Do you know what a psychoanalyst does? Do you know that scene of a person lying on a couch talking to a professional sitting in a chair next to his head in movies and series? That’s how psychoanalysis sessions work, but few people know that. The first instinct when seeing this representation is to think of a psychologist.
As well as the psychologist and psychiatrist, this professional takes care of patients’ mental health. There is great confusion, however, regarding the role he played specifically.
When hearing the word ‘psychoanalysis’, many immediately think of Freud, but do not know what are the steps to follow this area professionally or its characteristics.
What is psychoanalysis?
The psychoanalysis was developed by Sigmund Freud in the nineteenth century. It was created
precisely because not all patients responded to the mental health treatment methods existing at the time.
The main concept is to unveil the unconscious, which Freud believed to control the individual. Therefore, manifestations of the content stored in the unconscious would be the causes of the problems that afflict people.
Many of Freud’s studies referred to childhood events . They would be responsible for our unusual attitudes. Other factors also influence our behavior, such as memories, repressed desires and impulses. As they remain in the unconscious, we are unable to fully understand them.
From there arises the suffering and the need to seek answers to self-know. It can be said that this method of therapy seeks to unravel the intrinsic mysteries of our being.
The psychoanalyst, then, has as main function to help us to overcome traumas , concerns, fears and emotional pains according to the analysis of the unconscious.
A psychologist, on the other hand, uses methods to help the patient break cycles of harmful behavior by building healthy habits. The work is done with much repetition and trial and error until the patient finds the best way to replace unfavorable habits with more useful ones.
Functions of the psychoanalyst
Although the analysis is similar to that made in psychology, in psychoanalysis the process is longer. The professional investigates the patient’s mind looking for possible memories and repressed feelings. A negative behavior pattern can be associated with a forgotten event, so it is necessary to find out what really happened.
Sessions are generally 50 minutes long, held for three to five days a week. During this time, the patient talks about his storms while the psychoanalyst takes note of patterns in his speech, non-verbal language, forgetfulness and topics that arouse discomfort.
Then, the professional asks a series of questions to encourage the patient to be aware of his feelings and understand actions commanded by the unconscious. Throughout the meetings, he develops self-perception, being able to perceive his mental processes more clearly.
Not only situations, but relationships also have a big impact on our perception of life and personality .
We can carry the aftermath of a harmful relationship from the past and thus sabotage our current relationships. This can involve parents, relatives, friends, teachers and diverse social dynamics, not just romantic partners.
At the end of the treatment, the patient must be able to deal with everyday events with more lightness and tranquility, knowing that the aspects that disturbed him are no longer obstacles in the present.
Why are meetings frequent?
To ensure that the professional delves into the patient’s unconscious, the meetings do not have much time between them. The connections between the patient’s conscious and unconscious mind, in this short period of separation, remain fresh for the next sessions. In addition, the patient can talk about more recent everyday events, allowing for more vigorous monitoring.
Why is there so much talk?
Psychoanalysis is known as “conversation therapy”. While the patient is lying down talking about various subjects, including random themes that have nothing to do with his problems, the unconscious manifests itself. There is a minimum distance from the present while the patient speaks. It is in this small gap that the content present in the unconscious manages to reach the surface without repression.
Therefore, the psychoanalyst spends most of his time listening carefully. He needs to capture all the details of the patient’s speech, including almost imperceptible ones. Only then does he interpret what has been said.
What are the approaches used in the sessions?
There are some specific techniques used during the meetings, which were created by Freud and perpetuated by other professionals in the field.
Free association is used for the patient to speak the first thing that comes to mind. The professional reads a list of random words and the patient responds with a word that he believes to be a match. In this way, it is possible to access repressed memories.
The interpretation of dreams is made to identify unconscious thoughts. As the content of dreams is often difficult to interpret, the psychoanalyst seeks to find symbols and patterns that make sense in the midst of the surreal.
Another practice is transference. In this case, the patient transfers the feelings he had for someone from the past to another person in the present. It can even be done between the patient and the psychoanalysis professional. It is up to him to identify the characteristics of this process and break the link between memory and the present.
Finally, the psychoanalyst uses the technique of interpretation. Through it, he can identify important pieces of information that the patient misses during the session when talking about random subjects. The choice of words and phrase is then analyzed to discover which feelings are linked to them.
For example, the patient may refer to work as “hell” instead of “bad”, revealing a deep negative feeling related to the professional environment.
What can the psychoanalyst treat?
There are several mental disorders and patient complaints regarding mental health that can be treated through psychoanalysis, such as:
- Depression ;
- Anxiety ;
- Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome;
- Anxiety crises;
- Panic attacks ;
- Eating disorders;
- Dissatisfaction with life;
- Low self esteem;
- Relationship problems (or relationships in general);
- Sexual problems;
- Self-destructive behaviors;
- Insomnia ;
- Suicidal thoughts;
In other words, the problems are the same as those treated by the psychologist and the psychiatrist. The difference lies in the approach used.
What is the formation of the psychoanalyst?
It is possible to become a professional by completing a training at a recognized institution. As there are several lines of psychoanalysis, there are several institutions. Courses generally last five years.
During the study period, the theoretical concepts of Freud and psychoanalysts who continued their work are studied, developing other aspects.
Analyzing is also part of the learning process to understand how the relationship between professional and patient is developed. Finally, it is time for the internship supervised by more experienced psychoanalysts.
The requirement to start the course is training in the humanities, such as psychology , history, letters, sociology, anthropology, among others. The most recommended, however, is to get a degree in psychology or medicine.
The Brazilian Psychoanalysis Society of São Paulo, for example, requires graduation from these courses to start the course. People with other degrees must go through a Regional Council process to determine whether they can take the course or not. There are also institutions that do not require a degree, however, they are not recommended.
When to look for a psychoanalyst?
People who seek to understand their own motivations and behaviors at a deeper level often prefer this method of therapy. For example, anyone who seeks to understand the root of their dilemmas and not just their daily manifestations is a good candidate for psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis can help, especially, patients who have undergone traumatic experiences and wish to move away from the event through the reframing of memories and emotions.
Psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, psychiatry …
When the approach of psychotherapy or psychiatry is not to your liking, psychoanalysis is likely to satisfy the patient’s needs.
First of all, one must be aware that unpleasant and painful memories can surface, causing great suffering. Perhaps even the family “secrets” not noticed by the patient as a child, such as cases of violence or addiction in the family , can resurface and damage the relationship with family members.
Therefore, you must think hard about your reasons for seeking psychoanalysis before starting treatment. To clear up your doubts, make an appointment to get to know psychoanalysis.
Like any aspect of life, there are pros and accounts and it is up to you to decide which method of therapy can help you to know yourself, treat mental disorders, overcome trauma and overcome fear.
Platforms like Vittude can facilitate the search for a psychologist who meets specific requirements to meet everyone who needs follow-up. Access our website and check for yourself all the opportunities offered!
Although psychoanalysis is one of the many aspects of psychotherapy, Vittude works only with psychologists.
There are dozens of approaches and methods of treatment developed especially to treat certain mental disorders or discontent, such as lack of self-esteem or productivity. Psychological counseling is tailored to a specific problem.
To learn more about this area, access this link and meet our psychologists. If you have not identified yourself with the characteristics of psychoanalysis present in this article, try to try other psychotherapies!