Personal psychotherapy or psychoanalysis is a discipline that’s been practiced for over a century by therapists following in the shadow of the discipline’s forefather, Sigmund Freud, who developed it around his theory that unconscious motives and unresolved conflicts lead to flawed development as well as emotional and behavioral problems. Commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” the practice has evolved over the years as some of Freud’s ideas have gone out of fashion, but ultimately it still remains true to his general attempts to uncover the subconscious desires that he believed to be responsible for depressive and neurotic states. Most practitioners still draw heavily from his theories involving the significance of dreams, the influence of sexual repression and abuse on development, and the many unconscious motives that drive our actions.
Psychotherapy’s ultimate goal is to provide clients with relief from emotional pain while helping them to move beyond perceived personal roadblocks, many of which developed early in their lives and continue to hinder their healthy enjoyment of life. In the practice, therapists act as guides who offer emotional support, facilitate clients’ ability to better identify and express their concerns, and help them to understand underlying impulses. A client will ideally learn to adapt more effectively to his life with a therapist’s help.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a the most common form of this verbally-based treatment model, which is built around a personal and professional relationship between therapist and client. Comfort with one’s therapist is absolutely essential as insecurity and reluctance to communicate will ultimately compromise efficiency. The shared relationship develops in a controlled setting on a regularly scheduled basis, typically taking place in the form of 45-60 minute appointments. Psychotherapy practice is distinguished from psychiatry by the psychotherapist’s inability to prescribe medications to clients, though medicines and particularly the conditions for which they’re prescribed may be discussed extensively during therapy. Moreover, a psychiatrist, who has earned a medical degree as opposed to a Ph.D. or clinical therapy license, may perform psychotherapy as part of her practice. Many individuals and their therapists maintain long-term associations that will develop and expand over time as the two parties work toward an eventual reduction of, or solution to, various emotional problems and insecurities.
Two frequently overlapping concerns provide the basis for most initial visits to a psychotherapist: unresolved issues or traumas developed in a client’s early life, or seemingly unrelated conflicts perceived to be disabling the progress of one’s current life. Personal issues are often far more complex, but spring from some combination of these complimentary variables. Most important is the inevitable relationship between past and present issues. Clients often discover that they are their own worst enemies, making them victim to unconscious desires that form in reaction to negative experience and lead directly to the very symptoms that trouble them.
Multiple treatment variations exist within the psychoanalysis rubric. Personal therapy can be conducted under the same guiding principles in a group-oriented setting. Therapy for families or couples experiencing marital problems is common, and in some areas of American society this form of therapy is more socially acceptable than individual psychotherapy. Meetings of recovery groups such as those including former drug addicts or victims of sexual abuse often run on the same therapeutic model. Short-term therapy courses also exist for the more narrowly focussed treatment of specific conditions.