What is Modern Psychoanalysis?

If you ask someone “What is psychoanalysis?” chances are they’ll think of Sigmund Freud, who is famous for inventing and developing the psychoanalytic approach. His work to articulate the psychoanalytic theory of motivation and the structure of the unconscious has had profound influence in the field of mental health.

What many people don’t realize is that since the field of psychoanalysis was established in the early 1890s, it has been developed into several different directions and disciplines. One being the field of “Modern Psychoanalysis” – which we focus on here at BGSP. Every decision and action you make starts below the conscious part of your brain – your unconscious. All psychoanalysis starts with the unconscious, and assumes all human behavior is unconsciously motivated. Modern Psychoanalysis techniques are aimed at allowing the ego to direct aggression outward in a productive way.

Those who followed in Freud’s footsteps refined the field, Hyman Spotnitz played an important role. Spotnitz pioneered modern psychoanalysis in the 1950s. He asserted that the nuclear problem in severe narcissistic disorders was not due to repressed sexual content, but to bottled-up aggression. Spotnitz spearheaded the modern psychoanalytical approach with schizophrenic patients, helping them to address the true problems within their unconscious. Spotnitz’s repeated advice to clinicians he trained was to just get the patient to “say everything”. Unlike other psychoanalysts, Spotnitz worked psychoanalytically in groups. This strong support of group therapy now covers a wide range of community group therapy practices.

Modern psychoanalysis is a dyad in that it requires two people to play an active role – the analysand (patient) and the analyst (therapist). The aim of modern psychoanalysis is to cure patients by freeing them of maladaptive and destructive repetitions that dominate their lives and behavior. To liberate patients from recurrent emotional states means that they will have a fuller range of feelings, be more in touch with objective reality as Freud hoped, be successful in love, work, and life. Other types of psychoanalysis include Classical (aka Freudian) analysis, Jungian analysis, and interpersonal psychoanalysis.

Interpretation is also different for modern psychoanalysis. It is more about emotional communication, rather than intellectual communication. A modern psychoanalyst would join the patient’s reality, not just interpret it. Putting things into words is the first step to making changes.

Modern psychoanalysis determines session frequency based on what is best for the patient and can be less than once a week if needed. The frequency of treatment is worked out directly between the analyst and the patient. We meet patients where they are as some are more regressed than others and do better with more infrequent sessions.

Modern psychoanalytic and psychodynamic studies are applicable to a wide range of current career paths. One of the most prominent positions for those with a clinical master’s degree from our school is that of a licensed mental health counselor, or LMHC. With a graduate degree in mental health counseling, you will have a clinical advantage to expand your career and better understand both yourself and the people you interact with. The modern psychoanalytical approach in our master’s degree program helps focus professionals on providing inclusive techniques for all patients and teaches the most effective ways to treat a wide range of metal health issues.

Also offered at BGSP is the doctoral program. A doctorate of psychoanalysis is called a PsyaD. In our unique PsyaD program, students can earn their doctorate and become a certified psychoanalyst simultaneously. Many go on to work in a clinic or start their own practice as a psychotherapist.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, we hope it helped you better understand Modern Psychoanalysis. Still have questions? Email us! info@BGSP.edu


  • https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/psychoanalysis
  • https://pacja.org.au/2016/09/a-brief-history-of-psychoanalysis-from-freud-to-fantasy-to-folly-2/
  • https://www.cmps.edu/what-is-modern-psychoanalysis
  • https://nygsp.bgsp.edu/about/about-modern-analysis/
  • Spotnitz, Hyman (2004). Modern psychoanalysis of the schizophrenic patient: Theory of the technique. NY, NY: YBK Pub Inc. pp. preface. ISBN 0-9703923-6-2.