Begin the journey of a lifetime

Psychoanalysis can take you to places you’ve never been before. It offers the opportunity to explore the most alive and creative aspects of yourself. Many people experience the connection with their analyst as one of the most personal and vital relationships in their lives. The self-knowledge that can develop out of this kind of working partnership may lead to deep and long-lasting change.

Everyone’s analysis is different. But there are certain things that tend to be true. Analysis goes beyond the immediate problem that may bring you to it and uncovers deep underlying unconscious currents. To reach these deep currents, you may meet with your analyst multiple times each week. Through the journey of this exploration, it is possible to find not just help but meaning. More than anything else, psychoanalysis can potentially offer change through a new experience of yourself.

If this type of journey interests you, please call us for a consultation. You will be able to speak with a seasoned, qualified analyst about what you are looking for. The Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California trains licensed clinicians to become psychoanalysts. Because they are in training, you may be able to work with one of these clinicians at a reduced fee in locations throughout the Bay Area.

For more information, call PINC Referral Service at (415) 288-4052.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Psychoanalysis is an intensive form of psychotherapy that facilitates profound change. Psychoanalysis is based on the idea that much of what troubles us and makes us unhappy is unconscious, often the result of the detrimental coping patterns in response to difficulties in our early years. A successful psychoanalysis depends on the development of an extraordinarily intimate partnership between the patient and the psychoanalyst. The process often but not always takes place with the patient lying down on a couch, which allows for freer thoughts and associations. Meetings with the analyst often occur with a greater frequency than other forms of therapy, usually but not always, three to five times a week.

People seek out psychoanalysis for many different reasons. Some want relief from deep emotional pain and to break life-long, self-defeating patterns. Others seek a life of greater purpose and satisfaction. Another common reason for beginning psychoanalysis is to improve relationships and learn how to maintain a stable partnership. Psychoanalysis can help you make more effective use of your talents, build self-esteem, tolerate a wider range of emotions, have more satisfying and full experiences, understand yourself in a more intricate and sophisticated way, and face life’s challenges with greater freedom and flexibility. In a comparison of outcomes from different forms of therapy (Knekt et al, 2011; Huber et al, 2013), psychoanalysis has been shown to be most effective in the long term. Psychoanalysis is proven (de Maat et al, 2010) to be effective in creating significant symptom relief and in reducing personality-related problems in a way that continues for years following treatment.

Psychotherapy is an umbrella term to describe many forms of talk therapy. Psychoanalysis is one form of psychotherapy. Other forms of psychotherapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), emotion-focused therapy, brief therapy, and family therapy. Like all psychotherapies, psychoanalysis has specific parameters that are both different from other forms of psychotherapy and that define how psychoanalysis is practiced. While most forms of psychotherapy could be compared to snorkeling on or just below the surface of the ocean, psychoanalysis is deep-sea diving, exploring the depths of the origins of conflicts, fears and anxieties in a safe, confidential and structured relationship with a psychoanalyst.

For some people, other psychotherapies are enough to manage feelings around interpersonal issues or anxieties. For others, psychoanalysis provides a way to understand your own motives in a broader, deeper way. It can be truly life-enhancing when you are willing to dive into the depths of your psyche to understand more about our own humanity and, as a consequence, discover so much more about humanity in general. Psychoanalysis can be truly life-saving when you are gripped by deeply destructive patterns of behavior and can see no other way out.

Psychoanalysis has been proven to be an effective, long-term therapy in so many different situations that it is difficult to answer this question based on a particular treatment goal. The patients who benefit the most from this form of therapy seem to be curious about the underlying causes of their symptoms or distress, are able to set aside sufficient time in their in their schedules to consistently participate in the treatment, feel a sense of urgency regarding the need for change, and are also able to be patient in obtaining results. While studies (Knekt et al, 2011; Huber et al, 2013) show that psychoanalysis can produce deeper and longer-lasting results than other forms of therapy, symptom relief is often not as immediate as other forms of psychotherapy. Psychoanalysis can stir up difficult emotions. If you are looking for a long-lasting remedy and are able to make the significant time investment for a deep exploration, feel free to contact our Referral Service professionals to explore whether psychoanalysis is for you.

Candidates are experienced, licensed professionals who choose a minimum of 4 years of additional training so that they can become certified psychoanalysts. As part of their training, they are required to meet with some patients 3 or 4 times a week, under the guidance of a supervisor. If you contact the Referral Service looking for a more intensive type of therapy, you might decide after talking with one of our interviewers that psychoanalysis could be the right choice for you. If money is a concern, you would then have the option of choosing psychoanalysis with a candidate, because he or she is in training and may be willing to see you for a reduced fee. It is important to keep in mind, however, that, although the Referral Service can help you think about how much you might be able to afford for psychoanalysis, ultimately it will be up to you and your candidate-analyst to settle on a fee.


de Maat, S., de Jonghe, F., de Kraker, R., Leichsenring, F., Abbass, A., Luyten, P., . . . Dekker, J. (2013). The current state of the empirical evidence for psychoanalysis: A meta-analytic approach. Harvard Review Of Psychiatry, 21, 107-137. doi: 10.1097/HRP.0b013e318294f5fd

Huber, D., Henrich, G., Clarkin, J., & Klug, G. (2013). Psychoanalytic versus psychodynamic therapy for depression: A three-year follow-up study. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 76, 132-149. doi: 10.1521/psyc.2013.76.2.132

Knekt, P., Lindfors, O., Laaksonen, M. A., Renlund, C., Haaramo, P., Härkänen, T., & Virtala, E. (2011). Quasi-experimental study on the effectiveness of psychoanalysis, long- term and short-term psychotherapy on psychiatric symptoms, work ability and functional capacity during a 5-year follow-up. Journal of Affective Disorders, 132, 37-47. doi: 10.1016/ j.jad.2011.01.014

Knekt, P., Lindfors, O., Renlund, C., Sares-Jäske, L., Laaksonen, M. A., & Virtala, E. (2011). Use of auxiliary psychiatric treatment during a 5-year follow-up among patients receiving short- or long-term psychotherapy. Journal of Affective Disorders, 135, 221-230. doi: 10.1016/ j.jad.2011.07.024

Sugar, M., & Berkovitz, I. H. (2011a). Male adolescent treatment outcome: A case series of eight men treated with psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Adolescent Psychiatry, 1, 169- 178. doi: 10.2174/2210677411101020169