Rather like a tractor that’s stuck in the mud and needs another tractor to help pull it out, there are times when most of us would benefit from the presence of another person to help us get unstuck from problems that are constraining our lives and are linked to our inner, emotional worlds.

Sometimes talking things over with friends will do the trick.  Sometimes it might take the help of a professional to get things moving.   Psychoanalytic psychotherapy (more or less the same as psychodynamic psychotherapy) aims to help you get unstuck from what might be hindering you and making you unhappy.

Psychotherapy is about talking, either with a therapist or with a therapist plus members of a therapy group, about the things that are troubling you and their causes, in a safe, confidential, understanding, respectful and non-judgemental environment.   You need to be assured of that because approaching a psychotherapist is frequently accompanied by considerable nervousness and vulnerability.

Analytic psychotherapy isn’t the same as psychiatry which often prescribes medication.  And it’s not the same as counselling or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).  Please see the separate sections on these for the differences.

How does psychotherapy operate?

Psychotherapy goes deep beneath the surface of difficulties into their origins. It works particularly with the unconscious mind.

Imagine the human mind as an iceberg. Some of it is above the waterline – the conscious ‘everyday’ mind – but a lot of it is hidden below the waterline – the unconscious mind. We may bury painful feelings and experiences or unacceptable parts of ourselves and our early relationships in our unconscious, beyond easy access. But out of sight isn’t out of mind. What’s buried may still exert a negative influence on our behaviour, our mood, our self-esteem, our health, our current relationships and our work. A girl with an aggressive father, for example, may grow up to be a woman who curiously keeps finding herself in relationships with abusive men. Part of the task of therapy is to bring what’s buried into the light of day and, in so doing, to release its grip.

The Importance Of A Therapeutic Relationship

Distinguished psychotherapist, Dennis Brown, once called analytic therapy ‘the use of personal relationships to help people in trouble’. A key part of it is the relationship with the therapist or the other members of a therapy group. As trust develops, it may be possible to explore, through talking, a person’s traditional ways of feeling, behaving and seeing others as they get enacted in the current therapeutic situation and then to modify them. It’s a ‘communicating cure’.

Does psychotherapy work?

As with any form of therapy, there can be no guarantee of success but the goal of analytic psychotherapy is deep and long-lasting change. There’s also increasing evidence from the latest scientific research that this positive change exists and is actually physically visible in the brain. The pioneering researcher and author, Dr Allen Schore, has done an extensive review of contemporary studies relating to neuroscience and psychotherapy. If you’ll excuse some jargon, he writes in his book, ‘The Science of the Art of Psychotherapy’: ‘Recent research in brain imaging, molecular biology and neurogenetics has shown that psychotherapy changes brain function and structure. Such studies have shown that psychotherapy affects regional cerebral blood flow, neurotransmitter metabolism, gene expression and persistent modifications in synaptic plasticity’. In other words, there’s hope!

How long does psychotherapy take?

Analytic therapy isn’t a quick fix. If you consider the years that it may take for problems to become deeply embedded in someone, you’ll see why identifying those processes and working through them will take some time. It’s impossible to be specific because every person is different, but it’s not uncommon for people to work in therapy for a year or more depending on the issues being explored. You may see some signs of improvement, however, after several months.

It’s important to keep in mind that for psychotherapy to be effective, it’s essential for sessions to take place at regular, fixed, weekly intervals.

How much does psychotherapy cost?

My fee for individual analytic psychotherapy is £55 for weekly fifty-minute sessions.

My fee for group analytic psychotherapy is £160 per calendar month for weekly hour-and-a-half sessions.

My fee for hour-and-a-half assessment sessions is £65.