We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Free Association?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Free association is a method of psychological analysis in which a patient speaks or writes all of the thoughts that come into his or her mind; the thoughts may be related or not, but one leads in some way to the next. It may or may not be possible to follow a pattern of thinking when practicing free association, which is ultimately the point of the practice. Generally, this method of analysis will begin with a word, phrase, or question, and the person will allow all the thoughts regarding that original word to come to the surface without censoring or analyzing them.

This type of psychoanalysis was developed by Sigmund Freud and his colleague Josef Breuer. It was intended to be used as an alternative to hypnosis, and to allow people to make connections in the awake, conscious mind that were previously difficult to access, or only available through hypnosis in the unconscious mind. Freud found that this process of free association often allowed people to make discoveries and uncover repressions without fear of judgment.

This technique is sometimes still used in psychological treatment today, though it is somewhat less common. Some people practice free association on their own, such as through journaling. This may be similar to stream of consciousness writing, in which one writes anything and everything that comes to mind, whether it seems to be related or not. This differs from the psychological technique in that it usually does not begin from a specific question or phrase.

Writing thoughts down when attempting this practice can be very helpful, because a person can then go back and read over the process at a later date. It may then be possible to learn even more from the associations that were made, once they can be considered more deeply. Some people find it possible to visualize the connections they make when free associating, and to see how some things might be related, while others require the help of a trained psychologist to make the connections.

Regardless of the method chosen, free association can be a helpful technique for those who are feeling stuck in a similar thought pattern. Beginning with this process in psychotherapy can make it easier to share information with a therapist as the process goes on. It can also be a way to discover hidden feelings or beliefs that a person was not even aware he or she had.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By DentalFloss — On Aug 15, 2011

@afterall- I took a writing class that mentioned writing with free association techniques, and my teacher said it can even be a good idea for wannabe writers to start every day writing down whatever comes into their heads to fill a page or so, then see what they have. Supposedly, if you do it long enough, you stop just having random junk and start getting good ideas and cohesive thoughts just from writing stuff on paper without direction. It sounded like a great idea, though I wasn't interested enough to stick with it.

By afterall — On Aug 14, 2011

Free association is used a lot in writing as well, to help writers master "stream of consciousness" writing. Usually it takes the form of an exercise giving you some sort of basis for writing and telling you to write whatever comes to mind on that topic for a certain amount of time. Others might say to write about an event, or a dream, or something, again for a specific amount of time.

While writing is not exactly the same as therapy, I find it really therapeutic to write this way, and it helps give me good ideas.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.