PSP Curriculum

First Year

The first year will have three tracks, each a year-long course or set of courses: Theory, Technique, and the choice of one of four electives.

Each class will be 75 minutes in length. Class times on Tuesday evenings will be 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM, 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM, and 7:15 PM – 8:30 PM.

1. Theory Track

In the theory track, we will draw from the following models (including, but not limited to, Freud, Ego Psychology, Klein, Winnicott, Kohut, Relational). Each of the following sections is seven or eight sessions in length.

  • Motivations
  • The Mind in Conflic
  • Early Relationships
  • Language, Symbol and Meaning

2. Treatment Track

In the treatment track we will be covering 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 will be drawn from both forms of treatment. This course is an introduction to a psychoanalytic way of working. Each section contains ten sessions.

  • Role, Task and Boundary
    • The structure and structuring of the therapeutic situation; the conduct of the first session; boundary issues
  • 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, selfpsychology, American relational/interpersonal/intersubjective.

3. Third Track

Choice of four options all 30 sessions.  These are open to both first and second year PSP students (assuming sufficient enrollment in each).

  • Infant/Mother Observation Seminar
    • 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 of what we cover under the umbrella of the countertransference. The student 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. The group meets weekly, and the student presents an observation approximately once a month.

    • The goals are:
      • Develop observational, reflective, and therapeutic skills
      • Understand communication in the therapeutic process
      • Complement the foundation for psychoanalytic thinking.
  • 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 will 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 as the Oedipus complex, the unconscious, transference, literary or artistic creation, narcissism, femininity, masochism, and the theory of conflict between life and death drives will be followed over the development of Freud's work. Also, we will show where in Freud we find the seeds of the present-day flowering of psychoanalysis, and along the way we will 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' Reading Freud. (Full year)
  • Klein, Her Contemporaries, Bion, and the Contemporary Kleinians of London: Theory and Technique
    • This course is designed to give a thorough introduction to central concepts of Kleinian psychoanalysis, including theory and technique. The readings are organized to link Klein’s work with more recent developments in the field, and with creative directions to which her understanding has led. A diversity of contemporary authors has been emphasized so that the seminar participants will be exposed to the breadth of the current interest and practice. After the first two sessions, which will provide an overview and first orientation to the subsequent course, the seminar will take up the concept of positions. As there is much overlap in the subjects addressed in particular articles, the papers do not always fall neatly into one category or another. By the end of the course the seminar will have encountered important ideas: paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions, projective identification, the Oedipus complex and its relationship to early anxieties, envy, gratitude, and the life and death instincts, transference as the total situation, analysts’ use of countertransference, pathological formations, narcissism, symbol formation, development of thinking, Bion’s concept of container/contained, negative therapeutic reaction and recent thinking on technique.

  • The Experience of the Clinician
    • This course is broadly concerned with what it means to be a clinician.  Among the areas of reading in the course are: childhood influences on becoming a clinician, what it means to be a clinician, examples of how particular analysts work, the clinician's identifications, the clinician's states of mind (empathy, subjectivity, motivations, loving and hating, primitive anxieties), and the clinician's actions (listening, enactments, taking risks).  In each session, one of the students will present a clinical vignette from her/his practice in which the clinician felt particularly engaged, in one way or another.

Reading lists for 1,3, and 4 can be found on the Center's website at (after you have signed in).  The page is titled Candidates/Students Information.

Second Year

The second year will also have three tracks: Case Conferences, Theory Conference, and Electives. Class schedule will be the same as in the first year.

Case Conferences

  • In alternating weeks, the students will attend a case conference on psychoanalytic psychotherapy and one on psychoanalysis. The presenters will be, where possible, class members.  The psychotherapy case should preferably be a twice-weekly treatment. The two case conferences will have different teachers. In addition, the teachers of the theory classes will sit in on the case conferences during the tenure of her or his teaching.

Theory Conference

  • Based on the clinical material of the case conference, the students and theory instructor select reading(s) from the literature relevant to some issue raised in the clinical discussion, which will be the basis for discussion in the next theory class (two weeks later). In practical terms, the teacher will choose the reading(s) in the 24 hours after the case conference session, and inform the students of the assignment.  The reading will customarily be available on PepWeb, an internet-accessible library made available to students. In this conference theory is made directly relevant to practice.

Elective Choices

  • As in the first year, there is a choice of four options, all 30 sessions.  These are open to both first and second year PSP students (assuming sufficient enrollment in each).  They are described above.


  • As in the first year