Psychotherapy is a mental health treatment technique practiced by marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, clinical psychologists and psychoanalysts. The goal of this technique is to assist patients in overcoming their psychological and emotional difficulties in order to achieve contentment and happiness in their lives. Most forms of psychotherapy use spoken conversation to achieve these goals, but other forms of communication, such as the written word, artwork, dance, hypnosis, narrative story or therapeutic touch are also utilized. Effective therapy requires open and honest communication between the patient and the clinician, but it is more than “just talking to someone.”
Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, is a more intensive, in-depth form of psychotherapy practiced by psychoanalysts which takes longer to achieve because it goes much deeper into a patient's psychological make-up to uncover the unconscious sources of their difficulties. In addition, the relationship between the psychoanalyst and the patient and the analysis of patient's dreams differentiates psychoanalytic treatment from psychotherapy. Psychoanalysts process other issues that patients bring into the treatment room such as relationships with family members, significant others and/or peers that cause them distress. However, some degree of overlap does occur between the work that psychotherapists and psychoanalysts perform.
Training to become a psychoanalyst is significantly beyond the training of marriage and family therapists and psychologists. A psychoanalyst is required to undergo personal analysis of four times per week for three to four years, must analyze three patients four times per week for 2 to 3 years with weekly supervision, and must enroll in four years of coursework before writing a dissertation ? a research study, a theoretical paper or a detailed case study of a patient the candidate has analyzed. This comprehensive training gives a psychoanalyst additional professionals skills to identify conflicts and work in depth with patients to achieve the goals they desire by helping them understand and transform their emotional infrastructure.