Training to become a psychoanalyst
As you would expect, recognised psychoanalysts undergo extensive training to become qualified. As Australia’s governing body, APAS offers a comprehensive program designed to take candidates on a journey to becoming a qualified psychoanalyst. Successful completion leads to the candidate being awarded the title Psychoanalyst, as recognised by the International Psychoanalytical Association. Unlike many training programs, there’s no fixed timeframe to becoming a psychoanalyst. Some candidates complete their training in five years (the minimum time it takes to finish all components), while others take longer.
Most people train alongside their daily work and family commitments, so we’re as flexible as possible on timings. The course itself is part-time, with most seminars taking place in the evenings, although there are three interstate weekend seminars per year.
APAS training is made up of three complementary essential components. Together they result in a comprehensive and inspiring training experience that puts candidates in the best position to begin to offer psychoanalytic help to others.
The support you need
Training is overseen by The Student Progress Committee (SPC), who will pair you with a progress advisor to offer support in all aspects of training. Regular reports on progress from the theoretical and clinical seminar leaders, as well as from the supervising analysts in ones ongoing analytic cases will be provided. While training with us candidates gain full access to PEP-web, an online resource for psychoanalytic journal articles, papers and publications and have access to an excellent library in their home branch.
The three components of training are:
Personal analysis ↓
To understand the unconscious minds of others, you must first understand your own. That’s why throughout their training, candidates undergo their own analysis and this will need to be in place before the training begins.
Personal analysis is essential to give candidates a deep understanding of their own unconscious mental life, helping them work through any potential problems or difficulties that may interfere with their ability to work effectively as a psychoanalyst. Analysis will be for a minimum of four or five 50 minute sessions per week, with an analyst of your choice who will work with you to agree on a schedule and fee.
Your personal analysis must be carried out with a ‘training analyst’. If your current analyst is a member of APAS, but not officially classed as a training analyst, it’s possible for them to be given the status of a training analyst. Contact your nearest APAS branch for more details. Personal analysis forms the core of the educational experience, while the curriculum helps candidates conceptualise these experiences. Through supervised clinical work you will put these learnings, both personal and theoretical, into practice.
Seminar series ↓
Psychoanalytic theory and practice are fully explored in our series of intensive seminars – Infant Observation, Theoretical and Clinical. They enable candidates to critically engage with the theories underlying clinical practice, and support the development of therapeutic skills.
The first year of training begins with an infant observation where the candidate observes a family in their home with a newborn, taking part in weekly seminars to discuss their observations. At the end of the year, a point at which both student and educators review the candidate’s aptitude and suitability for psychoanalytic work, permission is given for the candidate to find a first patient.
These seminars, held weekly, are led by an experienced analyst, have a focus on developments in psychoanalytic theory and technique, such as those advanced by Kleinian, Independent and Contemporary Freudian schools of thought. They enable students to explore clinical material with other candidates and seminar leaders.
These seminars held weekly include:
- Ethical issues
- Assessment for analysability
- Clinical studies of depression, anxiety, narcissism, borderline states and perversion
- The theory and practice of dreams
- Psychosomatic conditions
- Technical matters (including transference, countertransference, projective identification and enactment).
Supervised psychoanalysis ↓
The supervised analysis of patients is a crucial part of training, offering the chance to bring together theoretical and practical learning, and apply it in a real analytic setting. When the Student Progress Committee (SPC) thinks you’re ready (usually after the first year of training), you will be able to start treating your first patient. You will meet them for one-on-one 50 minute sessions, four or five times a week, followed up by weekly meetings with your supervisor to work through problems and questions you may have after consultation. Once the SPC and your supervisor are confident in your ability, you will be able to take on a second patient.
You will be able to apply for associate membership of the Australian Psychoanalytical Society once you have been treating your first patient for at least two years, and your second for at least a year. The expectation is that you see both patients for at least two years and continue with treatment after qualifying until their analysis is complete.Sometimes it is recommended that a third patient is seen.
Who can apply? ↓
We encourage applications from people of all ages and backgrounds. Most of our candidates already have clinical experience of some kind, and we usually require prior experience of personal psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy before they apply for full training. It is usually also a requirement to have completed an undergraduate degree, though this doesn’t have to be related to psychoanalysis.
It takes a long time to become a psychoanalyst, so there is an advantage in starting training when you are young. That said, experience dealing with patients in a healthcare environment is also an advantage, and we train many psychologists, social workers, medical practitioners and psychiatrists.
The training is best suited to engaged, energetic individuals who are curious about the world, the power of the unconscious mind, and the internal lives of themselves and others. You will also need to have the desire to work in a clinical setting, within a therapeutic framework that develops at a deep level, over a long period of time.
We assess every application on its merits, and you will be invited to a preliminary interview, where your readiness to apply, including your previous experience of psychoanalysis and your clinical experience, will be considered and discussed.
How to apply ↓
To apply to train with us, get in touch with the chair of the admissions/selection committee in the state you wish to apply (see contacts for each branches at the bottom of the page). If eligible, you will be invited to attend a preliminary interview with an analyst, where you can discuss your suitability to apply.
Sometimes, we meet enthusiastic candidates who we feel aren’t quite ready to apply. When this happens, we clearly explain the thinking behind our decision and discuss this with the applicant, who will be welcome to apply again in future.
On application, you will be invited to attend two or three lengthy personal interviews, involving challenging in-depth exploration, before the admission/selection committee make their final decision to offer you a place in writing.
If you are unsuccessful in your first application, you will be offered feedback, and given the chance to re-apply, but no sooner than a year from the original application date, and not more than three times in total.
Our application process is rigorous because we want to make sure that every candidate is serious about training, and has the personal aptitude and capacity to qualify as a psychoanalyst. If you are considering applying, and want to learn more about the course or application process, reach out to your local chairs of Admission.
Email Dr Gil Anaf
Email Dr Adele Carmady
Course fees ↓
To promote accessibility, we try to keep fees as low as possible. Students on our full training program pay an annual fee (currently $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the Branch) to cover administrative costs.
The main cost of training will be the personal analysis, and will be agreed on an individual basis between the student and their training analyst. Students also pay a weekly fee to the supervisors of their clinical work, again, this is negotiated between supervisor and student.
As part of the course, there are three interstate weekends each year, at least one being in the student’s home state. These training weekends provide opportunities to meet and work with students and analysts from the other branches of the Australian Psychoanalytical Society. Students will need to make their own travel arrangements and pay their own costs.