Clinical Psychology Department

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy


The purpose of this section is to give you some basic information about psychoanalytic psychotherapy so that you have a better understanding of how it works.


The Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Service forms a small part of your local Mental Health Service. It offers an intensive and usually once-weekly form of therapy that takes place either individually or within a small and confidential group setting. Appointments are usually offered between 9:00am and 5:00pm and you should expect to be attending therapy for approximately a year though sometimes longer.

What happens in PSYCHOTHERAPY?

Psychotherapy is not focused on giving advice but is rather aimed at helping you figure out what you really want to do with the issues or difficulties you may be facing in your life, on finding, in other words, the best solution for you in relation to the problems you are experiencing.

What does this mean?
It means that the therapist will not necessarily talk a lot, or get into everyday conversation with you, but will instead pay careful attention to understanding your problems, and to enabling you to find the best way to deal with the significant issues in your life.

You may wonder what people talk about in psychotherapy or how talking can help. In psychotherapy you are invited to talk about anything and everything in the most open possible way – including, for example, your night dreams and daydreams. In doing so, you explore the way you understand yourself and others – which may then lead you to make changes. In therapy there is no notion that it is right or wrong to talk about particular topics, and it is important to be able to say whatever comes into your mind.

Through psychotherapy you may discover that long-held beliefs about yourself and your world come up for examination. These may be difficult to work with, and the thoughts and feelings that accompany them might be difficult to change. However, this is an important part of therapy and you should give yourself the freedom to experience emotions – even strong ones – as they arise.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy utilises the notion of the unconscious, or “unconscious mind”, which you may have heard about. What this means is that things that we can’t necessarily remember, or remain unaware of, can have a significant influence on our lives – especially on the choices and decisions we make. Within therapy, therefore, new memories may arise, or you may make new connections between your thoughts and feelings, which you may find helpful, surprising, or even perhaps at times distressing. Usually, however, these new connections will have an important and overall positive influence on your life.

In this form of therapy you may develop strong feelings (positive or negative) towards the therapist. If this occurs, you are again encouraged to speak about what you think and/or feel is going on.

Sometimes, those closest to you may talk in an encouraging or discouraging way about changes you are making in your life as a result of therapy. This usually means that you are changing and others are adjusting to this. At other times, you may feel that things are going nowhere and that you want to stop therapy. Again, it is both useful and important for you to talk about such feelings in the therapy itself rather that just act on them.

Psychotherapy does have emotional ups and downs associated with it. The important thing is to commit yourself to regular attendance in advance, so that the therapy comes before other things and is not treated as an “add-on” or as something that gets cancelled for minor reasons.

Psychological treatment options :

1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
2. Systemic Family Therapy
3. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
4. Integrative Psychotherapy