Psychoanalysis is a highly effective psychological treatment that improves the lives of many people.
There are times in all our lives when our emotions feel overwhelming and we can even become unwell with a mental health problem. Having psychoanalytic treatment can help us to better understand ourselves and to work through our difficulties.
Psychoanalytic treatment consists of meeting with an analyst on a regular basis for sessions that last fifty minutes. This stable, confidential structure gives you and your analyst the chance to connect with and understand what is happening at a deeper level. By being so generous with time, attention and thought, psychoanalytic therapy can bring about authentic and lasting change, even when working with substantial emotional difficulties
At the heart of psychoanalysis is the recognition that our complex and often unconscious emotional life is a fundamental part of being human. Sometimes we don’t understand the beliefs and fears that shape our way of looking at and living in the world, as they have become ingrained and automatic. We can find ourselves repeating destructive behaviours, feeling stuck in unhappy relationships and stunting our emotional, creative and professional development.
Psychoanalysis can significantly diminish psychological suffering and improve our health and wellbeing, opening up our capacity for greater fulfilment in life.
- You can read more about the evidence on the effectiveness of psychoanalytic treatment here.
- You can watch “Michael”, our short film about seeking help here
“Now and then I get depressed, briefly, and I just think, God, this is how I used to feel all the time. So it was really like the sun began to come out, because I think I had been depressed since I was quite a small child.” – Wendy Cope, Poet
Psychoanalysts work in private practice, and some also work in the NHS. Analysts see patients in a quiet, private consulting room, often at their home. In order to qualify and start treating patients, a psychoanalyst must complete an intensive supervised training.
Influenced by the original work of the Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1857 – 1939), many analysts have gone on to produce their own innovative ideas over the past century. Psychoanalysis as a theory of the human mind continues to develop all the time, responding in a questioning and thoughtful way to the constantly evolving world in which we live. In turn, analysts use this new knowledge and understanding to better help the people they treat.
You can read more about the rich history of psychoanalytic theory and ideas in our Authors and Theorists section.
Cost and time
“My analysis was the most important experience of my life. It turned my life around.” – Andrew Robinson, Doctor
The cost of psychoanalytic treatment varies depending on a number of factors.
Different analysts will charge different fees, which they will also adjust to an extent, depending on your income and what you can afford. How much you pay will also depend on how many times per week you see your analyst, on your particular circumstances, and your analyst’s availability.
As a rough figure, you can expect to pay somewhere between £8,000 and £14,000 per year for a full five-times weekly analysis. This is based on sessions over ten months of the year as most analysts break for a combined total of two months each year. Your analyst will talk to you about these breaks in advance.
If you see your analyst less frequently, you may be charged something in the range of £50 to £120 per individual session.
For those on a low income, the Institute of Psychoanalysis offers a small number of places in low-fee psychoanalysis in London and the North of England.
Time is an important factor in psychoanalytic treatment as it encourages change through engaging with the unconscious mind – analysis does not offer any quick fixes. What it can offer is a depth of change and recovering that other, short-term treatments often cannot. Typically, people will see an analyst for several years, though the exact length of an analysis will, of course, depend on the individual’s specific problems and situation.
"I’m much more trusting and more able to enjoy life. But also I don’t get depressed. I used to get terribly depressed. I fought with depression all my life, and after analysis, that stopped. It made an enormous difference to my professional life. I’m much more able to move on. I just feel great. I’m still a little anxious, but I’m more able to hold it and deal with it.” – Anon, Psychotherapist
The couch has played a part in analytic treatment sine its earliest days, with patients lying down, faced away from the analyst.
The idea behind is that, in order to encourage free association – saying whatever comes into your mind during an analytic session, without censorship – it is easier to be in this reclining position, and not facing your analyst.
You might find some similarity in the way it can be easier to share your feelings with a friend or relative when not looking straight at them, say when you are sitting next to them in the car.
Although some people find that lying down helps them to get into a space conducive to the analytic process, others find it more helpful to sit in a chair. This is something you can discuss with your psychoanalyst.
If would like to arrange to meet a psychoanalyst or access treatment through the Institute of Psychoanalysis Clinical Service please click here.