When someone at a party asks "What do you do?" and hears back “I’m a Psychotherapist and a Psychoanalyst,” they either beat a hasty retreat or they become the person whose company you'll be enjoying for the rest of the party. Sometimes they ask how the two differ. It can be difficult enough to explain exactly what a Psychotherapist or a Psychoanalyst does, let alone how they differ, but in the interests of explaining my point of view, I'll give it a shot and try to be brief.
Psychotherapy is the process of meeting and connecting with another person or persons in an attempt to discern their experience and emotions with the hopes of offering a witnessing of their life, and an aim of lessening their struggle and furthering their growth. The tools used range from psychological techniques (CBT-BDT), to emotional attunement (empathic listening), to interpretation.
Psychoanalysis is the same endeavor, but practiced by someone who has had 4 to 5 years of additional residency and training in the techniques created by Sigmund Freud and further developed by those who followed after him. Many analysts, like myself, can directly trace their supervisory and training heritage back to Freud himself.
Psychoanalysis can be as much an art as a science. Its practice can be measurable but also ephemeral. The connection is a relationship that is at once grounded and ever morphing. The practitioner's primary tools are his or her own training, feelings, life experience and intellect. We experience the patient, dig deep and treat from an ever growing field of understanding of who the patient is and has been from within the context of their life.
The last point I'll make is that lying on the couch and not having eye contact with your analyst is not a requirement for psychoanalysis. Freud himself did not use a couch, but more of a leaning back lounge daybed sort of thing and the idea of not facing your analyst is also debatable. Many understand this as a result of the surgeries Freud had for cancer in his jaw. Not wanting to distract his patients from their own process, he turned his chair. Whether you choose to lie down or sit face to face, it is the connection and fit that I believe makes the analysis.
How to Choose: I do not hold any personal value judgement about whether therapy or analysis is a better or more viable modality. Both have research indicating efficacy and it would seem that consistency is the most important variable. Both are more than a century old, and have helped an untold number of lives. So, I practice both, sometimes within a single session, as they are far more alike than different.
I however have a deep belief that in today's ever more chopped up existence of bytes, memes and threads, the treatment consulting room remains one of the few places where two people can come together in safety, without intrusion, and connect deeply in the service of the patient. It is this level of knowing and being known that helps and cures. I have often said that I have the honor of going to my office every day and working to put myself out of business, endeavoring to make myself useless. For me, this is a deeply optimistic idea.
People often ask if I work in any specific areas or within any fields of interest. It's a tough question, because we tend to want to believe that suffering and growth exist within groups, categories or diagnoses, but they don't. Its also a question that I sometimes would love to answer with; "yup..., humans." But that gets you a funny look and is probably not what they are asking. So here's a short list of some of the areas I have trained, practiced and published a great deal within.
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