Dr.  Eric Anders
Psychoanalyst
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Verified by Psychology Today
International Psychoanalytical Association
American Psychoanalitic Association
San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis
Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis

My Treatment Approach:

One of the most important things necessary for deep, self-reflective therapy is the presence of a respectful, emotionally engaged, and caring therapist.  My approach is to engage people on several levels: addressing the current situation while also getting into early life experiences, helping people explore both conscious and unconscious parts of themselves, and invariably working with the underlying dynamics that block progress toward healing and wholeness.

I approach each individual based on the unique and specific circumstances of his or her life and personality.  Since I don't need to work with insurance companies, I am not interested in diagnostic categories as found in the DSM or psychology or psychiatric literature.  Every therapeutic situation is highly unique since the therapist, the person coming for help, and how we work together are all very unique.

Some basic questions about psychoanalytic psychoanalysis answered:

What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?
Will psychoanalytic psychotherapy help me?
What will psychoanalytic psychotherapy involve for me?
Who is a psychoanalyst?

What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?
Psychoanalysis is a therapy based on the observation that individuals are usually deeply unaware of many of the most significant factors that determine their emotions and behavior, and the most significant factors that cause them to suffer.  These unconscious factors sometimes manifest in the form of recognizable symptoms, and at other times as troubling personality traits, difficulties in work or in love relationships, or disturbances in mood and self-esteem.

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Will psychoanalytic psychotherapy help me?
Some people come to therapy because of repeated failures in work or in relationships, brought about not by chance but by unconscious self-destructive patterns of behavior.  Others need therapy because the way they are—their character—substantially limits their choices and their pleasures, especially with respect to love relationships.  Others seek therapy definitively to resolve psychological problems that were only temporarily, partially, or superficially resolved by other approaches.

Because psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a highly individualized treatment, people who wish to know if they would benefit from it should seek consultation with an experienced psychoanalyst.  The person best able to undergo psychoanalytic psychotherapy is someone who, no matter how incapacitated at the time, is basically, or potentially, a sturdy individual.  This person may have already achieved important satisfactions, but is nonetheless significantly impaired by long-standing symptoms: for example, depression or anxiety, compulsions, obsessions, eating or sleeping disorders, sexual or relational incapacities, or physical symptoms without any demonstrable underlying physical cause.

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What will psychoanalytic psychotherapy involve for me?
Psychoanalytic treatment is a partnership between client and therapist, with the goal of both working toward awareness of the underlying sources of the patient's difficulties—not simply intellectually, but emotionally. 

For traditional psychoanalysis, the client comes at least three times per week, lies on a couch, and attempts to say everything that comes to mind.  This situation, called 'the analytic setting', facilitates the emergence of aspects of the mind not as accessible to other methods of treatment.

For psychoanalytic psychotherapy, the client comes once or twice per week and may or may not lie on the couch.  The frequency of the treatment has little or nothing to do with he severity of the difficulties with which the client is having to cope.  It almost invariably has everything to do with what the client is willing and able to do.  Greater frequency, Dr.  Anders believes, can be the more gentle approach.

As the client and therapist talk, hints of the unconscious sources of the patient's current difficulties often gradually begin to appear—in certain repetitive patterns of behavior, in the subjects which the client finds hard to talk about, and in the ways the client relates to the therapist.

The therapist helps elucidate these difficulties for the client, who refines, corrects, rejects, and adds further thoughts and feelings.  During the treatment, the client wrestles with these insights, going over them with the therapist, and experiencing them in daily life, in fantasies, and in dreams.

Client and therapist join in efforts not only to modify life patterns and remove incapacitating symptoms, but also to expand the client's freedom to work and love.  Eventually the client's life—his or her behavior, relationships, and sense of self—changes in deep and lasting ways.

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Who is a psychoanalyst?
Legislation regarding who may call herself or himself a "psychoanalyst" varies from country to country, and state to state. This unfortunately means that in some places anyone, even a person with only very little or the wrong kind of training, may use the title. It is therefore important to know the practitioner's credentials before beginning treatment.

In California, where I trained and practice, candidates accepted for training at a state-accredited psychoanalytic institute must meet high ethical, psychological, and professional standards. These candidates come from one of the following professions: physicians who have completed a residency program in psychiatry; licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists (MFTs), or social workers who have completed a doctoral program in their fields, or hold a clinical masters degree in a mental health field where such a degree is generally recognized as the highest clinical degree; and, finally, academics with Ph.D.s in the humanities or social sciences, who have done significant research into psychoanalysis within their academic field, and who have also completed several years of a clinical internship.

I was the latter type of candidate when I started my training, having received my Ph.D. in English, and having written my doctoral research on the theories of Freud and their relationship to deconstruction, feminism and gender theory. Click here for more on California's research psychoanalyst law. The spirit of this law returns psychoanalysis to its original vision of being a profession separate from psychology and medicine, and it recognizes the in-depth clinical training of Californis State accredited institutes like the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis.

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1910 Olympic Blvd., Suite 360 • Walnut Creek, CA 94596 • 925-297-5177