Types of therapy

Psychotherapy is the systematic, structured, and organized use of a treatment relationship, to promote growth and change in the way someone experiences self and relatedness to others.  Like all teaching, you can't simply tell someone to "be" a certain way.  (Recall the old vaudeville joke, "louder and funnier!")  The therapist is like a teacher, working to enable the patient (student) to experience something  in a new way.  This is reflected in the name given to one treatment model, "cognitive-behavioral therapy,"  which (like most psychotherapies) is based on psychoanalysis.  You can't fully understand something until you have experienced it.  (That is why it's so hard to explain an experience -- whether of psychotherapy, or riding on a roller-coaster --  to someone who hasn't "been there.")

Psychoanalysis was first developed, more than 100 years ago, as a method for the systematic study, and treatment, of aspects of thinking that show up in human behavior, yet cannot be understood or changed through  direct conscious awareness.  The idea that some thinking was not conscious was at first controversial, even revolutionary.  Now, a century later, that idea is accepted as a part of our culture.  Psychoanalysis has evolved, too, over the past hundred years.  The psychoanalytic method remains the best systematic way for addressing certain problems.

Today, I would define psychoanalysis as a systematic method for addressing impediments to the  regulation of thought and feeling,  or to intense, authentic engagement with oneself or with another.  By engagement with oneself, I mean living in a way that fulfills one's personal goals and ideals.  The various psychological entities and schools of thought  all begin with  the effort to understand such problems.  For more information about psychoanalysis click here.

Cartoon video:  "Ask your doctor if psychoanalysis might be right for you."