Janet L. Sharp, M.A., LPCC-S Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in Cleveland, Ohio

Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis

Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are the two types of therapy in which I specialize. Both are forms of talk therapy that rely on careful listening and exploration rather than homework or directions from the therapist.  The following are common questions about these approaches. Clicking on the links below will take you to a discussion of each question. In order to determine whether therapy might be helpful to you, you may contact me for further information or to request an appointment.

Who can benefit from psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis?

Psychotherapy or psychoanalysis is typically recommended for the person who is:

Who do you see in your practice?

People contact me for many reasons. Because the identity of the people I see is confidential, I am unable to describe actual people. However, examples of the many individuals who may respond well to psychodynamic therapy include:

What does psychodynamic mean?

Psychodynamic refers to the idea that the human mind, or psyche, is complex and active. Some of the factors or forces in play in the mind include:

These factors can be in conflict with one another, creating problems that can feel difficult to resolve. A few simple examples of this type of conflict are:

Problems like these are difficult to solve without help because the people suffering from them are unaware of what motivates their puzzling feelings or behavior. They keep making the same mistakes or reliving the same feelings and are unable to get control. Psychoanalysts specialize in understanding connections between past experience and present feelings, thoughts, and behavior.

What is psychodynamic therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy is a conversation between therapist and patient or client that is based on the assumptions that:

The thoughts and feelings that arise in psychotherapy provide keys to understanding oneself with the help of an experienced therapist.

What is psychoanalysis?

“Psychoanalysis” refers to a theory of the mind as well as a therapeutic method, both of which originated with Sigmund Freud. An Austrian neurologist, Freud observed that troubled, or troubling, human behavior, relationships, emotions, and thoughts tended to improve when his patients became aware of previously “unconscious” feelings, conflicts, beliefs, and motives that lay behind their problems. When these could be addressed in the context of the analytic situation, his patients obtained relief from emotional pain and found new solutions to their personal difficulties.

More than a century since Freud’s early discoveries, psychoanalysts continue to study how people think, feel, love, hate, learn, develop, and cope – using a method of listening and thinking that is similar to that of Freud, although with the benefit of advances in the field. It involves getting to know one unique individual at a time.

Early psychoanalytic theory and practice have undergone many revisions, but some of the major principles of psychoanalysis remain intact. For example:

What are the similarities between psychotherapy and psychoanalysis?

Both are methods of personal therapy derived from psychoanalytic theory.

How do psychotherapy and psychoanalysis differ?

The form of psychotherapy that I practice is informed by psychoanalytic or psychodynamic theory and technique, and therefore is quite similar to psychoanalysis. One of the differences between the two methods may be frequency of visits.

Psychotherapy may entail less frequency, with sessions occurring once or twice a week on average, and less often in some cases. The therapy may be brief or long-term, depending on the patient’s needs and goals. Psychoanalysis is conducted three to five times per week over an extended period of time. This more intensive therapy is often recommended for individuals with difficult, longstanding symptoms and those who desire a more in-depth approach after working in psychotherapy for awhile.

In both forms of therapy, some people prefer to make frequent eye contact with the analyst. Others prefer to focus elsewhere, in order to achieve a more relaxed state in which they may be more open to their own thoughts and speak as freely as possible.  In all therapy as I practice it, I am an active participant in the work. The old stereotype of the remote and silent analyst is a thing of the past.

Who is a psychoanalyst?

A psychoanalyst is a professional therapist who first obtains an advanced degree (for example, a Masters in counseling or social work, Ph.D. in psychology, or M.D.) before studying psychoanalytic practice and thought at an institute dedicated to psychoanalysis.

In addition to at least four years of course work and extensive, supervised clinical experience, each analyst-in-training is required to undergo their own psychoanalysis. In this way, they have an opportunity to become as thoroughly acquainted with their own character and mental life as possible.

This rigorous, multi-faceted preparation to work as a psychoanalyst is designed to ensure their ability to practice at the highest level of personal and professional integrity. If your physician or other trusted person suggests that therapy may be helpful to you, you may wish to consider seeing a psychoanalyst.  You could contact me to inquire or discuss making an appointment using the website contact form under Contact.

For more information about psychoanalysis, read the section called “About Psychoanalysis” at the website of the American Psychoanalytic Association.