"When Psychoanalytic treatment is successful, it is not just symptoms that change, the person changes.
Jonathan Shedler, PhD. | Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California
A 2019 National Survey of 400 psychoanalysts and psychodynamic therapists conducted by Psychoanalysis Now showed the practice of psychoanalysis has undergone enormous changes.
Contrary to the belief that psychoanalysts treat people only 3 or more sessions per week -- a view that greatly underestimates the availability of this treatment for most people -- 96% of respondents said that they regularly conduct therapy either once or twice per week. 70% of analytic therapists said they've been treating patients at these frequencies for at least 10 years.
The survey asked whether analytic therapists were able to apply the same depth of knowledge and understanding to patients who were seen less frequently as they did in traditional, more intensive psychoanalyses. 100% of the respondents said they were able to bring the same expertise to these treatments, enabling the achievement of deeper awareness and mastery characteristic of traditional psychoanalysis itself.
Unlike the belief that psychoanalysts require that patients lie on a couch, actual practice in 2019 is that the decision to lie on a couch or sit in a chair is purely a matter of a patient's preference. Indeed, 73% of analytic therapists reported that they practice long-distance therapy via telephone or Internet video connections, underscoring the current psychoanalytic view that it is the experience of confidentially talking together and seeking underlying, out-of-awareness (unconscious) themes, that makes a treatment psychoanalytic, not the furniture or technology employed.
The survey also found that the stereotype of the silent analyst is extinct. 98% of psychoanalytic therapist described themselves as speaking regularly or often and, as with other popular misconceptions, almost 50% said this had been true for at least 10 years.
Today's psychoanalysis is very different from our grandparents' time. Ancient narrower focuses have been cast off in favor of a broad investigation of all of life's feelings, relationships, and issues. The cartoon image of the silent analyst is gone.
Today’s psychoanalysts privilege active conversation between the two people in the room. But what remains unique about psychoanalytic treatment is its foundational idea: that talking about life with no limits, manuals, or workbooks, and looking beyond the surface for the meaning in one's thoughts and actions, creates an unparalleled opportunity for lasting growth.