The psychoanalytic method of treatment was developed by Sigmund Freud. Although some modern psychologists attach little significance to the theories of Freud, his treatments have been used for over a century, which leads one to conclude that there must be something of value in psychoanalysis, or it would have been abandoned long ago.
Psychoanalysis is intended to promote self-acceptance within the patient, provide insights into his/her abnormal behavior and strengthen the role and functioning of the ego. Since the ego is the mediating factor between the id and the superego, it is very important for PTSD patients and others inclined toward abnormal behavior to develop a healthy ego. The cost of this treatment is exorbitant, its clinical applications may be necessary for years on end, and so it takes a tremendous commitment by both the therapist and the patient to make psychoanalysis effective.
Free Association and Catharsis is a part of psychoanalysis in which a patient, while in a relaxed state, verbalizes anything that crosses his/her mind including memories, physical sensations, random thoughts and wishes. The goal of the therapist is to seize upon the source of these random expressions and trace them to the root of patient’s inner conflicts. This therapy can be effective; it is well established in the counselor’s community, and very ethical. However, the patient may encounter resistance, blocking him/her from sharing their associations
Dream analysis attempts to interpret events and symbols from the patient’s dreams, which may be latent (hidden) in meaning. This part of psychoanalysis has fell out of favor with most psychologists. It is not as accepted in mainstream psychology, likely because dream symbolism may differ from person to person and its meaning is highly subjective.
Transference occurs when the patient begins to ascribe the traits of individuals from his/her own past to the therapist. This can go both ways, with the therapist experiencing counter-transference as the patient reminds him/her of significant others from his/her own past. There is a great potential for unveiling suppressed memories here, as well as undergoing revelations regarding the causes of abnormal behaviors and relationships. However, there is also the possibility of unethical behavior as the normal lines of professionalism between counselor and patient are blurred.