Psychoanalytic therapy involves analyzing root causes of behavior by exploring and analyzing the unconscious mind and the conscious mind’s relation to behavior. Today’s theories and therapies are extensions and extrapolations of the work of Sigmund Freud and use multiple strategies to help the individual understand the function of his or her mind. However, modern approaches to psychoanalytic therapy still share the common ground of unconscious motivation, a particular focus centered on in-depth personality exploration and change.
Psychoanalytic therapy does not always have to be grounded entirely in Freud’s work, as many therapists consider themselves students of theorists like Jung or Alfred Adler. Effective analysts approach their work with the expectation of learning from their patients by discovering unconscious thoughts and feelings that may affect conscious behavior and, in our case, contribute to substance abuse and addiction.
The concept of anxiety is a key component of psychoanalytic therapy. Considered a state of tension, anxiety motivates individuals to behave in a manner that alleviates it. The actions by which individuals address and mitigate their anxiety is through defense mechanisms, and they determine the impact this tension has on their lives. Defense mechanisms are processes used by people to help them cope with their anxieties in order to keep them from becoming overwhelmed. The most commonly identified defense mechanisms are repression, denial, projection, transference, and displacement.
Psychoanalytic therapy is an effective tool in working with those suffering from addiction. Its focus on helping patients understand the subconscious processes that drive them to abusing alcohol or drugs allows them to confront hidden emotions and feelings and helps them find more effective measures for coping with them.