The Accreditation Council for Psychoanalytic Education Inc. (ACPE, Inc.) defines psychoanalysis in the following way:
Psychoanalysis is a specific form of individual psychotherapy that aims to bring unconscious mental elements and processes into awareness in order to expand an individual’s self-understanding, enhance adaptation in multiple spheres of functioning, alleviate symptoms of mental disorder, and facilitate character change and emotional growth. Psychoanalytic work is characterized by depth and intensity, which are achieved in the context of frequent treatment sessions over a long term.
Psychoanalysts come from a variety of professions in the mental health field. Those who have attained the highest degree in their particular field are eligible to apply to one of the psychoanalytic institutes accredited by the American Psychoanalytic Association and spend an additional 7-10 years to become certified in psychoanalysis. Admissions are also dependent on assessing suitability, by which is meant that an applicant would be a person of good character who is capable of sustaining, nurturing and being nurtured by prolonged exposure in emotionally challenging relationships. Those that apply for psychoanalytic training will enter a tripartite process: their own psychoanalysis, theoretical and clinical seminars, and building of the clinical practice, which will require three analyses with three separate supervisory experiences. It will be on the average 5000-9000 hours of learning if training in child psychoanalysis is added to the program. Just imagine, it takes 1000 hours in the air to get a pilot’s license.
Those who will go on to train future psychoanalysts, after an additional five years of work, about 3000 hours, will have to submit their work to the scrutiny of their peers in the process of the certification by the Board on Professional Standards of American Psychoanalytic Association. The cost is comparable to yearly college tuition.
The job of the training analyst is to help students, referred to as candidates, get to know the most intimate explicit and implicit workings of their mind. A candidate experiences what it means to be in psychoanalysis, and is able to put herself or himself in the client’s shoes. In the psychoanalytic situation, both parties are powerless. Understanding and compassion represent power here. They are the discourse of mutuality in psychoanalysis. In this process, the candidate learns about transference and countertransference. She is learning to build a therapeutic alliance, a resilient way to observe her client’s and her own inner life, even when the anxiety level in the psychoanalytic treatment becomes too much. In the face of out of control levels of anger, despair, panic or arousal she is learning how to remain calm and think. She is learning what reaction of her own will illuminate her client’s emotional states, leading to positive change. In psychoanalytic training the candidate is establishing how to work independently as a psychoanalyst, and to be helpful by revealing unconscious aspects of her client’s functioning. In seminars candidates learn various theories and techniques of psychoanalysis. All of it is done to foster, recognize, and communicate in writing what is called the psychoanalytic process.
Each candidate is learning in her/his work with me, as a training analyst or as a supervising analyst, that in psychoanalysis, both participants have to rely on each other’s strengths, while openly acknowledging the embarrassment of shortcomings. Often enough, psychoanalysis identifies difficult questions and makes them solvable. It sees order where others see disorder. It pushes the envelope of individuality, while exploring the value of partnership. Psychoanalysis, sometimes leads to insight, always frees up curiosity, makes hope a reality, and inevitably produces change.
The Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center invites those who are interested in becoming a psychoanalyst or in learning more about other applications of psychoanalytic ideas, to contact the Center’s Psychoanalysts Training Program (PTP). For information call the Chair of the Admissions Committee Vera Camden, Ph.D. at (216) 407-7931.