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Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Why do people seek psychoanalytic psychotherapy?

There are many reasons why people seek longer term psychotherapy including:

  • pervasive feelings of unhappiness
  • difficulty feeling any interest or motivation
  • feeling trapped, stuck, or held back from reaching their natural potential
  • physical symptoms which seem at least partly related to anxiety or emotional distress
  • shyness, nervousness or lack of confidence
  • feeling alone and empty much of the time
  • difficulty beginning or maintaining relationships

For many people who seek psychoanalytic psychotherapy, their difficulties have been longstanding, and nothing they’ve previously tried has provided lasting relief.

What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is regular, longer term therapy during which patient and therapist focus on thinking together about the patient’s difficulties. Because psychoanalytic psychotherapy recognises the uniqueness of every person - patients as well as therapists - there is an initial phase when therapist and patient spend time deciding whether they can work together in an open and collaborative way. If this is the case, therapy moves into a phase involving patient and therapist
working together to understand the patient’s difficulties and identify new options, both within the person, and in his or her external situation.

What do people get out of psychoanalytic therapy?

A deeper understanding of oneself often leads to greater freedom and increased flexibility. Feeling that another person is interested in listening and trying to understand one’s painful emotional experiences can provide a sense of relief and free a person to conceive of different and more constructive ways of behaving. In this way psychoanalytic psychotherapy helps to free a person from constricting and inflexible ways of viewing themselves and others. This fosters the replacement of previously entrenched and destructive patterns of behaviour with more constructive ways of being. Many people have also had disappointing and difficult experiences in their lives that have led to fears of closeness and of relying on others. Psychoanalytic psychotherapists are trained to help people grow through experiencing their vulnerable and depending feelings, so that they are more able to depend on others when in need, and also able to allow others to depend on them from time to time. This fosters the ability to begin and maintain healthy intimate relationships.

What do psychoanalytic psychotherapists do?

Psychoanalytic psychotherapists aim to help patients understand the complex interplay of inner and external factors that may be contributing to their difficulties. To do this they use their capacity for empathy, their own past experiences and extensive training. They also use a particular way of thinking about the relationship between patient and therapist as it unfolds in therapy. This can shed light on aspects of the patient’s current difficulties that may not have been apparent before.

How long does psychoanalytic psychotherapy take?

Because every person is unique, every therapy is too, so it’s not usually possible to precisely predict the time needed, especially at the start of therapy. Instead, frequency, duration and ending of therapy are negotiated between the patient and therapist as the nature of the patient’s difficulties becomes clearer to both of them.


The following therapists at VCPS provide psychoanalytic psychotherapy:

Dr Adam Becker

Dr Judy Dunai

Ms Rosemary Grahame

Dr Philip Walsh