Training Course in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Information for Applicants



The NSW Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (NSWIPP) was established in 1976 by a group of professionals who were interested in developing and promoting the practice and teaching of psychoanalytic psychotherapy at a time when it was disappearing as a subject for study in University courses in New South Wales.  At about the same time, most other Australian states were establishing similar psychotherapy groups, and by 1980 these had been brought into association by the establishment of a federal organisation – the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia (PPAA).  This group has representatives from New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New Zealand. The PPAA organises an annual conference, organises seminars with national and international speakers and publishes the Psychotherapy Journal of Australia.   The NSWIPP Training Course has been running since 1978 and is administered by the Adult Training Advisory Board (ATAB).  The course is regularly revised to ensure we are offering a comprehensive, up-to-date, and high standard training to equip our trainees to practice psychoanalytic psychotherapy in all appropriate situations.


It is usual that prospective trainees will have a basic clinical qualification in areas such as psychiatry, psychology, social work or occupational therapy.  Other relevant tertiary qualifications will be considered.  At least two years’ clinical experience, following professional qualification is required.   Applicants are required, by the time of application, to be established in (at least) twice-weekly personal psychoanalytic therapy or psychoanalysis with an approved therapist or analyst.  Approved therapists are drawn from senior members of NSWIPP (a list is available from the secretary) or the Sydney Institute for Psycho-analysis (see SIFP website).  Members of the ATAB are also available to discuss this with you.  This therapy continues until the training requirements are completed.   The Selection Subcommittee manages the selection process.  The interview provides an opportunity for the applicant to discuss their application and the training in depth with a senior member from NSWIPP who will evaluate the applicant’s personal and professional suitability to train and practice as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.   Applicants are asked to include with their application evidence of membership of their professional body and a copy of their Professional Indemnity Insurance.


  • To develop an understanding of the psychoanalytic theory of human behaviour, emotional development and mental life.
  • To develop competence in the assessment and psychoanalytic psychotherapeutic treatment of adults.
  • To develop an awareness of the scope and the limitations of various psychoanalytic psychotherapeutic approaches.
  • To develop insight into transference and counter-transference and an understanding of the unconscious.
  • To develop in the therapist an awareness of the need for consultation with other professionals as a way of monitoring the treatment process, and to be able to use this consultation constructively in the service of patients.
  • To develop a high standard of ethical practice in the therapist’s interaction with the patient and with other professionals and professional bodies.

The course aims to stimulate a process of life-long learning, which continues beyond its duration, rather than to provide a definitive body of knowledge.


The course is based on the assumption that the psychotherapeutic process includes both cognitive and affective aspects, and that the integration of both these aspects is vital in the development of a competent psychotherapist. The trainee’s own clinical work is supervised and integrated with teaching in the theoretical and clinical seminars. Theoretical knowledge of the process of psychoanalytic psychotherapy is paired with an increasing awareness of the emotional response of the therapist to the patient. Because of the importance of the therapist’s own understanding of the nature of the inner world, it is required that each trainee will undertake a personal therapy concurrently with the other aspects of the training. The developing clinical experience of the trainee is an important focus of the teaching which is conducted in small groups. This small group setting is integral to the course, providing trainees with opportunities to learn from each others’ different experiences and ideas, and in providing peer support, lively debate, and consultation. The course is part-time allowing time and space for the trainee’s growth and development as an increasingly competent clinician.


The Training Course extends over a minimum period of four years, depending on the time required for trainees to complete their case requirements.  (Most trainees complete the training within five years, but some take longer).   Clinical and theoretical seminars are held at the Institute’s premises for 3 hours per week in terms corresponding to public school terms, i.e. four terms per year.  Infant Observation Seminars are held in the rooms of the seminar leader, and individual supervisions in the rooms of the supervisor.   There are four concurrent strands to the training course:

  • personal psychoanalytic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis
  • infant observation
  • individual supervision of approved training cases
  • theoretical and clinical seminars

5.1         Personal Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy or Psychoanalysis

Applicants must be established in therapy with an approved therapist or analyst by the time of application.  This continues at least twice a week until all components of the training are completed.   Since personal therapy is a requirement of the training, it cannot be claimed as a medical expense but is tax deductible as an educational expense.

5.2         Infant Observation

The focus of work during the first year of training is the Infant Observation.  Trainees make contact with an expectant mother and her family prior to delivery, and then visit her and her baby at home at weekly intervals for the next twelve months.  Extension of the visits for a longer period to observe later development is sometimes possible. Careful recordings of the observations made during the visits are kept and are then considered in weekly supervision small group sessions with a seminar leader.  These seminars are usually held on late Tuesday afternoons for one and a half hours.  Each small group and leader remains together for this part of the course.  The discipline of being an attentive observer of a developing relationship which involves intense feelings provides a solid foundation for involvement with emotional states evoked in the clinical situation.

