Psychoanalysis is a type of psychotherapy created by Sigmund Freud. The theory of psychoanalysis is based on the idea that a person has both a conscious mind and an unconscious mind that he or she is unaware of. Psychoanalysis therapy techniques are designed to reveal the secrets of the unconscious so they can be dealt with. These techniques include free association, dream analysis and analyzing the transference of feelings onto the therapist.
In Freud’s interpretation, important emotions, impulses, and ideas take shape and exist in the unconscious part of the mind. In his theory, the conflict between the conscious mind and the unconscious is one of the causes of psychological disorders. Psychoanalysis therapy techniques help the therapist find patterns in a client’s behavior and thoughts that can reveal more information about the client’s unconscious mind. At times, a client may repress thoughts or emotions, forcing them into the unconscious, where they still cause psychological problems, although the client may not be aware of them.
Free association is one of the most often used psychoanalysis therapy techniques. The client, who usually sits on a couch where she or he cannot see the analyst, talks about whatever comes to mind. He or she is encouraged to make associations between thoughts and ideas and follow whatever thoughts come up. The analyst listens and helps the client uncover patterns of thoughts and behaviors he or she may be unaware of. Free association can give an analyst a view of the client’s unconscious mind.
Another one of the psychoanalysis therapy techniques an analyst might use is analyzing transference. Transference happens when clients direct an emotion toward the therapist that is actually an emotion they feel for someone else. For example, Freud’s clients may have felt annoyed at his interference in their lives, but that annoyance may have really been meant for a father figure and simply directed toward the analyst instead. By observing and analyzing the emotions toward the analyst, emotions toward other major figures in a client’s life may be revealed.
Freud believed that dreams are full of symbolism and meaning and give a view of the unconscious. Another one of the psychoanalysis therapy techniques analysts employ is dream analysis. Clients describe their dreams to the analyst, who looks for symbols or patterns that may reveal unconscious processes. Different dream elements may be symbolic. For example, Freud wrote that dreams of teeth falling out were often symbolic of a fear of castration.