Psychoanalysis is a multi-faceted discipline and clinical practice that continues to develop beyond the structures formulated by Freud. It can look very different depending on who the practicioner is. Some things are constant. Psychoanalysis continues to concern itself with unconscious factors in everyday life, or rather, bringing to light what it is we're doing that we don't know we're doing. In this vein, attention to the transference, or how one's past shapes one's participation in the present, remains part of the process. In today's psychoanalysis, intellectual insight is not enough. Change is a deeply felt experience—one that is not from the outside in, but from the inside out.
Contemporary psychoanalysis is not isolated, but seeks convergence with disciplines such as neuroscience, gender theory, dis/ability studies, and philosophy. It is also informed by other therapies, including somatic experiencing, family systems and cognitive behavioral, to name a few.
In New York, the influence of Stephen Mitchell is strong. The "relational" psychoanalysis that has grown up around his thinking has an emphasis on authenticy, multiplicity and relationship. Additional influences for me are Winnicott, Fairbairn and others who identify themselves as object relations theorists working within the Independent Tradition.
In addition to traditional learning and apprentice-like supervision, psychoanalysts must be analyzed. Unlike other mental health practitioners, we have been subjects of the therapy we offer—that is, we can relate to what people go through in treatment and do not approach the process from a far-off place. Hopefully having gained greater self-knowledge in our own analyses, we are aware, or strive to be aware of our contribution to the dynamics within relationships, including those with analysands. This quality is valuable in ways that might not be immediately evident.