Psychoanalysis, an intensive form of individual psychotherapy, typically consists of three or four individual sessions per week, often with the patient lying prone on a couch. It is, essentially, an extremely concentrated form of psychotherapy. As noted in the professional background section, I completed full psychoanalytic training at the New Center for Psychoanalysis in West Los Angeles during 1996. I prefer to use the phrase “transformational encounters” to describe the service provided by psychoanalysts such as myself.
Psychoanalysis focuses on subjective human experience. It values the idiopathic over the nomothetic. Psychoanalysts attentively listen to what is being revealed in the unique human experience of each individual who consults them. Regardless of the type of mental pain involved, and whatever the symptomotology and its underlying causes, their efforts to help are centered in a conjoint venture to understand the individual’s world. At the same time, psychoanalysts emphasize the transference-countertransference configuration, considering this the process by which the inner dramatic world of the patient is most effectively brought to light and transformed.
Psychoanalysis, then, works by inviting the patient’s internal drama into an affect-laden, here-and-now treatment process in such a way that the unconscious themes become mapped onto the analytic relationship.
In terms of technique, I believe the two most important curative factors in psychoanalysis are the interpersonal therapeutic relationship and interpretations. I believe that psychoanalysts must be “fluent in many different languages.” Toward that end, I have enjoyed direct supervision from such contemporary object relational theorists as Christopher Bollas, Althea Horner, and James Grotstein. I also borrow liberally from Freud, Klein, Lacan, Winnicott, Mitchell, Arons, Stolorow, and many others. Human subjectivity emerges from complex and dynamic biopsychosocial contexts. I strive to engage my patients with humility and to apply psychoanalytic theory in consonance with their changing worlds. Reductionism and rigid adherence to theory is to be strenuously avoided.
Ideally, the analytic process facilitates resolution of developmental delays and reactions to trauma, it enhances the processing of ambivalence, guilt, mourning and loss, and it eases problems with adaptation. It alters and transforms underlying, problematic internal object relations. Successful analysis leaves clients with a keen awareness of their internal dramas and of how images of self and other are shaped. They will have learned to “take back their projections,” resulting in a more authentic sense of self and other. Integrating emotions and impulses long-repressed or denied, they should experience confidence in their identity, greater intimacy with differentiated others, and the ability to temper but still enjoy illusion.