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Who is a psychoanalyst?

Published on 4/28/2019


Anyone, regardless of whether they have had any training or not, let alone formal psychoanalytic training, can refer to themselves as a psychotherapist or psychoanalyst.

Because of this fact, we advise persons seeking counseling, psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis to scrutinize the credentials of the individual they seek assistance from.

There are several psychoanalytic training centers in the United States, with varying requirements for graduation and with different theoretical orientations.

The analysts of the Dallas Psychoanalytic Center are all graduates of Psychoanalytic Institutes or Centers affiliated with the American Psychoanalytic Association, an affiliate of the International Psychoanalytic Association, the original psychoanalytic association, founded in 1908.

The Board of Professional Standards of the American Psychoanalytic Association oversees all of its component institutes to insure that they maintain the highest standards in both the selection and training of candidates, as well as the quality of the curriculum.

Individuals seeking admission to an institute of the American Psychoanalytic Association must have an advanced degree--an M.D., a Ph.D, or a LMSW-ACP. All must have had considerable experience in the mental health field. They must come highly recommended by previous teachers, supervisors, and colleagues who have had professional dealings with them. In addition, the prospective students undergo in-depth interviews with members of the faculty in which it is determined that they are psychologically sound, principled individuals with high ethical and moral standards.

Psychoanalysis continues to attract individuals with a genuine interest in why people think, feel, and behave as they do. The essential characteristics of the student of psychoanalysis are those of curiosity, coupled with a love for scientific scholarship, and a talent for the art of exploring and understanding human interactions, motivations, and meanings.

The curriculum of institutes of the American Psychoanalytic Association comprises of three interrelated and synergistic components: the student's personal psychoanalysis, the academic program, and supervised clinical work with patients in psychoanalysis.

The purpose of students' own analyses is to help them with overcoming any personal problems they may have, and to help them deal with any personality factors which would interfere with their conducting the best possible psychoanalyses. In addition, by undergoing the treatment that they themselves are going to practice, it affords the future analyst a greater empathy with patients and an intimate understanding of the psychoanalytic process.

The academic program is given over a five year period and takes the form of seminars. The courses include normal human development, psychoanalytic technique, issues of analyzability, theory (both of psychoanalytic concepts and of all forms of psychopathology), dreams, clinical and continuous case conferences, and problems in analysis.

After the students have been in personal analysis for usually a year and a half, and following the first semester of classes, generally they are permitted to take their first patient into analysis. These patients are carefully selected as being appropriate for a beginning analyst, keeping in mind that all students have already had experience in treating patients. The student's work is discussed weekly with a senior supervising analyst. If the student's work with the patient proceeds satisfactorily he or she is allowed to take another case, with a different supervisor. Ultimately the student must have a minimum of three cases with three different supervisors, although a greater number than that is more usual. Candidates remain in personal analysis to discuss and analyze any problems that occur conducting their patients' analyses.

Upon the completion of the academic program, their personal analysis, and when the faculty has determined that the student can independently and competently conduct a patient's psychoanalytic treatment, they are graduated. On average, this requires eight years.

Dallas Psychoanalytic Center
PO Box 670218 | Dallas, Texas | 75367-0218
Phone: 214-471-5524