What is psychotherapy?
To put it simply, psychotherapy is the treatment of psychological problems through talking about one's thoughts and emotions with a therapist, it can otherwise be called ‘talking therapy’.
Psychotherapists follow different scientific traditions to inform their practice of which psychoanalytic psychotherapy is one.
Talking therapies can be done individually, on a one to one basis or in groups. There is mounting scientific evidence to support the use of talking therapies in most mental health problems.
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Psychoanalysis, the oldest of all psychotherapies was founded by Sigmund Freud in the last decades of the 19th century. Psychoanalytic therapies differ from most other therapies in the importance it holds for the role of unconscious mental functions and its impact on our daily lives and relationships.
Psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy is derived from psychoanalysis with the same core focus on the unconscious. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is used mainly for people who have problems in relationships, either with themselves or others.
Other therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) treat mental health problems through our conscious thoughts, beliefs and emotions. The diagnosis of the mental health problem determines the type of psychotherapy recommended.
We may find ourselves getting stuck, things getting out of control or feeling trapped by our circumstances and relationships. Psychoanalysis cannot solve external problems but it can help you achieve greater awareness about yourself and how you relate to others.
With greater awareness and a deeper understanding comes greater choice and the ability to exercise it.
What to expect from your initial consultation?
The initial meeting with a psychotherapist is termed a consultation. It may be a one off meeting or go on for a few sessions. Typically the consultation lasts 60 to 75 minutes for an individual and longer for couples or families. Assessment for suitability for psychoanalytic psychotherapy is done during a consultation but this is not the only purpose of the consultation. Consultations can be therapeutic in themselves.
During the consultation the therapist will attempt to get to know you and the problems you face in detail. Background information about your parents, the nature of your relationship with them and your other close relationships are vital in building a clear picture of how your current problems emerged. You can use the session to describe your goals as well as fears.
Dreams, if you remember any, can be a useful way into understanding your unconscious wishes and anxieties. At the end of the consultation you can expect to feel understood and to have a sense of whether psychoanalytic therapies might be useful. If you and the therapist agree that this method could be beneficial, discussion on accessing psychotherapy and its details may be discussed.
At Tara Clinic, our psychotherapy services are led by Malika Verma who trained in this speciality at the Tavistock and Portman in London. She has a wide experience in this field both clinically and in training and supervising other therapists.
Psychotherapy sessions are done on a regular basis, usually at the same time on the same day of the week. Each session of individual therapy lasts 50 minutes.
Short term therapies usually go on for around six months whereas longer therapies carry on for a minimum of a year. Where needed, depending on the problem and the person, the intensity of therapy may be increased to two or more sessions a week.
Other talking therapies offered:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Beneficial for anxiety disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and panic. It is a symptom-focused approach looking at the link between thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Typically lasts 6 to 12 sessions.
Other therapeutic modalities such as Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) and Supportive Psychotherapy may be also be accessed depending on the consultation.
Couple and Family Therapy
For marital discord, dysfunctional family dynamics and problems with children in the family. The focus is on the family as a unit. Sessions are usually 1.5 to 2 hours long and may involve two therapists. The family and couple therapy offered at Tara Clinic is largely psychoanalytic but a systemic approach may also be used.