First and foremost, psychoanalysis is a theory of human potential that is based on the belief that individuals are often unaware of what contributes to their feelings and behaviors. Psychoanalysis is anchored by the belief that the unconscious not only motivates thoughts and feelings, but it is through the understanding of its dynamics that a person can live a life less burdened by the past. Psychoanalysis also emphasizes the relationship between analyst and patient. Oftentimes, it is through the re-experiencing of feelings from the past with the analyst that leads to decreased symptoms and meaningful change.
Procedurally, psychoanalysis differs from psychotherapy in that the patient will typically come three to four times a week and is given the task of trying to freely say whatever comes to mind, no matter how difficult or seemingly insignificant -- Dreams, fantasies, blocked creativity, unacknowledged talents, and exploration of old relationship patterns all become part of the analytic journey. While undertaking a psychoanalysis can be rigorous, patients frequently find it to be a deeply meaningful and worthwhile experience.