Counselling is generally seen as shorter term and focuses on addressing problems that are obvious and recent in origin, problems such as immediate difficulties, recent events that cause stress or anxiety. The counsellor helps the person to explore and overcome difficult situations or feelings in order to find a path to a more contented life.
Psychotherapy is a more in-depth approach that is appropriate for longer-term problems and difficulties that are repetitive in nature. In psychotherapy, the focus is both on addressing immediate difficulties , but also on uncovering background issues that tend to lead the person to persistently encounter problems in their life. Here are some of the ongoing difficulties which are best addressed through psychotherapy.
It is rarely possible to predict in advance how quickly the problems one meets with in life can be resolved. This is the case with any approach taken to difficulties that one may face in life, whether the approach is medical or psychological. Difficulties are many and varied and always unique to the individual.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis is a therapeutic process which helps patients understand and resolve their problems by increasing awareness of their inner world and its influence over relationships both past and present. It differs from most other therapies in aiming for deep seated change in personality and emotional development.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy aims to help people with psychological difficulties to understand and change complex, deep-seated and often unconsciously based emotional and relationship problems thereby reducing symptoms and alleviating distress. However, its role is not limited only to those with mental health problems.
Many people who experience a loss of meaning in their lives or who are seeking a greater sense of fulfilment may be helped by psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
Sometimes people seek help for specific reasons such as eating disorders, psycho-somatic conditions, obsessional behaviour, or phobic anxieties. At other times help is sought because of more general underlying feelings of depression or anxiety, difficulties in concentrating, dissatisfaction in work or inability to form satisfactory relationships. It may benefit adults, children, and adolescents. It can also help children who have emotional and behavioural difficulties which are evident at home or school. These can include personality problems, depression, learning difficulties, school phobias, eating or sleeping disorders.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy provides an effective treatment for a range of psychological disorders, both as a treatment in its own right and as an adjunct to other forms of treatment. It can contribute significantly to a person’s mental and physical health, to their sense of well-being and to their ability to manage their lives more effectively.
Whether psychoanalytic psychotherapy is the treatment of choice for a particular individual depends on a variety of factors. It is often helpful to have one or more preliminary consultations with an experienced psychotherapist before deciding whether psychoanalytic psychotherapy is an appropriate treatment for the person concerned. Occasionally, the treatment might be of short duration but generally speaking psychoanalytic psychotherapy is best considered as a longer-term treatment involving considerable commitment for both patient and therapist.
The relationship with the therapist is a crucial element in the therapy. The therapist offers a confidential and private setting which facilitates a process where unconscious patterns of the patient’s inner world become reflected in the patient’s relationship with the therapist (transference). This process helps patients gradually to identify these patterns and, in becoming conscious of them, to develop the capacity to understand and change them.
Psychoanalytic theory and practice emerged from the techniques developed by the neurologist and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud in Vienna in the late 19th century.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is suitable for anyone. It can provide great support or relief in times of crisis, bereavement or change. It is a therapeutic approach which gives insight into our inner motivations and the repetitive patterns we follow throughout our lives, thus assisting us to become aware of these patterns and implement change over time.
Psychoanalysis in non-directive. It facilitates the client to observe the repetitive elements of their lives, the unconscious patterns, and the limitations they have carried with them from childhood. The process is analogous to unravelling a knot, allowing an individual the space and freedom to feel and think more freely and make new and helpful decisions.