There currently exist many branches of psychotherapy, but all stem from four major schools: psychoanalytic, humanistic, systemic and cognitive-behavioural.
Their shared goal, broadly speaking, is to relieve the patient's suffering, but their means to achieve it are different. Here we will describe psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Given that this kind of psychotherapy stems from the same theoretical and clinical roots as Psychoanalysis, it is useful to be informed about its fundaments.
Characteristics of Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy
The specific goal of psychoanalytic psychotherapy is to discover what aspects of the patient's unconscious are generating emotional suffering and, through understanding them deeply, allowing her to free herself from them.
Treatment usually takes place once or twice a week for some years; the patient is seated, can see the psychotherapist and is invited to speak as spontaneously as possible.
The psychotherapist will listen attentively and will point out material that he considers useful for the patient in the form of hypotheses that they will be able to consider together. This setting (low frequency of sessions and working face to face) favours a kind of work that emphasizes the emotional understanding of real events and relationships in the patient's life.
This emotional understanding implies consciously experiencing the emotions that underlie the patient's difficulties, extracting the implicit information in these emotions, and reassessing patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. This process leads to some difficulties dissolving completely, others not dissolving but being modified, and others neither dissolving nor being modified but by knowing them deeply the patient can chose more beneficial solutions for her or his life.
The therapeutic indication of psychoanalytical psychotherapy will be carefully assessed by the psychotherapist during the preliminary interviews between the patient and the analyst in function of a series of variables pertaining to the patient and what the analyst considers the minimum needs in order to undertake a beneficial treatment for the patient are.