What is psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is a long-term, depth-oriented process of self-exploration and increasing self-knowledge, in which you meet at least 3 times a week over the duration of years.  Rather than focusing on a specific symptom, psychoanalysis is a process of understanding how you became the person you are and gaining a greater sense of what might be possible for your life.  While it is not the best fit for everyone, some people find it to be a transformative process.  It is a space that engages with history, relationships, desires, and the aspects of our selves that are outside of our conscious awareness.  The process of analysis moves beyond easy or obvious answers, and provides a space and time for reflection outside of the demands of everyday life.  It is less structured than many therapies, and is deeply respectful of the complexities and contradictions of human experience.  Although some people lay on the couch in analysis, it can also be conducted face-to-face.  Although American psychoanalysis has had a negative reputation in the past, feminist and relationally-oriented interventions into the field have enlivened the practice in recent years.    

Most psychoanalytic institutes require their students to be experienced and licensed counselors before beginning training (though there may be special tracks for academics from other fields).  Once in the institute, a candidate complete four years of classes, several supervised training cases, and their own personal analysis.