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Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find a list of commonly asked questions about psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy (click on questions for further information):

How can I find a psychoanalyst or psychoanalytic psychotherapist?

If you are interested in seeking a consultation from a MIP psychoanalyst, please feel free to peruse the MIP Directory.

You may also fill out a referral form or be in touch directly with MIP’s Executive Director, John Tyler, for further information about finding a psychoanalyst or psychoanalytic therapist at

Is psychoanalysis only a form of therapy?

Psychoanalysis is not only a form of individual therapy; it is also a body of theories and a method for learning about the mind and its interaction with social forces. Psychoanalytic thinking is a rich resource for understanding psychological processes such as child development, as well as addressing social problems such as child abuse, violence, drug abuse, and social alienation. Psychoanalysis is also engaged in dialogues with other disciplines such as science, history, philosophy, feminist studies, spirituality, visual arts, literature, poetry, music and film.

Do psychoanalysts talk with their patients or do they remain silent?

Psychoanalysts when they are silent are focusing their careful listening skills on whatever thoughts, feelings, or expressions of imagination the patient is pursuing. A psychoanalyst indeed talks to offer an idea, a resonant note of feeling, a potential linking or “connecting the dots” to help patients bring their experience into meaningful focus. Part of an analyst’s skill is an intuitive sense of when silence offers a useful space for the patient’s thoughts to emerge freely, and when the analytic process may be helped to move forward by talking to the patient in ways that foster emotional connection, open the places where thoughts have become stuck or confusing, or ask a question that inspires curiosity.

Why the couch? Do I have to lie down?

Many individuals find that the use of an analytic couch allows them to speak more freely about their most personal concerns, and to access experiences that have usually been kept out of awareness. For others, the experience of a face-to-face dialogue seems essential for the unfolding of the process. Whether to sit up or recline on the analytic couch will be a decision you and your analyst will make together and, in the course of an analysis, it may vary over time.

Is it possible to seek a consultation from a psychoanalyst to see if psychoanalysis is right for me?

Most, if not all, psychoanalysts make themselves available for a consultation to explore whether a psychoanalysis is a relevant and timely undertaking for a person who seeks personal transformation. A consultation includes a mutual decision between the analyst and the inquiring person regarding whether they feel like a good “match” to do the work together. Referrals to trusted colleagues for further consultation are always an option.

Who is a psychoanalyst?

Psychoanalysts are licensed mental health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, mental health counselors, or psychiatrists. These clinicians have had substantial training and experience as therapists before beginning their psychoanalytic training. Psychoanalytic training consists of a rigorous program of several years of coursework, a personal analysis, and experience providing psychoanalysis under the supervision of experienced analysts. Most importantly, a psychoanalyst is a person committed to offering disciplined and careful listening and thoughtful relating in the service of human growth and development, and the quality of life. Many clinicians who have not had the advanced training to offer psychoanalysis nonetheless turn to psychoanalytic ideas as their “GPS” in their practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

Did psychoanalysis end with Freud or are there contemporary versions that can be helpful for today’s problems?

The theory and methods of psychoanalysis originated with Sigmund Freud’s pioneering work in exploring the influence of unconscious processes on everyday life and on emotional difficulties. It is now recognized that no single theory accounts for the complex workings of the human mind, and no single method or technique suffices. Contemporary psychoanalysts draw on a range of theories to guide their efforts to apprehend and respond to their patients’ communications compassionately and effectively. Although psychoanalysis retains its recognition of the ways unconscious factors shape our lived experience, current approaches to psychoanalysis place an intimately engaged and mutually negotiated human relationship at the heart of therapeutic effectiveness.

Who enters psychoanalysis?

People seek psychoanalysis for many different reasons. Some people hope for deepening self-understanding and fulfillment in their personal lives. Others may feel stuck in distressing patterns that prevent them from feeling satisfied, from connecting with others, or from finding meaning in their lives. Others want help with specific emotional difficulties such as depression, or are seeking to come to terms with a painful or traumatic personal history.

I’m interested in getting a consultation with a MIP member psychoanalyst. How should I proceed?

MIP maintains an on-line referral resource with contact information for our  psychotherapist and psychoanalyst members. To search this directory by last name, location (city), or clinical specialty, CLICK HERE. If you have additional questions about finding referral for a therapist or analyst, CLICK HERE to contact our administrator directly.