Is Psychoanalysis Right for Me?
Psychoanalysis is for those who want it, need it, and can take it.
Posted Feb 07, 2014
If you google, “Is psychoanalysis right for me?” you will be linked to websites with pretty solid answers to the question. The Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis has some good information, adapted from a more comprehensive facts page available on the website of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Those are good places to start.
To delve into the question further, I look to psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott’s wisdom. He wrote,“by and large, analysis is for those who want it, need it, and can take it.” For me, that’s as good a starting point as any.
Psychoanalysis is for those who want it.
The experience of psychoanalysis is suited to some but not to everyone’s unique personality. It is a particularly good fit for those who want to develop a deeper understanding of themselves—for those who want to know how the pieces of their story fit together, the past and the present as well as their interior and exterior lives.
Psychoanalysis might be the right approach for you if you want to make sense of your experiences, if you are curious about how your mind works, and if you want to deal with your problems at their root. It could be right for you if you want relief in the short-term, yes, but also if you want to make changes that last—and you know the difference between the two.
Simply put, psychoanalysis is a treatment for those who are suffering and in emotional pain. It offers a unique kind of help for those who have been trying to cope with their difficulties but have found that they can’t do it on their own and have had limited success with other treatment approaches.
Psychoanalysis could be right for you if you take your need for help very seriously, especially if you have psychological difficulties that are longstanding: chronic or recurring depression, anxiety, anger, relationship difficulties, or low self-esteem. Psychoanalysis can get beneath the surface to the core dynamics that might be leading you to feel lost in life, trapped in vicious cycles, or unable engage in your life in a constructive way.
Psychoanalysis is for those who can take it.
Psychoanalysis isn’t easy. No matter how much someone may want and need an analysis, they have to be able to take it. Not only do they need to have time and financial resources available, they have to be able to withstand the heat, to manage the intensity of thorough self-examination as well as feedback from the analyst. They must be able to face painful and undesirable feelings, thoughts, and impulses. They must be willing and able to travel the long, two-steps-forward-one-step-back journey of getting better.
If, after reading this post, you think psychoanalysis is something that you might want, need, and be able to take then I encourage you to look into it further. Do some research to find an analyst who has been trained at your local psychoanalytic institute. If you don’t have a referral from someone you know, FindAnAnalyst.org is a great online resource. Once you have identified a potential analyst, make a call and set up an initial consultation. Let the analyst get to know you and then advise you about whether or not they think that psychoanalysis might be right for you. If not, they will refer you to someone working with a different approach who might be better suited for you and your unique needs. If they think psychoanalysis might be right for you, then I encourage you to take a deep breath and give it a try.
Copyright 2014 Jennifer Kunst, Ph.D.
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Check out earlier blog posts in this series: