Who is therapy for?

Sometimes you need more help than friends or family can provide. It can be useful to talk your concerns over with someone you don’t know, who can be objective about your situation. It can be a great relief to have time to discuss your own issues without having to worry about the other person’s feelings, or feel guilty about taking the time you need.

People come to psychotherapy for a range of reasons. You may be considering therapy because of how you feel inside, difficulties in your everyday life, or you may want help with problems in your relationships. Some people are troubled by specific symptoms. Others come to psychoanalytic psychotherapy after having counselling or brief therapy which, although it may have been helpful, has left them feeling that more is needed. You may also value the additional control, choice and privacy that private psychotherapy can offer.

You might want a professional opinion about your difficulties, from someone who is experienced in mental health matters, to help you work out whether something is wrong, and needs attention. Or perhaps you are the one who helps others, and it is difficult to get your own feelings attended to?

You may feel stuck in a rut, have recently been through a life change, or are facing a time of transition, and would welcome an opportunity to take stock and reflect on your life. You can think of a consultation like a psychological ‘MOT’. Just as a car benefits from a periodic service, a therapeutic consultation can provide a ‘psychological service’ for a far more crucial machine – one’s own mind.
Each person has their own individual reasons for seeking psychotherapy. However, some of the issues include:

  • A curiosity about your mind and a wish to understand yourself better
  • Not achieving your potential
  • Difficulties in the way you relate to others
  • Problems with and at work
  • A wish to be more in touch with your feelings, and to express them better
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty getting over a bereavement or loss
  • A wish to improve your relationship with your partner (see couple work)
  • An unhealthy relationship with food
  • Self-destructiveness
  • Physical problems which you think may be linked to your emotions
  • Feelings of depression, meaninglessness, or hopelessness
  • Traumatic experiences in childhood or later life which continue to trouble you
  • Feeling unhappy and in emotional pain
  • A wish to find greater satisfaction in life
  • Confusion, including about your identity or sexual feelings
  • Problems with intimacy and sexual relationships (see also couple work)
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Chronic pain
  • Repeating patterns of behaviour you are unhappy about
  • Feelings of despair

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is most effective for people who have an interest in self-exploration and a curiosity about how their mind works.

Do you ever find yourself saying …

“I feel overwhelmed, and don’t know where or how
to begin to help myself …”

“When I look at myself, I don’t like what I see …”

I don’t understand why I behave in this way.”

“Why do I always fall for the same type of person,
someone who is not good for me?”

“I can never relax and let go.”

“I feel that life is out of my control.”

“I am permanently angry and take it out on
everyone around me.”

“I feel empty inside …”

“I have a sense of dread, and I don’t know why …”

“I feel like a fraud, I worry that I am going to get found out.”

“When I talk to my kids, I keep hearing my mother’s voice.”

“There must be more to life than this …”

What I don’t do

I am not an expert in the following areas. For these issues, I recommend that you seek help from someone who is trained and experienced in these specialist fields:

• Child psychotherapy
• Family therapy
• Drug or alcohol addiction, where it is the main problem
• Psychosis
• Dementia