A psychoanalytic approach starts from a place where we might not know why we are struggling or feeling the way we are or why we are stuck in repeating patterns of behaviour which we know to be unhelpful. All we know is that they leave us feeling sad, confused, lonely, depressed or generally miserable. By carefully listening to and teasing out some of our inner thoughts, feelings, associations or even dreams, we can begin to piece together and make conscious, some of these thoughts, feelings and behaviours that create our distress. Having brought these into conscious awareness, we then have the opportunity to reflect on them and think more clearly about how we wish to move forward. This often involves taking a step back and looking in on the situation to gain a different perspective, or challenging some of these automatic feelings or beliefs that have becomes such a normal part of our lives. As the therapy progresses, hopefully our feelings about ourselves, our situation and the people important to us will begin to feel less conflicted, more resolved and we can live with greater contentment and satisfaction.
The Importance of Attachment
I believe that attachments in our life shape our individual growth and emotional development. The may include attachment to our family, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbourhood or our wider culture. When this network of attachments is secure, loving, consistent and predictable, we develop an emotional security that allows us to cope with the inevitable challenges life throws at us. However, when we are subject to inconsistent, traumatic or neglectful relationships, this undermines our emotional security and we may struggle to cope with life.
By developing a secure trusting attachment with a therapist, over time this experience can become a crucible within which we can understand, process and come to terms with difficult feelings or experiences. This is not always an easy process as it can sometimes be painful and take a long time but gradually by carefully listening, reflecting on and working issues through differently in a secure empathic context we hope to create the catalyst for positive change. There are occasions when people may have a more specific issue that they wish to explore and gain clarity on and in this instance a shorter-term, more focussed approach may be more appropriate. Both are possible within an attachment-based framework.