Psychological suffering can be expressed in multiple ways and unduly limit the way people live their lives. People seek therapy for a variety of reasons: they may suffer from anxiety or depression; they may feel ‘stuck’ or blocked and have trouble getting on with their relationships or lives. Perhaps someone may be plagued by obsessive thoughts or conflicts, feelings of shame, guilt or fear. Others may have suffered traumatic experience and its enduring aftermath. Some seek a space to reflect on where they are at in their lives and the life transitions they are confronted with.
A psychoanalytical approach understands therapy as being ‘holistic’. That means we do not focus on a particular symptom or symptoms, although neither do we ignore them. We consider the symptoms in a wider context of the client’s life, their past and present experience, as well as their hopes for the future.
A therapy session is a confidential, reliable space where client and therapist come together for regular meetings. This is a space where the client can talk freely about whatever is on their mind – current or past issues, relationships, dreams… Everything the client brings is important and taken into account in trying to understand what is at the root of their unhappiness or distress. We understand that much of our psychological life is not readily put into words nor is easily available for us to feel or think about – that might be patterns of relating to other people, the world, and of course, to oneself.
The therapist accompanies the client, listening, taking in non-judgementally what she or he is saying, feeling, and what is happening in the session then giving feedback, perhaps encouraging discussion or more reflection on what has just been expressed.
In this way, the joint effort made in the session helps to ‘make sense’ to what is happening in the client’s life, finding ways to express and think about what previously had been difficult to access. We work with emotions, memories and sensations and build bridges between them and aspects of the client’s life.