Is psychoanalysis right for me?

rightAlmost anyone suffering from psychological symptoms can benefit from some type of psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy. A consultation with a psychoanalyst would determine whether a person would benefit most from psychoanalysis or psychotherapy.



Listen to Dr. Hook’s audio on psychoanalysis:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If a troubled person is capable of having and using insights and is emotionally sturdy enough to tolerate intense, difficult feelings that can arise, he or she is likely to be able to undertake and benefit from analysis. Some patients are more able to make use of psychotherapy to understand and change their lives.

Psychoanalysis typically consists of meeting three to five times per week and lying on a couch. Through an emotional reliving of one’s life narrative and conflicts, the intensity of treatment permits the deepest and longest lasting changes. Changes affect all aspects of life and leave the patient with the tools to maintain those changes.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy uses the same theoretical principles and methods of exploration but with less intensity, meeting one to three times per week face to face with the therapist. For some people this is a more manageable yet still highly effective method of treatment.

Psychoanalysis may be used in conjunction with other treatments such as psychopharmacology, couples counseling or family therapies.

Many studies demonstrate that psychotherapy with medication is more effective than medication alone. And some studies even show, for some problems, psychotherapy alone is more effective than medication. These findings underscore the human need to talk about issues in a safe and private environment.

Who is a Psychoanalyst?

Even before being trained as psychoanalysts under the auspices of the American Psychoanalytic Association, psychoanalysts have had rigorous and extensive clinical education either as psychiatrists (M.D.), psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) or social workers (M.S.W. or C.S.W.).

Candidates accepted for training at an accredited psychoanalytic institute also meet high ethical, psychological, and professional standards.

Training consists of classes in psychoanalytic theory and technique, a personal analysis, and the psychoanalysis of at least three patients under the close and extended supervision of experienced analysts. The total post-graduate training in psychoanalysis takes five years or more.

How to Find a Psychoanalyst

To find a psychoanalyst, you may contact the American Psychoanalytic Association, or consult the association’s On-Line Membership Roster at Fee structures vary, and financial assistance is often available. A number of training institutes and/or societies have clinics with sliding fee scales.

The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) was founded in 1911. Membership includes about 3,500 individual analysts and also accredited training institutes and affiliate psychoanalytic societies throughout the United States.


PART 1: What Is Psychoanalysis?

View the PDF brochure “What is Psychoanalysis?” by the American Psychoanalytic Association

More information

For more information, contact the psychoanalytic institute or society nearest to you:
or contact: American Psychoanalytic Association
309 East 49th Street, New York, New York 10017

Phone: (212) 752-0450
Fax: (212) 593-0571
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This material was written by Gail M. Saltz, M.D., co-chair, Committee on Public Information.
All rights reserved



“Dr. Hooks is one of the very few therapists in the United States who has specialized training in treating people with shopping addictions. Warm, empathic, and highly skilled, if you are an overshopper or have a loved one who is, I couldn't recommend Dr. Hooks more highly.”

April Lane Benson, Ph.D.
Editor: “I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self” (Aronson, 2000)
“Dr. Penny Hooks demonstrates her commitment to a deep understanding of the issues her patients face – she really walks her talk. Penny is personally committed to exploring the best, most innovative and effective treatments and programs for people facing significant issues in their lives. My particular interest is in women who compulsively overshop, and I’m delighted to say that this is an area Penny and I share a common and deep interest in.”

Jill Chivers
Creator of the world’s first online program for women who compulsively overshop, ‘My Year Without Clothes Shopping’
“Dr. Hooks has been my colleague at The Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, I have seen her teach and supervise trainees. Dr. Hooks is an excellent teacher and trainer of therapists, she has treated many patients successfully and efficiently and she is one of the few psychoanalysts in Houston who is certified to treat both adults and children.”

Ruth Rosines, L.C.S.W.
Faculty, The Center for Psychoanalytic Studies
“Working with Dr. Hooks is an exhilarating learning experience. Almost any time – no, every time, I am working on sorting things out in my mind and I share it with her, her response hits the target. I end up thinking – Yes! That’s it! Yeah! Thank you Penny Hooks!”

Ann Weiss, Director of Bo’s Place
Bo’s Place is a free, non-profit bereavement center offering grief support services for children, families and adults, and provides education and resources for those who assist people in grief.
Dr. Penelope Hooks, a Houston psychiatrist, works with patients who have shopping addictions. “It's a need that's not being met," she said. "And also, it's a defense against recognizing the need.”

Houston Chronicle
December 12, 2012
“Dr. Penelope Hooks is unsurpassed in child, adolescent and adult psychoanalytic treatment. She has a deep understanding of human development, and shows a remarkable capability of patience and persistence to assist her patients in working through impasses that stymie forward movement. She represents a model of the highest ethical practice, and in every instance her patient comes first.”

Arthur J. Farley, M.D.
President, Texas Academy of Psychiatric Physicians & Clinical Director of the New School in the Heights
Go to top