Relational psychoanalysis is a contemporary approach to psychoanalytic theory and practice that emphasises the importance of relationships in shaping and understanding human experience. Unlike classical psychoanalysis, which focused primarily on the individual’s internal dynamics, relational psychoanalysis views the therapeutic relationship as a central tool for healing and growth.
In relational psychoanalysis, the analyst and the analysand engage in a collaborative exploration of the person’s subjective experiences, past and present relationships, and unconscious patterns of relating. The emphasis is on understanding how the client’s early experiences and relational patterns impact their current difficulties and relationships.
By bringing a focus on the relationship and the interplay between analyst and analysand, relational psychoanalysis aims to enhance the analysand’s self-awareness, promote self-reflection, and deepen their capacity for authentic connections with others. This approach recognises the intricate and reciprocal nature of human relationships, and the ways in which they shape our identities and well-being.
Relational psychoanalysis has been influential in expanding the scope of traditional psychoanalytic theory and practice, and it continues to evolve and integrate ideas from other disciplines such as attachment theory, neuroscience, and sociology. Ultimately, its goal is to help individuals develop more fulfilling and satisfying relationships, both within and outside the therapy room.