Exploring The Techniques Of Psychoanalytic Therapy

Last Update on December 19, 2023 : Published on November 14, 2022

Based on Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, talk therapies like psychoanalytic therapy have developed their techniques. Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis talks about how our unconscious mind influences our actions, feelings, and thoughts.

The key concept of psychoanalytic therapy on which the techniques are formed is that our past experiences (childhood life) influence our present life and our behavior especially. So according to Freudians, by exploring childhood experience you can find a solution for your current problems.

The techniques used in psychoanalytic therapy have been seen to work wonders, especially in the case of emotional disorders. These techniques help you go to the bottom of your problems and help you treat the root itself.

Without further ado, let’s look at the main techniques used in psychoanalytic therapy…

Main Techniques Of Psychoanalysis


Psychoanalytic therapy functions on the basis of the theory of psychoanalysis by Freud. The key concept of psychoanalysis states that the answer to all our problems is hidden in our past experiences.

Freud specifically stressed the fact that whatever happens to us and around us during our childhood has a direct influence on our adult life. Therefore, all the techniques used in psychoanalytic therapy focus on past experiences and memory.

Also read: 10 Common Dreams And Their Meanings Explained By Psychology

The 4 main techniques used by psychoanalytic therapists to help you recognize self-defeating patterns are;

  1. Transference analysis
  2. Dream analysis
  3. Interpretation
  4. Free association

Let’s have a look at these in detail:

1.Transference Analysis

The idea of transference analysis comes from the fact that your behavior and action toward your therapist can tell a lot about your childhood experiences. The therapist uses this information to conclude how their past would have been.

Therefore, the therapist can draw information from your body language, thoughts, and behaviors towards them to gain some insight into your unconscious mind. However, in some cases, countertransference can also happen where the therapist’s unconscious thoughts and feelings about the patient come to the surface.

2.Dream Analysis

Sigmund Freud believed that our unconscious mind stores a lot of information about ourselves that once uncovered can solve most of our issues. According to Freud, dreams are a representation of our unconscious and subconscious minds. Therefore, analyzing our dreams can be a great way to uncover the unconscious.

Psychoanalytic therapists use dream analysis to identify those thoughts, beliefs, or feelings that might be unconsciously bothering you. They help you recall your dreams and try to note some key information from the dreams you remember. They then analyze patterns, symptoms, or similarities in your dreams to conclude.



Interpretation is one of the most important techniques of psychoanalytic therapy. In this technique, the therapist tries to piece together all the information they might have drawn from the patient. They bring all the information together and try to connect all dots. Most information is drawn from body language, emotional expressions, and other forms of verbal and nonverbal communication.

This technique can be done with or without the patient. All thought the best results can be found in the therapist and the patients sitting together to interpret the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs uncovered from the unconscious mind. These interpretations then help in recognizing the problems and finding proper interventions for them.

4.Free Association

Free association is one of the most used psychoanalytic techniques. The best part about free association is that it doesn’t restrict the patient in any way. You are free to talk about anything you feel like, you can deviate from one topic to the other, and there is no direction required.

In free association, psychoanalytic therapy focuses on something called the stream of consciousness. This means that you are just supposed to follow where your thoughts are taking you and simply express everything that comes to your mind without filtering your thoughts. This technique helps in bringing unconscious thoughts, fears, shame, and motivations to light.

Benefits of Psychoanalytic Therapy

There are many benefits of the psychoanalytic therapy approach. Some of them can include;

Increases Self-Understanding: This approach to therapy can help you gain a deep understanding of yourself, where you can know what emotions you experience and how they affect your daily life.

Helps in Personal Growth: Psychoanalytic therapy helps you connect the dots between your past and present, allowing you to find your way to grow in your personal life as well as in other areas of your life.

Better Emotional Health: This approach can also help you clear out your mental and emotional clutter, making way for better vibes and experiences. Plus, when you know your unconscious mind, it can help you find the right balance and tools to help deal with life’s challenges.

Better Self-Exploration: Psychoanalytic therapy can also help you explore your dreams, childhood memories, and quirks to know who you truly are, what you like, and how your mind works. This allows you to understand the “why” behind your feelings and behaviors.

How Does Psychoanalytic Therapy Work?

Psychoanalytic therapy works by understanding the client’s mind. The therapist and the client work together (almost like detectives) to figure out the layers of the mind. The discussions in the therapy might go beyond the surface level, and dig deeper into the dreams, childhood memories, and personal experiences of the client.

Understanding the mind is a gradual process, so it might take time and patience from both — the client and the therapist end — for it to work effectively. The therapist might use in-depth conversations and other psychoanalytic techniques to analyze and heal the client from their past experiences.

Psychoanalytic therapy isn’t a quick solution but takes a more methodical approach to understanding and addressing the underlying issues presented by the client during therapy.

How to Get Started?

To get started with psychoanalytic therapy, here are some things you need to keep in mind;

1. Find the right therapist. Seek a specific therapist, for example, one who specializes in psychoanalysis. Only the right therapist with the right experience can help you figure out how to understand your unconscious mind.

2. Ask for recommendations. You can also consult your regular therapist or reach out to your local mental health provider to seek recommendations for psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic therapy.

3. Schedule an appointment. Start your therapy journey by scheduling an appointment with the therapist. You can take this opportunity to get to know your therapist, their qualifications, their experiences with the approach, and what techniques they use. It can be a good initiation opportunity.

4. Open up about your experiences. When you’re talking to your therapist, discuss the reasons you’re seeking therapy, and try to gauge your compatibility with the therapist you’ve chosen. This is an important aspect of therapy. If you’re not compatible with the therapist, then the therapy might not work as effectively as it should.

5. Allow yourself to be guided. Instead of thinking of your therapist as an instructor, think of them as a guide, one who can help you explore yourself; your mind, memories, and experiences you’ve stored in your mind. Allow yourself to be open with your therapist.

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about psychoanalytic therapy techniques helpful, informational, and interesting. Do share this blog with your friends and family or those who are thinking of taking psychoanalytic therapy d so that they know what to expect during therapy.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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