Sigmund Freud was the originator of psycho-analysis. Although very few psycho-analysts nowadays proceed exactly as Freud did, there is no psycho-analysis that does not derive from him. Nevertheless, we usually speak of Freudian and non-Freudian psycho-analysis. An important difference lies in the fact that Freudian psycho-analysis usually consists of -as many as five hourly sessions a week over a period of several years, whereas in the non-Freudian forms, shorter, less frequent, less protracted sessions are considered sufficient. In the latter forms, more emphasis is placed on the immediate situation of the person and his relationships with others.
This process consists of uncovering the unconscious forces influencing the person, which he cannot, simply by will, bring into his consciousness. The person does this by free association (saying anything that comes into his head), by telling about his dreams, and so on, to the psycho-analyst.
Once the unconscious material has been brought out, the person begins to feel relieved. Insight makes him stronger, his unconscious less powerful. He can then begin reacting in a new way.
The person has usually spent many years reacting in the old, self-defeating way, and habits are not easily changed even when one understands how they came about and wants very much to change them.
Psycho-analytically oriented psychotherapy
While they employ some of the techniques of psycho-analysis, these forms of therapy are much shorter. They concentrate on everyday problems of reality rather than on the person’s unconscious. It is felt that this therapy does not encourage the person to become dependent on his analyst or his sessions with him, but to do the work on his own.
Usually four to ten people are treated during the same therapy session. Some psychiatrists combine it with individual treatment. It is considered valuable because the persons react to one another as well as to the doctor, and because their self-confidence is increased by being with people whose problems are like their own.
Because the psychologically maladjusted person may be the product of an unhealthy family situation, many psychiatrists and other therapists have turned to family therapy as a method of help. In such therapy, the entire family may work out its conflicts and difficulties through discussions, in the same way as an individual does in the more conventional type of therapy.
This is a form of psychotherapy adapted to children. Anyone who has tried to help an emotionally disturbed child knows how hard it is to get him to talk about his problems. Play therapy provides a solution. The child reveals himself, far better than he could by talking, when he plays with toys and acts out his fantasies. Play therapy is usually combined with some form of therapy for the parents.