At the core of the psychotherapy is the relationship with the therapist. They work together to explore troublesome and often longstanding conflicts that can disturb and limit vitality in the present. In identifying and becoming aware of such patterns it is possible to understand and begin to change them.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is usually called a relational therapy. This means that the relationship between the patient/ client is the most important and life changing (mutative) aspect of the therapy. The therapeutic relationship in psychanalytic therapy often, if possible, mirrors past relationships in a persons life. This is called a transference of the past to the present. It means that the therapy is an opportunity to explore earlier experiences of relationships and how they might have affected the way we live our lives in adulthood.
All relationships have this unconscious goal of reliving past relationships but ‘working through’ difficulties in the safe and secure environment of psychotherapy frees us up to relook at what was helpful and unhelpful about our past without the fear of rejection. Psychoanalytic psychotherapists are helped in their sometimes difficult work by an ethical structure of regulation by organisations such as UKCP and BACP.