5.3         Case Supervision

Each trainee treats two patients and undertakes a once-a-week individual supervision with a different supervisor for each patient.  The case requirements are as follows:

  • case seen at least twice weekly for two hundred hours, or over two years, whichever is longer, and supervised once weekly.
  • case seen at least twice weekly for one hundred hours or for one year, whichever is longer, and supervised once weekly.

The period of supervision and/or the number of cases may, if required, be extended in the interest of the trainee’s development.   It is expected that supervision will probably commence following satisfactory completion of the infant observation, and will continue until the case requirements are completed, which may or may not be by the end of the Theoretical Program, depending on individual trainee’s progress. Supervisors are all senior members of NSWIPP.  Supervisors and trainees submit reports about their work every six months to the Progress Sub-Committee of the ATAB. The ATAB uses these reports to monitor trainee progress, to give approval for the commencement of each of the supervised cases and in deciding when the trainee has met the case requirements. Arrangements for supervision, including fees, are negotiated between trainees and supervisors.

Selection of Patients Trainees are responsible for finding patients suitable for psychoanalytic psychotherapy.  Selection of suitable patients will be looked at in depth with the trainee’s approved supervisor.

5.4         Theoretical Seminar Program

The format chosen for the theoretical program is a seminar or tutorial style of learning.  Seminar leaders will distribute reading material before the seminar and each trainee is expected to prepare and discuss the references.  Seminar leaders and trainees are encouraged to introduce suitable clinical material to illuminate the theoretical material in the group discussions.  A principle of spiral learning is followed where the same topic is reworked from different perspectives during different stages within the course to encourage a deepening understanding of the material.

5.5        Clinical Seminar Program

Trainees are given the opportunity to present case material from their own clinical practice in their training group at a seminar led by a senior NSWIPP member.  These seminars run concurrently with the theoretical program.

5.6         Year-by-Year Course Structure and Curriculum

The curriculum is regularly updated and the contents of the theoretical program in particular, as outlined here, are intended only as a guide.  The weekly three-hour seminar format is divided currently into theoretical and clinical sections.


  • Introductory Seminars
–       Ethics
–       The Psychotherapeutic Frame
–       Assessment
–       History of Psychoanalysis
–       Becoming a therapist
–       Infant Development and the Inner World
–       Neuroscience and Psychoanalysis
–       Process of Therapy
–       Transference and Countertransference
–       Frequently encountered clinical challenges
  • Infant Observation
–       Weekly presentation of observation data in a small group


  • Completion of Infant Observation
  • Commencement of supervised cases
  • Ongoing Seminars
–       Psychoanalytic technique
–       Major Theorists – Freud, Klein, Winnicott, Bion
–       Trainees presenting Clinical work


  • Supervised case work
  • Ongoing Seminars
–    Clinical Studies (e.g. specific syndromes and character-types, psychotic processes, trauma)
–    Other Major Theorists and Schools – e.g. Attachment Theory, Post-Kleinians, Self-Psychology, RelationalPsychoanalysis
–    Technique


  • Supervised case work
  • Ongoing  Seminars
–    Further Clinical Studies (e.g. Psychosomatic Illness, Oedipal Issues)
–    Technique


Upon acceptance into the training program, the trainee is assigned a trainee adviser for the duration of the training.  The trainee adviser is a representative of the ATAB and usually a member of the ATAB.  This arrangement provides a personal point of contact for the trainee and a link with the ATAB.  The trainee adviser and trainee meet each term at which time progress is reviewed and any specific issues addressed, including feedback from the ATAB.


There is ongoing assessment of trainee progress, and formal evaluation occurs every six months.   The completion of each stage of the training gives both the trainee and the ATAB an opportunity to consider whether the trainee has met the requirements for progression to the next stage of the training.  This is particularly important at the end of the Infant Observation year.  A formal certificate will be issued to trainees on the successful completion of all aspects of the training.


It is hoped that all trainees who successfully complete the Training Course will apply to the Membership Advisory Board of the NSWIPP to become members of the Institute.  Upon successful completion of the training course and while trainees prepare to apply for membership, they are invited to join the Institute’s Guest List.  This is to give trainees the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the scientific life of the Institute.

9.    COSTS

The current cost of the Training Program is $135.00 (plus GST) per three-hour theoretical/clinical seminar, and this fee is reviewed annually.  (This is exclusive of supervision and personal therapy fees.) There are four terms per year and usually eight to ten seminars per term.   The current cost of the Infant Observation is $120.00 (plus GST) per seminar, and this fee is reviewed annually.


Further information about the training course is available by contacting the Chair of the ATAB.  Further information about the selection process is also available by contacting the Chair of the Selection Subcommittee.   Both can be contacted by ringing NSWIPP on (02) 9558 3175

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