“I work with people who have symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, and with people who feel as though they are not moving forward in life in the ways they had hoped. If you feel frustrated over the inability to find satisfying relationships or a gratifying career, I may be able to help.”

When people come to me, they have usually tried everything they can think of to address their problems. What we can assume, then, is that there are some things that are out of a person's awareness. By understanding those areas that could not be known, new options become available.

In therapy, we learn in the most current and vital way about aspects of ourselves and our relationships that operate and affect us, but have remained out of our view. Therapy allows us to reclaim parts of ourself and approach life and relationships as a more fully integrated and aware person.

Joan Sacks Lentz, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

Dr. Lentz has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 25 years and is located in downtown Minneapolis. She specializes in treating adults and older adolescents for a variety of problems, including depression, anxiety, stress, self esteem and relationship, academic, behavioral, and career issues.

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Treatment Philosophy

The way I will work with you has to do with the kind of listening that I do, which informs what I will respond to in our session. What I ask of you is that you talk as freely as you can about whatever comes into your mind. The premise is that wherever you start and whatever you say has the common denominator of you, and therefore, wherever you start will lead us where we need to go.

I expect that you will have difficulty saying everything that comes into your mind. There are reasons that certain thoughts are kept out of our awareness or that approaching certain topics brings us to a standstill. It is human nature to want help, but at the same time to have fears about change and even progress. And so, what you do, as well as what you have trouble doing, is a meaningful part of the process.

I anticipate that you will bring in the things that are pertinent to our work together, without preparation or homework. In other words, I only expect you to bring yourself and then I use my training to help us to get to where we need to go. I am not a silent listener. But I will be listening to you for a good bit in a way that is different from a regular conversation.

As I have suggested, I focus closely on the immediacy of our session. The past is very much alive in all of us, shaping much of what we experience in the present, but we will come to understand its relevance through the window of the present, as it emerges in an organic way. Our early experiences and relationships have impacted our view of ourselves and how we relate to others, and it necessitated finding ways to protect ourselves, which may not be useful to us anymore. This is often the source of our symptoms and problems.

Many of these feelings about our self and ways of functioning are not in our awareness and so they cannot be altered or even known by force of will or by reading a self-help book. That is why it takes seeing a therapist who is trained to know what to listen for in a session, how to intervene, and how to help bring about a transformation that may be experienced as greater freedom, more self-confidence and richer and more satisfying relationships and life.

Specialties & Issues

  • Anxiety and Panic
  • Depression
  • Career Dissatisfaction
  • Academic Underachievement
  • Relationship Issues
  • Self Esteem
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Anger
  • Grief
  • Divorce

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Ph.D., M.S., Clinical Psychology
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee

Internship, Clinical Psychology
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota

B.A., Psychology
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Advanced Training

Graduate Analyst
Minnesota Psychoanalytic Institute
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Program
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Advanced Credentials

Training and Supervising Analyst
Minnesota Psychoanalytic Institute
American Psychoanalytic Association

Certified Analyst
American Psychoanalytic Association

Professional Activities

Visiting Scholar (2019) Washington/Baltimore Psychoanalytic Institute.

Invited Member:
Center for Advanced Psychoanalytic Studies (2015-)
Princeton, New Jersey

Invited Member:
Committee on Psychoanalytic Education (2018-)
American Psychoanalytic Association

Member, Committee on Preparedness and Progress (2014-2018)
American Psychoanalytic Association

Progression Chair (2017-2019)
Admissions Chair (2004-2015)

Member: Education Committee, Progression Committee, Curriculum Committee
Minnesota Psychoanalytic Institute
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Board Member (2003-2008)
Psychoanalytic Foundation

Founding Member, First President
Society for Psychoanalytic Studies
Minnesota Chapter of Division 39
American Psychological Association


Licensed Psychologist
License #LP0170
State of Minnesota


Minnesota Psychoanalytic Institute
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program
Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Psychiatric Residency Teaching
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, Minnesota

Psychiatric Residency Teaching
Hennepin-Regions Psychiatric Training Program
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Clinical Assistant Professor (1981-1986)
Program in Health Psychology
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Instructor (1979-1980)
Health Care Psychology
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Publications & Presentations

"Resistance Revisited: Disillusionment, Hierarchies and the Brain" (2020) American Journal of Psychoanalysis

"The Interplay of the Two Hemispheres of the Brain in Psychoanalysis" (2019)
American Journal of Psychoanalysis

"Free Association (A Response)" (2018) The American Psychoanalyst

“Recognizing the Patient's Criticism of the Analyst” (2017)
Psychoanalytic Review

“Reconsidering Resistance” (2016), Psychoanalytic Psychology

Winner, Dieperink Writing Prize (2016 and 2017)
Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

“The Unsung Psychoanalyst: The Quiet Influence of Ruth Easser” (2006). Mary Kay O’Neill, author.
Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association

Mothers and Daughters (2004) Panelist, Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

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