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The Competency Initiative: There may be a focus group in your future

04/12/2021 4:29 PM | Anonymous

The Backdrop

With the help of the psychoanalytic community, the ABPsa is undertaking a comprehensive multi-year review of the core competencies evaluated during the board certification exam. Through this “Competency Initiative,” we want to ensure that the competencies reflect the current practice of psychoanalysis.

During the initial phase, we engaged with experienced psychoanalytic and competencies researchers and developed the research plan. This phase included an extensive literature review and feedback from psychoanalysts across the country.

Phase Two: Part 1

To kick off Phase Two, we invited feedback from over 360 psychoanalysts reflecting diversities across many categories (age, gender, theoretical orientation, etc.), via an interactive online platform.

Based on the feedback, we identified the different categories of analysts that we wanted to hear from and developed our key questions. These groups were chosen to ensure we hear from:

  • Analysts at different points in their careers
  • Candidates to senior analysts recognized for their expertise in the clinical realm
  • Child analysts
  • Analysts with specific theoretical orientations (e.g., groups of Kleinians, self-psychologists, Bionians, Relationalists, etc.)
  • Experts in diversity issues who will be asked to consider our competencies from a diversity perspective
  • Groups with different perspectives on certification (pro-, con-, and indifferent)
  • Analysts from differing umbrella organizations (e.g., APsaA, IPA, NAPsaC., CIPS, ACPE, and independent institutes)

Conducted two pilot focus group sessions in February 2020 with expert senior analysts. The initial groups yielded rich discussions and useful information that helped us design the Focus Group format we will be using this year. And then Covid struck. Since then we’ve reviewed the initial data, refined the plan, and prepared for the intensive focus group process.

Phase Two: Focus Groups

Approximately 20 focus groups are planned for the next year. Each focus group of 6-8 individuals meets just once for two hours. The participants will be asked the same questions, relating to identifying the essential competencies required to practice psychoanalysis, and whether there are missing, outdated, or unnecessary competencies in our current list.

This data will be analyzed and drive the development of a revised list of Core Competencies for psychoanalysis. Phase Three will be devoted to completing a seamless, reliable, transparent and clear transition to the use of these competencies in the board certification process.

We will need your help! We will be reaching out to many of you to join specific focus groups. Let your colleagues know that we may be contacting them as well to ensure we obtain opinions representing the breadth of psychoanalytic practice in 2021.

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        Phone: (303) 676-8008  |  Email:

The American Board of Psychoanalysis is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to serving the public interest and promoting the profession of psychoanalysis through certification and maintenance of certification. 

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