Psychoanalytic psychotherapy utilizes psychoanalytic theories as a frame for the formulation and understanding of the therapy process. It is a treatment that in many ways is quite similar to psychoanalysis, although often considered less intense. Many people live life searching for something impossible, pursuing dreams derived from and intended to erase or reverse disappointments and frustrations of childhood. This kind of pursuit can create psychological problems and result in the failure to perceive real possibilities that might currently be available. The treatment focus is on bringing these hidden (unconscious) disturbances and conflicts into consciousness to increase self-understanding and deepen insight into the emotional issues which underlie the presenting disturbances and difficulties.
In addition to psychoanalysis, most analysts also practice intensive and brief psychotherapy, sometimes prescribing medication. Many treat couples, conduct family or group therapy sessions, and work with various populations. Because psychoanalysts are provided with the most thorough education available in normal and pathological development, their training informs and enhances the quality of all their therapeutic work.