Psychoanalytic Therapy


Psychoanalytic Therapy: An Overview

Psychoanalytic Therapy is a psychological treatment modality wherein the therapist touches on the unconscious mind of the patient through conversation in order to give light to the causes of the patient’s behavior, symptoms, or character; and by which, through the patient’s accounts, the therapist formulates a solution. This form of therapy digs into the past of the patient in order to rationalize his/her current or present behaviors.


The main proponent of Psychoanalytic Therapy is Sigmund Freud, one of the most prominent names in the field of psychology. Freud began to develop this idea during the 1800s. Through his continued association with Jean-Martin Charcot and Josef Breuer, he was able to get inspiration and concepts from the treatment of choice of these two, which gave birth to his own concept of psychoanalysis. Between the two aforementioned names, Josef Breuer contributed most to Freud’s therapy. Breuer had a patient (known in history as Anna O.), whom he has healed from symptoms of hysteria through encouraging her to talk about her traumatic experiences. Afterwhich, both Freud and Breuer furnished a book entitled, “Studies on Hysteria.”

How Psychoanalytic Therapy Works

How Psychoanalytic Therapy works can be summarized into one simple word – TALK. Psychoanalytic therapists use conversation or talking to the patient as the primary means of letting the patient express his/her thoughts, feelings, repressed emotions, and even obsessions. Hence, this method is termed as “talk therapy.”

During the course of the conversation, the therapist observes for patterns or significant events that may have contributed to the patient’s unfavorable behaviors or life difficulties. Psychoanalysts strongly believe that one’s history, especially childhood events; do greatly influence a person’s personality and behavior.

After determining these past events which may have led to the patient’s behavior, the therapist then makes use of the data he/she has collected to formulate appropriate interventions to correct the behavioral problems of the patient. Other thak talking, the therapist may also use free associations, role-play, and dream interpretation as alternative means.


Many critics do not believe on the effectiveness of Psychoanalytic Therapy, claiming that the method is too time-consuming and expensive on the part of the patient, while the results are vague and difficult to achieve.

On the other hand, others claim that the therapy offers various benefits to the patient such as: giving the patient a channel to express his/her thoughts, feelings, desires, and even sinister ideals and sexual issues to someone else in the foundation of trust (i.e. between the therapist and patient), offering a nonjudgmental atmosphere for the patient to just be him/herself; providing solace to the patient if he/she is distressed in the person of the therapist, and most importantly – giving the patient a place where he/she can figuratively unmask him/herself.

However, even in the presence of these identified benefits, some people are still discouraged to have this therapy, most probably because the cost is also too high. The therapy may go on for years, and aside from that, the patient may become impatient eventually.

There are many studies conducted nowadays that are determined to undermine the popularity of Psychoanalytic Therapy among the affected community. Studies such as those of Noam Chomsky and Karl Popper say that this method has insufficient scientific bases.

On the other hand, even if there are many disputes about the effectiveness of Psychoanalytic Therapy, for those people who are in distress and who are in dire need of someone to talk to – this treatment modality is still one of the best options that one has. Besides, therapeutic results actually do differ from one person to another.