No, therapy apps won't kill Freud

No, therapy apps won't kill Freud

Freudian psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioural therapy have been at war over the soul of therapy. Can the rise of technology deliver a winner?

Tanmoy Goswami
Tanmoy Goswami

Exactly four years ago, I walked into Anamika's clinic in a shopping complex in Noida for the first time. I was in a bad place. My ex-therapist, who had helped me through an acute crisis, had left for the US. I'd been cut off from therapy for six months and was in the middle of a harrowing relapse. Anamika came well-recommended, but I despaired at the thought of having to narrate my life story all over again to a new therapist.

Two things during our first meeting gave me hope. One, Anamika explained to me therapist-client confidentiality and its limits. And two, she walked me through the kind of therapy she specialised in. None of my earlier therapists had done either.

On October 22, 2018, I made an upbeat entry in my Twitter journal:

So, new therapist is making an impression. 1) Unlike previous therapists, she explained which school of therapy she practises ("psychoanalysis, classical Freudian") 2) seems a bit more structured than earlier therapists without giving the appearance of it.

However, beyond being impressed by Anamika's professionalism, I didn't attach any special meaning to her trade – 'classical Freudian psychoanalyst'. My goal was to somehow find a way to survive, I didn't care how. Neither did I know that through that one disclosure, my new therapist was both declaring her loyalties and drawing me into the battle for the soul of her profession:

'Ancient' psychoanalysis v 'modern' cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).

Much ado over Freud

At the time I started seeing Anamika, I had only a fuzzy understanding of the various kinds of psychotherapy and the discipline's contested history.

In the four years since, as my sessions with Anamika repeatedly pulled me back from the brink and helped me learn that many of my issues stemmed from my 'internalised parents', I delved deep into that contest and its fascinating plot twists, and why it matters to every therapy user.