Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is a type of talking therapy that is used in the treatment of many mental health conditions. Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is one of the most popular types of therapy.

Like all treatments in mental health, there are advantages and disadvantages to Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy, as we cover in this article.

Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is a therapy that has helped many people

What is Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy?

Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy: Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is a talking therapy that aims to help uncover and resolve unconscious beliefs that cause psychiatric conditions. Traumatic experiences that may or may not be buried in the unconscious mind can be highlighted and processed. Psychoanalytical psychotherapy involves talking to a trained therapist. The therapist can show the individual how early memories and past traumas have affected their thinking, behaviour and attitude in the modern day. Psychoanalytical psychotherapy is especially useful for any condition that involves past trauma. Renowned neurologist Sigmund Freud developed this therapy, which is typically completed over a long-term basis.

Advantages of Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy

  • A successful history: Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is one of the most widely-used types of talking therapy, and has helped countless people over the years. Due to its long running success, it is clear to see that in many cases, Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy will have the desired effect.
  • Rigorous training for therapists: Therapists need to go through rigorous training to become accredited for performing Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy. Because of this, a patient should engage with a therapist that is highly-qualified, experienced, and ready to help.
  • Helps with the past and present: Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is known for being helpful for treating past traumas. However, it can also benefit the present day too, especially if the patient is still being effected by unconscious memories.
  • No timescale: If someone finds Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy to be helpful, it is something that a person can do for years. It can provide ongoing assistance to someone throughout life. It is important to note however that if someone uses the NHS, it is not something that can go on for years.
  • Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy treats many conditions: Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy can treat so many different mental health conditions. Not only does this mean that a large amount of people will find it helpful, but it can also be really useful for anyone that suffers from more than one mental health condition.
  • Outlook is good: When a person finds relief from Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy, they will typically find their life improves immeasurably. Instead of being held back by past events, they will witness an improvement in their symptoms, and hopefully be able to progress with their life with the feeling of having weight taken off of their shoulder.

Disadvantages of Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy

  • Length of time taken: By nature, Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is a long-term form of talking therapy. This represents a big commitment. Therefore, it can take time for change to take place. If it doesn’t work for a patient, it can be a significant waste of time.
  • Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is not always effective: Despite the success that is generally seen with Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy, it will not always be effective. Research has shown that Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy doesn’t always provide relief [1]. Therefore, it isn’t a guaranteed route towards improved mental health.
  • Distress is likely: As Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy brings up past traumas, it can cause significant distress. Trauma can be very difficult to process, and a person might have forgotten some of the horrors that they have been through. It can be difficult to work through and come to terms with past events. A person may become angry or react unpredictably when faced with such revelations.
  • Not intensive: For those that need an immediate boost, Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy simply won’t offer good results. Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy needs time to work, and therefore is not suitable for anyone that needs quick results.
  • Freud’s theory has been challenged: Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy works on the basis of the research of Sigmund Freud. Since his research, many have challenged its accuracy. The main critique is that individual differences between people and trauma is not taken into account, with all people instead being lumped together. However, all mental health conditions are different.
  • Potential long-term damage: The nature of Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy means that potentially, harmful ideas can be planted by a therapist. While a therapist may be trying to help, they might inadvertently act in a way that damages a person. It is therefore seen as a somewhat “dangerous” therapy. A therapist could infer someone’s thoughts incorrectly. Moreover, there is also the chance that a “false memory” could be created, which can have a disastrous impact.

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[1] Smit, Y., Huibers, M., Ioannidis, J., van Dyck, R., van Tilburg, W. & Arntz, A. (2012). The effectiveness of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy—A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Psychology Review. 32 (2), p81-92.