PSP Curriculum

First Year

The first year has three tracks, each a year-long course or set of courses: Theory, Technique, and Reading Freud.

Each class is 75 minutes in length. Classed are Tuesday evenings from 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM, 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM, and 7:00 PM – 8:15 PM. 

1. Theory Track

In the theory track, we draw from the following models including, but not limited to, Freud, Ego Psychology, Klein, Winnicott, Kohut, and Relational. Our focus involves a series of ideas that we believe inform psychoanalytic thinking whether they are contextualized within psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. Our courses include:

  • Playing with the Unconscious
  • Early Relationships
  • "Isms" in Psychoanalysis
  • Language, Symbol and Meaning
  • Thinking and Working Psychoanalytically

2. Treatment Track

In the treatment track we cover a set of ideas that are central to both psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, although they are operationalized in different ways in the two therapies. Clinical examples are drawn from both forms of treatment. The courses provide an introduction to a psychoanalytic way of working.

  • Role, Task and Boundary
    • The structure and structuring of the therapeutic situation; the conduct of the first session; boundary issues
  • Experience of the Clinician
    • The clinician's stories and their contribution to an evolving professional identity
  • Transference and Countertransference
    • From modern ego-psychological and modern Kleinian perspectives
  • Therapeutic Action
    • The agenda, or intended means of influence, in a variety of therapeutic approaches: modern ego-psychological, Kleinian, self-psychology, American relational/interpersonal/intersubjective

3. Third Track Reading Freud

This course addresses the full scope of Freud's work, chronologically, with selections from the major works, in three trimesters: Discovery 1895-1910; The Years of Maturity 1911-1920; and New Perspectives 1920-1939. The structure of the course is inspired by the course on Freud as organized by Jean-Michel Quinodoz at Geneva, Switzerland over several years, and documented in the text, Reading Freud (New Library of Psycho-Analysis, Routledge, New York, 2005). In addition to short lectures and discussion of selections from the papers and books, focusing on applications of Freud's ideas to clinical practice and various fields of knowledge, we attend to biography and history, that is, to how the emergence of psychoanalysis from Freud was accompanied by works from other contemporaneous analysts and thinkers. Further, several overarching concepts such as the Oedipus complex, the unconscious, transference, literary or artistic creation, narcissism, femininity, masochism, and the theory of conflict between life and death drives are followed over the development of Freud's work. Also, we show where in Freud we find the seeds of the present-day flowering of psychoanalysis, and along the way we clarify some points at which the field has gone beyond Freud. Additional insight into the nature of this course can be found by looking at Quinodoz's Reading Freud. (Full year)

Second Year

The second year approaches psychoanalytic working, thinking, and understanding from four vertices: Case Conference, Case Conference Discussions, Kleinian Perspectives, and Development Over the Lifespan. The class schedule is the same as in the first year.

1. Case Conferences

  • The students attend three case conferences of seven sessions each highlighting close clinical process and technique in a psychoanalytic psychotherapy and/or a psychoanalysis. The class focuses on the moment-to-moment psychological transactions as depicted in the small and not-so-small choices made by the patient and clinician as the hour unfolds. When a clinical or technical moment arises meriting further study, a clinical paper demonstrating technique is assigned.

  • The presenters are, when possible, class members. The psychotherapy case is preferably a twice-weekly treatment. The case conferences have different teachers. In addition, the teachers for the case discussion classes sit in on the case conferences during the tenure of their teaching.

2. Case Conference Discussions

  • The subsequent discussion class examines the same material from an overview position, placing greater emphasis on psychoanalytic formulation. The clinical hour(s) just presented are studied within the larger context of the ongoing treatment, highlighting dynamic themes, transference-countertransference dynamics, culture, and other influences on the patient's functioning. Readings are selected to further develop larger conceptual and technical issues raised in both classes including psychopathology and broader dynamic themes.

3. Kleinian Perspectives - Klein 1 and Klein 2

Over twenty weeks broken into two sequences of eleven and nine classes, respectively, this seminar course provides a thorough introduction to central concepts of Kleinian psychoanalysis, including theory and technique. Clinical presentations are used to augment conceptual understanding and more firmly integrate technique with clinical process

  • The first segment (Klein 1): introduces students to the development of Melanie Klein's play technique and her resulting discoveries of children's early object relations. Klein's understanding of the emotional world of infant as the foundation for all later experiences is explored with specific attention paid to "Second Skin" phenomena as a defense of catastrophic anxieties.
  • The second segment (Klein 1): addresses the concepts of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions and their characteristic relationships to objects, anxieties, and defenses. There is a particular focus on mourning and the tolerance of loss, as opposed to manic denial, as central to the growth of the personality.
  • The third segment (Klein 2): we begin with a consideration of the "clinical fact;" how we know what we know as we work with patients. The seminar continues with an introduction to the central Kleinian concept of unconscious phantasy, and in addition study her theoretical paper, "Envy and Gratitude'" providing the seminar with a final overview of her theory.
  • The fourth segment (Klein2): we present the concepts of symbol formation and container contained, projective identification as communication, and translation of these concepts into clinical practice.

4. Development Track - The Span of Life: Psychoanalytic Perspectives

Over the course of nineteen weeks, students explore the interrelationships between psychoanalytic theory and human development over the lifespan. Starting with the question, "What do we mean by 'development' in psychoanalysis?" this seminar focuses on the determinants of and ways of understanding maturational processes and psychological structures over time. Drawing on the combined expertise of multiple instructors and a discussion facilitator, this course applies a specifically psychoanalytic lens to questions of continuity and variation throughout life and, implicitly, to psychological growth and decline.

More specifically, this course brings a developmental perspective to such topics as parenthood, infancy, the pre-oedipal years, the oedipal child, gender identity development, latency both as a theoretical construct and from a clinical perspective, adolescence, late-adolescence, adulthood, mid-life, and the elder years. From an initial focus on development from the first moments of life through the closing seminar on limitations, this course provides a uniquely psychoanalytic view of the development of the person over time.

 

Elective Choices 

From time to time a student or group of students have a special interest in studying a set of ideas that are not currently offered as part of the regular schedule of classes. If there is sufficient interest on the part of both the faculty and student(s), additional electives can be created which supplement the current set of courses. Appropriate approval(s) must be obtained, however, should a student request that such an elective replace a course that is required for candidacy. One such elective is Infant Observation.

Infant Observation

The Infant Observation seminar is designed to enhance awareness and understanding of human development and interaction in all cultures and ethnic groups. Sharpening the ability to look closely at and attribute meaning to what is happening before one's eyes enhances the observer's emotional and intellectual receptivity and capacity for clinical work. Observers come to comprehend both how relationships are developed and how we become part of each other's world while recognizing the persistence of infantile patterns of behavior in the patient's later life.  

This experiential possibility helps the student to understand his/her own reactions in a setting where there are no expectations to produce psychic change and most of all it is invaluable for the understanding in what we cover under the umbrella of the countertransference.

The students observes a mother and her infant for an  hour each week in their home, writes up the observation to present and discuss in a very small group approximately once a month.