People ask, why seek psychoanalysis with a Training and Supervising Analyst in Washington DC? Many people, even skilled mental health professionals, don’t know what this designation means.
So, in this FAQ I will answer these questions and more.
A Training and Supervising Analyst has been vetted, and appointed, to provide training and supervising analyses to psychoanalysts-in-training. All psychoanalysts-in-training are required to undergo a personal psychoanalysis. In most institutes, individuals pursuing psychoanalytic training are required to seek out an approved, Training Analyst for their training analyses.
Psychoanalysis, and psychodynamic psychotherapy, makes three major assumptions:
A) Factors outside of our awareness drive our behavior. This is called the, “dynamic unconscious”. Here are some examples:
B) People are capable of growth throughout their life spans. People are always learning, maturing and changing. Therefore, psychoanalysts believe that change is always possible.
C) Psychoanalysts recognize and prize the uniqueness of each individual. As a group, psychoanalysts take a wholistic approach. We are not interested in categorizing or classifying people. Rather, we are concerned with knowing each patient as fully as we can.
Read more about these three major psychoanalytic assumptions and how psychoanalysts work.
Read more about what happens when you call, me?
Virtually all psychoanalysts enter psychoanalytic training with an advanced degree in mental health. Most are licensed within their professional discipline. In fact, often, those entering training have substantial prior experience within their discipline.
In addition to, often, very experienced psychotherapists, the cohort may include what are called, “scholar” or “academic” or “research” candidates. These academic candidates do not engage in clinical work. Rather, they seek out psychoanalytic training in order to apply this knowledge to their area of scholarly inquiry. They are valued members of the group because they contribute greatly to the academic rigor of the learning experience.
For the clinical candidates, there are three cornerstones of training: a Training Analysis with a Training and Supervising Analyst, clinical supervision with a Training and Supervising Analyst, and extensive coursework. Each will be addressed in turn.
Most psychoanalytic candidates report that their training analysis not only helped them to become better analysts, but also better spouses, parents and adult children.
I should note, parenthetically, that anyone who would like a psychoanalysis but who can not afford it should seriously consider seeking a psychoanalysis with a psychoanalytic candidate. Here’s a list of psychoanalytic clinics where you might inquire as to where you can find a reduced fee psychoanalysis.
Academic candidates differ from clinical candidates in two ways. First, in many institutes, they are required to write a graduation paper in which they apply analytic theory to their academic work. Second, because they do not do clinical work, they do not undergo clinical supervision. However, they are required to complete the coursework and to undergo a training analysis.
As you can see, this training which typically follows a rigorous graduate or medical school preparation is quite demanding. In fact, psychoanalysts are among the most highly trained mental health professionals.
This varies between institutes. Until recently, those institutes that the American Psychoanalytic Association accredited required that all Supervising and Training Analysts were board certified. This is still true in many, though not all, institutes. Here in Washington DC, board certification is no longer required. However, those of us who have opted to pursue board certification have found it to be an enriching path.
To be appointed as a Training and Supervising Analyst, nearly all institutes require “clinical immersion”. These psychoanalysts must document that they have devoted a substantial part of their practice (usually about half) to the conduct of psychoanalysis for many years.
Similarly, in most places they must demonstrate that they have contributed to the education of psychoanalytic candidates within their institute.
The American Board of Psychoanalysis is the only board that certifies psychoanalysts from the array of mental health disciplines.
Here’s what they say about the certification process:
“Certification is a voluntary process by which a psychoanalyst demonstrates, through blind peer review, a mastery of the basic knowledge and skills necessary to practice the profession of psychoanalysis. It can be an important developmental experience. To be vetted and endorsed by a group of Certified psychoanalysts who have no personal or institutional relationship with the applicant provides a meaningful affirmation of the applicant’s analytic identity.”
A committee of very senior psychoanalysts, selected from across the nation, implement the certification exam. This process entails a written and oral examination. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in working with men and women. Also, they must convey that they know how to end a successful psychoanalysis.
Patient confidentiality is of paramount concern to the certification committee. Therefore, all patient material is carefully, de-identified. Beyond this, the applicant attends the interview incognito; the interviewers know neither the name nor the institutional affiliation of the applicant. In this way, not only does the applicant receive and objective evaluation (free from biases about ones institute), but also patient confidentiality is fully protected.
A board certified, psychoanalyst has demonstrated their competency to senior members of the profession; they have been carefully vetted. Although this level of certification is available to all psychoanalyst members of the American Psychoanalytic Association only a tiny fraction pursue it.
The American Board of Psychoanalysis provides oversight; they certify that psychoanalysts are competent to provide very high quality psychoanalysis. Those designated Fellows (FABP) by the American Board of Psychoanalysis have successfully completed the education and experience requirements of the board. They have undergone additional evaluations and tests designed to assess their competencies, including, rigorous write-ups and oral examinations. Certification addresses their competency as a psychoanalyst.
If you seek out a board certified, psychoanalyst, you can be confident that their work has been rigorously evaluated by their peers.
I found the process of certification to be incredibly enriching. The preparation process entailed a considerable amount of reading, thinking about the conduct of psychoanalysis and consulting with colleagues. For me, this process led to a continued deepening of my clinical skills. As for the interview process, I was fortunate to have a panel of extremely talented psychoanalysts who provided a valuable perspective on the work. I appreciated the opportunity to have my clinical work independently, vetted.
Finally, while I greatly valued my training here in Washington DC, I found it useful to hear what very senior analysts elsewhere had to say about my work.
At many psychoanalytic institutes, but not all, board certification is a requirement for becoming a Training and Supervising Analyst.
Many mental health professionals seek out psychoanalysis because of the robust benefits that it offers to any psychotherapist. Not only is psychoanalysis helpful in deepening one’s understanding of oneself, it offers to opportunity to deepen one’s understanding of one’s patients. For these reasons, many psychotherapists seek their own psychoanalysis.
Often, they find the psychoanalytic experience so enriching that they decide to embark on the journey of psychoanalytic training. Once accepted into analytic training, they are required to seek psychoanalysis with a Training and Supervising Analyst. For this reason, it is optimal to start psychoanalysis with someone who has ALREADY earned this designation.
A Supervising and Training Analyst has demonstrated a high level of expertise, therefore, you may consider working with them. However, there are many talented people who do not have this designation.
Definitely. In addition to supervising psychoanalytic candidates, I supervise mental health professionals. Many are very talented.
However, one advantage to working with a psychoanalyst is that if, at some juncture, you and your psychoanalyst feel that psychoanalysis would be useful to you, you can deepen the work without switching psychotherapists.
In selecting someone who is not a psychoanalyst, it is important to seek out someone who has had postgraduate training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy OR who has attended a psychoanalytically-oriented, doctoral program such as George Washington University, Adelphi, NYU, City College and others. That said, personally, I’ve supervised some very gifted psychodynamic psychotherapists who did not have this sort of training.
I’ve written about this for the Washington Post. Here are a few articles:
You can find a description of my credentials, here.
If you are considering psychodynamic psychotherapy, psychoanalysis or supervision, feel free to call me. 301.656.9650.