“Understanding the nature of [your] mental world cannot be done alone; it requires seeing the self in the eye of another person.”

Peter Fonagy — Playing with Reality

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy relies on traditional wisdom that the past matters and that talking can make people feel better, surprisingly even when, for good reasons, they resist it. There is a wish to talk and a hunger for a good listener. There is a desire to make time for doing those things and for something good to come of them. Depending on how it was in your family, you may be comfortable talking about your troubles, or alternatively be more prone to have that “walking on eggs” apprehensiveness around touchy topics or some mistrust of your own thoughts and feelings. In either case, if you have found the courage to talk with a family member or someone in your church, a friend, or have read the self-help books without finding relief from what is troubling you, some other kind of talking might help when you are working out how to live and who you can be.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is based on the belief that there is more going on in our minds than we are aware of. Consequently, our relationships can be complicated by the unconscious meanings of those yearnings, dreams, anxieties and past experiences that accompany us through life, disconnected from our awareness. They account for why we can be troubled but not know what is the matter. They also trap us in feeling it is too risky to change, given the way the world is; it is safer to get out of relationships than into them. Treatment works through the gradual process of discovering connections between current behaviour and its historical origins, growing emotional awareness, and tolerating unknowing with the therapist. Gradually, you may come to experience the world differently and reduce the confusion between what helps and habits of feeling and not feeling, thinking and not thinking which maintain suffering.

You cannot learn much about yourself using medications alone or by living as a solitary planet. Psychoanalytically oriented therapy focuses on the emotional experience you have with your analyst and gives you an emotional experience in the present that changes you. Together we learn how you relate to others and what kinds of talking “with” or “at” yourself is going on inside. I pay careful attention to what you say and how you say it. We discover together what motivates your choices, what you do with emotional and bodily pain. Once you learn to listen to yourself in a new way, vital answers for the unconscious questions coming up from within will show up, leading to better tolerating what has to be tolerated as well as to making better choices in your life. I work with people of all ages and identities who want to talk in this deeper way to understand the meaning of their problems and feelings as they make changes in their ways of relating to others and to themselves.

Psychotherapy involves meeting once or twice a week in an open-ended time frame; it may be short, long, or in-between.