Seattle psychoanalytic therapy
I like to view my role as collaborating with you to achieve a greater awareness of yourself, to develop more effective patterns of behavior, and to resolve undesirable or troubling emotions and interpersonal conflicts. I will listen to you carefully and deeply. During our work together, we may explore patterns of thoughts and feelings derived from your family of origin that affect your current life and relationships. Within the structure and support of the therapy relationship, these patterns become more apparent and conscious, and are thus more easily understood and changed.
Psychoanalytic therapy is not an intellectual exercise. The therapist does not primarily teach the patient. The patient does not cognitively understand a new way of being and transform him/herself thereby. What happens is grounded in the experience of unconscious patterns that are actually lived out in the therapeutic relationship. The therapist interprets in the transference the immediate and primal emotional experience of the patient and it is through the new experience of old emotional patterns that insight is meaningfully achieved. The therapeutic frame, those restrictive rules limiting the nature of the relationship between the patient and therapist, creates a holding environment within which such experiences, often quite painful and anxiety provoking, can be contained, endured safely, and overcome. The therapist’s office should be the safest place the patient has ever experienced.
Establishing the “frame” of the therapy is critical for success and begins with the first phone call. Trust cannot happen quickly. It develops over time and the accumulation of experiences that the patient has with the therapist as a reliable and safe person. There can be no contact outside the clinical office other than coordinating or emergency phone calls. Therapists do not and should not make house-calls or meet anywhere but the therapist’s office. With the possible exception of an initial handshake, there is absolutely no physical contact between the therapist and client at any time for any reason. This last rule is inflexible and necessary for everyone’s protection.
The two necessary elements that every client needs to bring to therapy (or at least be able to develop) are honesty and courage. They are inextricably intertwined. Psychoanalytic therapy has been called “the habit of honesty” (McWilliams, 2005) and it is always surprising how much courage it takes to be honest. Reality is not entirely malleable and without allowing the therapist to know what actually happened and how it actually effected you the therapy cannot be effective.
The goal is always to help the client become stronger in every aspect of their being. Happiness, endurance, courage, honesty, resilience, and other characteristics most clients want are all just synonyms for strength of character and will. You can become powerful with this method.