Paul Cooper, Psychoanalyst

What Actually Happens in
Psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysis is designed to help you get in touch with your unconscious, the memories,
feelings and desires that are not readily available to your conscious mind; it is designed
to help you understand how your unconscious feelings and thoughts affect the way you act
and react, think and feel today. As a result of this process you are enabled to act more
effectively on your own behalf.
Psychoanalysis is often described as the "talking cure" because simply talking about what
is on your mind such as wishes, fantasies, thoughts, feelings or dreams, becomes the
primary vehicle to healing.
During the analytic session, anything that comes to mind becomes "grist for the mill":
present, past, problems, successes, good or bad feelings.  Whatever feels important at
that particular moment is valid material for discussion. It is through this free form of
conversation that might not even make any sense, that the early root influences on the
present become revealed.  Your unique narrative in the presence of someone who is
trained to listen and who can then respond meaningfully to your expereiences creates
the possibility for emotional unfolding.

"It was a tremendous relief to feel that somebody who could understand me was
actually listening."

The psychoanalyst listens without judgment and takes seriously anything that is being
spoken about.  During sessions you ar eencouraged to say whatever comes to mind even if
you imagine that it feels trivial or meaningless. freud described this form of speaking as
"free association" and he described it as the "fundmental rule" of psychoanalysis.  
Traditionally, the patient in analysis lies on a couch with the analyst seated behind. Not
facing the analyst, a person may experience a new degree of spontaneity and freedom,
and be more fully in touch with his or her deeper feelings and thoughts. Of course,
whatever is said in the analyst's office is held in the strictest confidence.