I contact you?

When you first call or e-mail me you will have the opportunity to tell me a bit about what it is you want help with. If you wish we could then arrange an initial face-to-face consultation in my consulting room in the City of London (EC1 area).

We would initially be meeting at least twice and up to 4 times before we can decide whether psychotherapy is the best option to help you. This is a mutual decision that takes into consideration many different elements, but mainly in the consultation we would be thinking about whether we can work together in psychotherapy in order to help you with your difficulties.

What is a consultation for Psychotherapy?

The consultation is also known as assessment for psychotherapy. It is the first 2 to 4 sessions, where we would meet in order to explore in detail what you are looking for, your difficulties and what they may be related to, both in the past and in the present. The consultation is also an opportunity for us see how we feel working together. It is important to develop a connection and that you feel comfortable enough to open up to me as a therapist.

A consultation is also a ‘taster’ of how psychotherapy feels like. In this stage I will share some of my thoughts and interpretations with you, and so you will have the opportunity to experience a bit of the thinking process that takes place in psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

In the consultation we will also discuss whether the help I can offer is enough to contain and support you in your difficulties.

Read more about consultation for psychotherapy

What if I’m not sure psychotherapy is the right treatment for me?

A consultation should help you decide whether psychoanalytic psychotherapy is the right option for you.

What is a typical psychotherapy session like?

It is difficult to generalize and describe a typical session, because every patient is unique and so is each experience of therapy. But normally in the beginning of a session the person has the freedom to start talking about anything he/she has in mind. I will share my thoughts when appropriate to point out to what in my interpretation might be something significant in relation to what the patient is communicating.

Quite often a person’s experiences or relationship dynamics will be inadvertently repeated and subtly re-enacted with the therapist in the session. For example, a patient might feel that the psychotherapist is acting or speaking very much like their father, which brings out specific feelings or reactions. This is often unconscious, but it is nonetheless an important opportunity to understand something that is happening in the here-and-now of the session, and at the same time related to what may be deeply rooted in the mind. So if patient and therapist are able to understand it and work through, it may help to deal with similar situations or feelings in other contexts.

During the sessions I will help the person establish links that relate feelings and thoughts to experiences (past or present), so they can realise what may be hidden underneath the words, and so find new perspectives and meanings in life.

As the sessions progress, the psychotherapy process will help the person become more integrated, thoughtful and less defensive. It will provide tools that will allow a person to be resilient when situations or painful experiences come up in life.

How long is each psychotherapy session?

Each session is 50 minutes long.

What if I’m contacting you to arrange therapy for someone else?

You may be worried about a loved one and wanting to arrange help for them. As a general rule psychotherapy works best when the potential patient is willing and actively involved in the process of seeking help. However, if this is your case do contact me so we can discuss the situation.

Do you work under any ethical code?

As an accredited psychotherapist in London I abide by the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) Ethical Guidelines.

Do I need a referral from my GP?

No, you can just contact me directly.