What is psychotherapy?
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy aims to uncover the unconscious processes that give rise to the emotional and relationship difficulties in the life of the person seeking therapy, the patient. The context for this endeavour is the relationship that develops between the psychotherapist and the patient, which is an unusual and somewhat strange one. It is framed by firm boundaries of time and place and is strictly limited to the professional context.
These boundaries create a safe space in which some very unsafe feelings, thoughts and ideas can be explored. Such exploration makes for a uniquely intimate relationship, but one that does not go beyond the professional context. This is what makes it unusual, because the psychotherapist is not a part of the patient’s life, and yet the work that is done in the consulting room can have a huge impact upon the patient’s life.
The focus of the work is the patient’s internal and unconscious mind, but the psychotherapist uses all her senses, her own thoughts, feelings and intuition, along with her theoretical learning, to try to understand what is being conveyed by the patient at all levels of mental functioning.
The patient is invited to speak freely about whatever comes to mind, the assumption being that this will convey what it is that requires the attention of the psychotherapist. The psychotherapist uses her thinking to help the patient to develop their own understanding of what they are needing to communicate that is not immediately available to awareness.
As the work progresses and the partnership develops, deeper exploration becomes more possible and, with this, greater freedom to function in a more effective and satisfying way. Indeed, freedom from the internal conflicts that can imprison a person’s capacity to use their own mind to the full is the overall aim of my work as a psychotherapist.
This is a task that can only move at the pace that is right for the patient, so psychoanalytic psychotherapy is not one that is time limited, but continues until the patient feels ready to work towards ending the therapy and moving on from the relationship, taking with them the emotional development that has been forged in the psychotherapy relationship.
A central tenet of my own and all psychoanalytic training is a personal analysis. It is considered, and I agree, that the psychotherapist must have a thorough, on-going personal analysis of their own if they are to develop the professional capacity to make themselves emotionally and intellectually available to their patients at a profoundly meaningful level. I believe that the patient needs to be able to really trust that the psychotherapist’s mind is fully available to them for the duration of the session and that this is not hindered by the psychotherapists’ own unresolved conflicts and difficulties.
My own psychoanalysis spanned a total of 15 years at 3 and 4 times per week and I continue to carry with me the greater freedom of mind and potential for creativity that developed during those years.
In addition to the personal psychoanalysis, the training, which typically took 7 years part time, looked at the work of Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott, Wilfred Bion and many other contemporary writers and thinkers in the field.
There were twice weekly seminars, theoretical and clinical. The theory seminars focused on how the personality develops through the life span of a person and how the emotional environment of the individual can encourage or discourage an approach to life that is loving and rewarding. We also looked at how different psychological conditions can develop as a result of trauma and how the unconscious mind finds ways to defend against the emotional pain of trauma.
When we were considered ready, we undertook the task of working with one patient and then later, another patient at 3 times per week for at least two years each. These patients were thought about in weekly supervision and in clinical seminars. A great deal of thought was given to trying to comprehend the unconscious dilemmas behind their communications and the way in which the relationship with the psychotherapist was being used in this context.
The concepts that I learned when I trained are outlined in my book ‘Everyday Life and the Unconscious Mind'.
Psychoanalysis continues to be a vibrant and challenging discipline, that has something to say about just about everything. The journey never ends, there is always something that can be thought about differently, always fresh learning to take from it.
I work from my consulting room in my home in Colchester, Essex. Usually this is face to face but zoom or another medium is possible if necessary.
The ongoing sessions are for 50 minutes and may be once, twice or three times weekly, depending on what is possible and what seems best. Sessions always start and finish on time.
Missed or cancelled sessions are chargeable except when I cancel. I usually take 10 -12 weeks holiday per year. Fees are invoiced on a monthly basis and payment is by cheque or bank transfer.
In 2020, lives and working practices across the world changed dramatically in response to the pandemic. Like everyone else psychotherapists had to adapt to different ways of offering their service to people.
In accordance with guidelines from the British Psychoanalytic Council, I began to work online using Zoom, FaceTime and phone. I continue to use these platforms but I find on the whole that Zoom is the most reliable. All the online platforms can come with internet unreliability which does sometimes interfere with the communication. On the whole, the internet has made it possible for psychotherapy to continue through the pandemic and I am happy to continue using Zoom for current and future psychotherapies.
In addition to this, and again in line with professional guidelines, I have made my consulting room ‘covid safe.’ I work from my home and have put in place sanitising measures to keep the entrance, consulting room and bathroom clean and hygienic.
Fees and Availability
My psychotherapy practice is usually full, but there is often something coming up in the near future so it is always worth asking. My fees are currently £80 per session and cancelled sessions are chargeable, unless cancelled by me of course.
If you want to contact me please use the contact form and I will respond. If I cannot offer you a psychotherapy space immediately, I do hold a waiting list or I may be able to suggest a colleague in this locality.