Psychoanalytic training

What is psychoanalytic training?

Dr. Lynn Friedman, a psychologist and a Training and Supervising Analyst describes psychoanalytic training.

Most psychoanalysts are highly trained psychotherapists prior to embarking on analytic training. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule. This post examines analytic training for psychotherapists and for academic scholars.

Analytic training for psychotherapists

Psychoanalysts are among the most highly trained mental health professionals. Admission to psychoanalytic training is competitive and psychoanalysts are carefully selected. In general, applicants have considerable psychotherapy experience prior to entering training. At institutes accredited by the American Psychoanalytic Association applicants must have completed professional training and be licensed as a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, social worker or in a related discipline. Over the last several years, there has been a trend in which mental health professionals have pursued analytic training mid-career. Consequently, many psychoanalytic candidates are already highly successful psychotherapists before entering training.

Applicants submit to several clinical interviews in which their background, experience and personal maturity is assessed. Those psychotherapists with the requisite training, experience and maturity, are admitted to analytic training.

Typically, training spans 5-12 years, though this varies widely across psychoanalytic institutes. It entails three primary components:

  • a training psychoanalysis
  • the psychoanalysis of three patients under close supervision of senior psychoanalysts
  • extensive course work on theory and technique

A training psychoanalysis is completely confidential.  Psychoanalytic candidates meet with their psychoanalyst, four or five times a week. The psychoanalysis typically takes place over a period of many years – generally 5-12 years.  The second component, the treatment of patients under close supervision entails psychoanalyzing a minimum of three patients. These treatments span several years, and meet four or five times each week; taking place under regular (typically, weekly) supervision of a specially approved, Supervisory Analyst.

The third component, coursework, typically spans the duration of the candidates training – during the first four or five years, coursework is intensive (generally about 5 hours a week); it focuses on theory, technique, human development, character formation and therapeutic mechanisms of action.

Psychoanalytic Training for Academicians and Scholars

Many psychoanalytic institutes also accept scholars into analytic training. These scholars typically undergo a psychoanalysis – just like their psychotherapist counterparts. Beyond this, they take classes along side of clinicians. However, they do not see patients.  Often they are called, “scholars” or “research candidates”. Scholars may derive real benefit from this experience. Similarly, it can be very stimulating for psychoanalytic candidates to have a scholar in their cohort.

These scholars are generally academicians in disciplines that overlap with psychoanalytic inquiry including, educators, philosophers, art historians, English professors and others.

If you are interested in becoming trained as a psychoanalyst but do not live in the Washington DC area, you can find psychoanalytic training throughout the United States, and internationally. Also, you can learn more about training through the American Psychoanalytic Association.

If you are interested in psychoanalytic training and are seeking psychoanalysis from a Training Analyst, feel free to give me a call. Similarly, if you are a layperson who is thinking about psychoanalysis, I welcome your call: 301.656.9650.


Dr. Lynn Friedman

Dr. Lynn Friedman, Ph.D., FABP, is a Clinical Psychologist, a Supervising and Training Analyst, and a Clinical Supervisor in full-time, private practice. She provides evaluation, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as supervision to psychoanalysts-in-training and other mental health professionals. Beyond this, she is a board certified, psychoanalyst who teaches at Johns Hopkins University and the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis.

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I provide psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, clinical consultation, supervision & executive coaching. If you are seeking consultation from a psychologist, psychoanalyst, in DC, feel free to call me: 240.483.3530.