Columbia University Medical Center
Top Ranked in the Nation in Research Funding
and Patient Care
U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals
National Institutes of Health
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

Psychoanalytic Clinic

What Is Psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is a modern, effective treatment for healing emotional pain and promoting personal growth. Here are a few of the many problems psychoanalysts can help:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • low self-esteem
  • repeated disappointments or difficulties in intimate relationships
  • sexual problems
  • lack of success at work
  • trouble with anger
  • indecision and emotional paralysis
  • diminished capacity for pleasure
  • creative "blocks"

Psychoanalysis is based on the principle that many factors guiding a person's feelings, thinking, and action remain outside his or her conscious awareness. These unconscious emotional processes influence one's current relationships, work life, sense of self, and ability to feel pleasure.



Together the patient and the analyst embark on a detailed exploration of the patient's inner life. Through the relationship with the analyst, one grows more aware of how one feels and interacts in other relationships. Patterns of feeling, thinking and acting that have developed over years are re-experienced emotionally and understood. By bringing to light the way one feels and related to others, the choices one has made, and the reasons for these choices, psychoanalysis frees a person to see new ways of reaching his or her goals, and opens the way to more satisfying relationships and pursuits.

Born of Freud's discoveries about the human mind, psychoanalysis has evolved into a contemporary and relevant therapy. Enriched with extensive new developments in psychoanalytic understanding and technique since its origins a century ago, for many, it is the treatment of choice.

Research in Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is a treatment and as with all treatments it is important to conduct systematic research into how the treatment works and for whom it is most effective. People applying for or undergoing psychoanalytic treatment at the Columbia Center have the opportunity to participate in a range of studies that include: 1) determination of what kind of problems are best treated by psychoanalysis and how these problems change in the course of treatment, and 2) neuro-imaging studies that show how the structure and function of the brain actually changes through the course of the psychoanalytic treatment. More information is available on our website where the research studies and opportunities to participate are more fully described.

Psychoanalytic Treatments

In psychoanalysis, the patient and the analyst meet four or five times weekly. In the safety of the analytic situation, the patient learns to explore his or her inner world- thoughts, feelings, memories, sensations, visual images, fantasies, dreams, and experiences of the analyst, among others. The analyst listens to the patient and guides the patient in listening to his or her own story and in understanding connections between seemingly disparate experiences, so that patient and analyst may gain a coherent understanding of the patient's inner world.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy may differ in a variety of ways from psychoanalysis, but is based on the same principles. The patient and therapist generally meet from one to three times each week.

Child And Adolescent Treatments
Psychoanalytic treatments with children and adolescents are based on the principles described above, and treatments are modified to suit the younger patient. For example, play is the main way in which children communicate their feelings and worries. The analyst may use play to help the child understand and cope better with his feelings and behavior problems.

Infancy And Parenting Programs
Mothers' discussion groups, developmental play groups, and individual parent-infant consultations are offered to parents and their children from birth to three years of age. These programs are an application of psychoanalysis to parenting and child development issues related to bonding, sleep, eating, toilet training, limit-setting, temper tantrums, gender identity and trauma. Addressing problems early in a child's life may prevent more serious difficulties later, and may enhance the pleasures of parenting.

Combined Techniques
When indicated, medications may be combined with psychoanalytic treatments. Medication may be needed to relieve debilitating symptoms of anxiety and depression which may hinder psychoanalytic progress.

The Psychoanalyst

At the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, the psychoanalysts are experienced clinicians who are undergoing their advanced training in psychoanalysis. They are either MD's trained in Psychiatry or Clinical Psychologists with PhD's. Candidates accepted for training must meet high professional standards. Private referrals to graduate analysts are also available.

The Columbia Center For Psychoanalytic Training And Research

Since its establishment in 1945, The Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research has provided psychoanalytic treatment to people in the greater metropolitan area. As part of the Department of Psychiatry of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Center is an integral part of the scientific environment enriched by experts from the biological, psychological, and social sciences.

As part of Columbia University, the Center shares an academic tradition that enables intellectual inquiry and exploration to flourish.

Seeking A Consultation

The treatment service of the Psychoanalytic Center offers diagnostic consultations and psychoanalysis at very low fees. Treatment is provided in the offices of psychiatrists and psychologists throughout the metropolitan area. If psychoanalysis is not the best treatment at this time, referrals for other forms of treatment can be arranged.


For further information about consultations or for applications, please call the
Psychoanalytic Center at (646) 774-8625.

Eric R. Marcus, MD

Chair, Admission and Treatment Service
Sabrina Cherry, MD

Telephone: (646) 774-8625


hora interior