What is Psychoanalysis?
In the same way that a child’s body grows and develops skills and abilities, their emotions and social skills develop as well. In both cases, most children follow a series of ages and stages. Often, one skill is dependent on the successful accomplishment of a preceding skill. For example, a child needs to learn how to hold a pencil and scribble on paper without tearing it before she can learn to write. Psychological development, like physical development, follows a fairly predictable path. Unless, it doesn’t.
Sometimes, something, or a series of incidents, interrupts the child’s psychological development. In many cases, the child’s emotional and social development is slowed or thrown off rack. It’s not a problem that the child will “grow out of,” or "get over.” The child needs help understanding what happened, and help learning to use acceptable responses and behaviors in response to it, otherwise the child may never reach their full potential. This is where psychoanalysis can help.
As a psychoanalyst, I studied understanding human behavior intensely- working to understand what motivates people, why they think, what they do, and what roadblocks they set up for themselves. Psychoanalysis helps people get out of their own way. An analyst who works with children uses play as the framework to help the child overcome the misunderstanding that has stopped their development.
Whether the child plays with dolls or paints pictures, the content of the play story allows the analyst to address the child’s issues indirectly and in a non-threatening manner. I carefully guide the child to create imaginary scenes which are actual replicas of the trauma that the child has endured. Through play, the partnership between me and the child allows him/her to work out a more positive solution, freeing the child to continue to grow and develop normally.
Furthermore, over the course of many months, the child and the analyst develop a relationship that mirrors the troubled relationship in the child’s life. Working through it with me helps the child repeat the solution at home or wherever the matter occurred.
The child’s parents are the most important people in her life, and parents play a vital role in successful child psychoanalysis. The parents’ information and observations, as well as their interactions with the child are key to our analytical success. The teacher sees the child in a situation where neither I, nor the parent does. Teachers can provide important information in terms of what holds a child’s attention, and what does not, as well as how the child interacts with peers. Of course, the details of a child’s case are always held in confidence.
Adolescents can benefit greatly from psychoanalysis as well. They are obviously farther along on the path to full adulthood, and generally prefer discussion to play therapy, but the process is the same. The adolescent, and I, through talking, create a safe place to explore the problem and its surrounding components. We then build possible alternative responses to the situation, try them on, and even replicate the triggering relationship. The resolution of our crisis in the comfort of my office allows the adolescent to become comfortable with new responses “outside.”
Psychoanalysis has been the treatment of choice for children with emotional and behavioral adjustment issues in Europe, Latin America, and South America for years. It is not as common in the United States, and I’m not sure of the reason for that. It may be that psychoanalysis is considered prohibitive because of the intensity of treatment. Most child and adolescent patients are seen between three to five times a a week, potentially for multiple years. When calculating the expense and the time commitment, it is important to include the value to the child. Psychoanalytic treatment will change the child forever.
If you would like more information about my practice, or psychoanalysis in general, please visit my website: www.drboscan.com, or visit the American Psychoanalytic Association websit at: www.apsaa.org, the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), or the Association for Child Psychoanalysis(ACP).