The Washington Psychoanalytic Institute: Curriculum

The first two years of psychoanalytic training are completed with all participants in the Psychoanalytic Studies Program (see below).
The curriculum for years three through five is currently being developed. Please check back here for further developments.

First Year

The first year will have three tracks, each a year-long course or set of courses: Theory, Technique, and the choice of either the Infant/Mother Observation Seminar or the Reading Freud Seminar.

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 six-sessions in length.

  •     The Dynamic Unconscious
  •     Motivations
  •     The Mind in Conflict
  •     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 Counter-transference
    •  From modern egopsychological 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/inter-subjective.

3. Third Track

Choice of two options, both 30-sessions. If the student is interested in both of these options, one can be done in each of the programs two years.

  •     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)

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 presenter for the former will be a class member, for the latter it will be a faculty member. The psychotherapy case should preferably be a twice-weekly treatment. The two case conferences will have different teachers. In addition, the teacher of the theory conference will sit in on both case conferences during the tenure of her or his teaching.

Theory Conference

  •  Based on the clinical material of the preceding week, the instructor selects reading(s) from the literature relevant to some issue raised in the clinical discussion the reading(s) is discussed here. 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 would customarily be available on Pep-Web, an internet-accessible library made available to students. In this conference theory is made directly relevant to practice.

Elective Choices

  • The electives will be composed on the basis of our first year's experience with the students, including their input. If the class is large enough, it might be possible to offer a couple electives simultaneously. The length of each elective will be determined by the faculty and students.


  • Same as the first year