What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy involves regular reflective conversations – usually weekly and where helpful more frequently. You are supported in speaking about what is immediately troubling you as well as other experiences that emerge. We will work together to understand and to help you move forward with these issues.  Therapy can range from a small number of sessions to look at a particular issue to more intensive work over a much longer period.

We think it can be important to invest time in yourself in order to help you think about what may underlie the problems you are having in the present.  Developing a better understanding of the ‘roots’ of your current emotional and relationship difficulties can help you to cope better and to move on. This will often involve putting the past back in the past so that it no longer determines present day life.

As psychoanalytic psychotherapists, we see relationships as being at the heart of things and an understanding of what is happening in the relationship between you and your therapist can be particularly important to the work.  When therapy works well you will begin to get on better with yourself and with others, be more comfortable with your feelings and begin to manage better the inevitable tensions and difficulties life brings.


Who is psychotherapy for?

People seek therapy for a variety of reasons. It may be that you feel particularly stressed, confused or in conflict, or aware that you have difficulties that go back many years.  You may be suffering from symptoms of depression or anxiety or struggling with a sense of unhappiness and emptiness that is more difficult to define – a sense that something’s missing or just not right.

Or you may be in a crisis – feeling panic, at the end of your tether and maybe even suicidal.  Some people need to talk about a bereavement or physical illness or feel traumatized by a particular event or experience.  Others are struggling to come to terms with long-standing experiences of abuse. You may have become aware that you are stuck repeating unhelpful patterns of behaviour such as self-denial, binge-eating, alcohol or drug misuse, self-harm or self-destructive relationships.  You may suffer from physical symptoms with no obvious cause and wonder if there might be a psychological explanation.

Working in the NHS has given us the experience of providing psychotherapeutic help to a broad cross-section of people with all sorts of different problems and levels of risk. We believe that psychotherapy can be helpful to a wide range of people from different genders, sexual orientations and social and cultural backgrounds,.

In general it is for people who have not had the opportunity to really think about their experience and who believe that talking in a safe and supportive setting will be helpful.


How long will it take?

Psychotherapy and counselling can either involve a few sessions or more intensive work over months or years. Short-term therapy focuses on particular problems and issues. Longer-term work will enable you to think more fully about yourself and your experience. It can be difficult to tell a therapist that you do wish to stop coming, or that you wish to continue. However, one of the main purposes of psychoanalytic psychotherapy is to help you gain confidence in your own mind – your feelings and your ideas – and so you are encouraged always to say what you think.


What happens in the initial consultation?

The first meeting is a chance for you to talk about what you are finding difficult and to tell us about your background. What brought you to the point of seeking therapy will be an important issue. This first session also gives you the opportunity to ask questions, to begin to talk over any worries you may have about therapy and to think about the choices that are available.

We see this first meeting as important. Psychotherapy is a joint venture between you and your therapist and gives you a chance to assess whether you will be comfortable in working with your chosen therapist.

This consultation will hopefully result in a mutual agreement about how best to proceed. This will include things like how frequently we will meet and arrangements such as appointment times, fees and cancellations, whether to fix in advance the number of sessions or agree to a more open-ended arrangement that can be reviewed as we go along.

This consultation is designed to see whether or not psychoanalytic psychotherapy will benefit you and may extend over more than one meeting. If we think that you would do better with a different therapist or a different form of help we will advise you about this.  We can refer to each other or, being well networked with other services – both NHS and private – we can discuss other options with you.