Consumer Information

What You Should Know About Licensed Psychoanalysts and Their Services


What is psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is the observation, description, evaluation and interpretation of dynamic unconscious mental processes that contribute to the formation of an individual’s personality and behavior in order to identify and resolve unconscious psychic problems that affect interpersonal relationships and emotional development, to facilitate changes in personality and behavior through the use of verbal and nonverbal cognitive and emotional communication, and to develop adaptive functioning.

Practitioners, called psychoanalysts, may use verbal and non-verbal communications to uncover the unconscious blocks that may be affecting the individual’s behavior and personality. Psychoanalysts treat a range of conditions including anxiety, depression and phobias.

What services do licensed psychoanalysts provide?

Psychoanalysts use assessment instruments and mental health counseling and psychotherapy to identify, evaluate and treat dysfunctions and disorders for the purpose of providing appropriate psychoanalytic services. Psychoanalysts use the relationship between the patient and the analyst as an essential tool to promote emotional growth and healthy functioning through changes in the patient’s character.

How do licensees provide these services?

Psychoanalysts are trained in various schools of psychoanalytic thought and the training is reflected in the psychotherapy practice of the licensee. They typically work with individuals for an extended period of time, although some licensees use psychoanalytic techniques to provide shorter-term treatment. Psychoanalysts may provide such services as:

  • Helping a patient identify the cause of fears or behaviors that are disrupting the patient’s life and develop strategies to increase healthy functioning
  • Working with individuals, couples or families to identify and resolve unconscious mental processes that are affecting interpersonal relationships
  • Using dreams and symbolic processes to help the patient to recognize conflicts, motivations or behaviors

Where do licensed psychoanalysts practice?

Psychoanalysts may provide services in a private practice alone or with other licensed psychoanalysts or in other settings authorized to provide professional services. A licensed psychoanalyst may collaborate with other professionals to ensure services that meet the patient’s needs.

In cases of sustained treatment of a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism), the patient must be evaluated by a physician. The psychoanalyst must consult with the physician regarding the illness, and the physician must advise whether any medical care is needed.

What credentials do licensed psychoanalysts have?

These professionals train in both psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Other than those psychoanalysts licensed under the special provisions established in law for those already practicing when the new law came into effect, each New York licensed practitioner has a master's or higher degree and has also completed a course of training in a psychoanalytic institute chartered by the Board of Regents and registered by the State Education Department that must include at least 1,350 clock hours of instruction or the substantial equivalent of such a program. The training program must include coursework in the theory, practice and technique of psychoanalysis, personal psychoanalysis, supervised analysis, and supervised clinical experience. Psychoanalysts are required to pass a State-approved exam and to have completed at least 1,500 hours of clinical experience in psychoanalysis under supervision of a qualified, licensed mental health professional. Those licensed under the special provisions for those practicing when the licensing law took effect meet other standards specified in law and regulation.

Individuals who have completed their education requirements may hold a limited permit to practice the profession while they work to complete the exam and/or experience required for full licensure. These individuals practice under supervision at a specific site.

Who may practice psychoanalysis?

Only licensed psychoanalysts, and certain others exempt under the licensing law, may practice the profession. None of these exempt individuals, however, may use the title of licensed psychoanalysts unless they are also licensed in psychoanalysis.

Are licensed psychoanalysts allowed to prescribe drugs or perform “invasive” treatments?

No, these professionals may not prescribe or administer drugs or use any invasive procedure. Examples of “invasive procedures” include surgery, therapeutic ultrasound, and electroconvulsive therapy.

Will my health insurance cover the services provided by a licensed psychoanalyst?

To determine whether mental health services provided by a licensed psychoanalyst are covered by insurance, review your plan’s benefits with your insurance provider.

What records does a licensed psychoanalyst retain?

Your patient records typically contain your full case history. The therapist must keep these records for 6 years or until the patient turns 22, whichever is longer. Although there are exceptions, your records are generally confidential, unless you approve their release. Ask your therapist about any exceptions. If you want a copy of your records, provide your therapist with a written request. You may be charged a reasonable fee to offset the cost of providing copies.

What questions should individuals with disabilities ask about accessing services?

Ask such questions as whether the service location is physically accessible (curb cuts, ramps, restrooms, etc.), as well as whether there is a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD), parking for people with disabilities or homebound care.

How can I locate a licensed psychoanalyst?

When seeking help, consider the types of available therapies and ask if the practitioner has been trained specifically in the therapy being practiced.

  • check with people you know for recommendations
  • your primary care provider may be able to direct you to a psychoanalyst
  • professional psychoanalysis organizations may have a list of members and their specialties
  • the yellow pages of your telephone book may include a listing of "psychoanalyst" or "psychotherapists"

The State Board for Mental Health Practitioners cannot direct you to a psychoanalyst.

Verifying a New York license:

New York licensed psychoanalysts must display a current New York registration certificate; this certificate lists the professional's name, address, and dates of the registration period. Licensed psychoanalysts must reregister every three years to practice in New York. Some professionals also display their original New York license, diploma, licenses from other states, and membership certificates. You may verify an individual's license and registration on this site.

Last Updated: June 23, 2009