Psychoanalytic theory, the theory that guides psychoanalysis, was first developed by Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis is a therapeutic treatment method founded in the study of the unconscious mind. Freud believed that people could be cured of any number of mental health issues by making conscious their unconscious thoughts and motivations, which provides insights into the root of the issue. The goal of is to release pent-up or repressed emotions and memories to lead the client to catharsis, or healing. Traditionally, psychoanalysis sessions will occur 4–5 times a week, with clients lying on a couch, and the therapist (or analyst) often sitting just behind and out of sight. The client will express their thoughts, dreams and fantasies, which the analyst will examine to help the client gain powerful insights. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s psychoanalytic experts today.

Meet the specialists


Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is at the root of psychodynamic therapy. Looking to help clients bring the unconscious into conscious awareness, it appreciates the impact one's history has on their present symptoms and development as an individual. Psychoanalytic therapy is often longer-term version of psychodynamic therapy that utilizes the nuances of the relationship to inform one's treatment.

— Jeremy Cooper, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Richardson, TX

I call myself a psychoanalytic therapist because this kind of therapy draws on the entire lineage of psychology theory but has well adapted to the issues and concerns of our times. Contemporary psychoanalytic scholars and clinicians are actively engaged with issues of race, gender, social and political inequality, and substance use. This approach is less focused on quick-fixes and more focused on lasting change and overall wellbeing. However, solutions arise naturally in the process.

— Josanna Schimke, Marriage & Family Therapist in Berkeley, CA

While many psychoanalytic concepts can feel dated, there are also valuable ideas that are incredibly helpful. For example, psychoanalysis has great respect for the influence that our past has on our present and on our future. It gives us tools for thinking about how our minds take in information and how we make use of it. Perhaps most importantly, psychoanalysis has great respect for our unconscious minds and seeks to help us understand what might be going on "underneath the surface."

— Marla Cass, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Psychoanalysis is an intense and life changing type of therapy that will help you get a deeper sense of who you are. Psychoanalysis will help you uncover and explore inner conflicts and coping mechanisms that are out of your awareness. This emotional knowledge will help create long- lasting personal transformation. Psychoanalysis requires a commitment of at least three sessions per week for a long term.

— Edgard Francisco Danielsen, Psychoanalyst in New York, NY

By "psychoanalytic therapy," I mean that my work is influenced by Contemporary Relational Psychoanalysis. Unfortunately, psychoanalysis has picked up somewhat of a negative reputation along the way! While I agree that many psychoanalytic concepts feel dated and don't speak to many of us, there are also many valuable ideas that are very helpful. For example, psychoanalysis has great respect for the idea that our past has an impact on our present and on our future, even though we may not remember the exact details. It also gives us tools for thinking about how our minds take in information and how we make use of it.

— Marla Cass, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

I practice contemporary psychoanalytic therapy. This means I pay attention to how your past relationships affect the way you learn to regulate and manage emotions in your day-to-day life. Our brains are built through repeated interactions with our earliest relationships and environments, and can be changed through the experience of a new relationship: therapy. This means I consider our work in session as a chance to learn new ways of experiencing your emotions that lead to joy-filled life.

— Connor McClenahan, Psychologist in Los Angeles, CA

Psychoanalysis is the treatment methodology and theory that informs psychodynamic therapy. In addition to what I note in regards to psychodynamic therapy, I engage in ongoing education and the study of psychoanalysis via reading groups, continuing education, and professional organizations (Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology, Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychology of the APA). Essential to psychoanalytic study, I have personally been a patient in analysis since 2013.

— Adam Hinshaw, Psychologist in Dallas, TX

I am trained at the MN Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

— Kaycie Dale, Counselor in Edina, MN