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what is certification?

Certification is a voluntary process by which a psychoanalyst demonstrates though blind peer review a mastery of basic knowledge and skills necessary to practice the profession of psychoanalysis. It can be an important developmental experience.  To be vetted and endorsed by a group of Certified psychoanalysts who have no personal or institutional relationship with the applicant provides a meaningful affirmation of the applicant’s emerging analytic identity.

When a psychoanalyst is certified as a Fellow of the American Board of Psychoanalysis, his/her name will appear on the ABPsa online registry.

Why is certification important?

When you or a family member needs mental health treatment, you want a highly qualified professional dedicated to providing outstanding care. A psychoanalyst is someone who has undergone years of additional training beyond a graduate mental health degree. Typically this training consists of three components: a personal analysis, a didactic curriculum, and intensive supervised psychoanalytic clinical work. When you choose a psychoanalyst who is Board Certified by the ABPsa, you can be confident he or she voluntarily chose to have their clinical work evaluated through a blind peer review.

Who administers the examination?

The Certification Committee of the American Board of Psychoanalysis administers the certification examination.   The American Board of Psychoanalysis is a fully autonomous entity that is financially independent and not subject to undue influence from any membership organizations or training institutions.  The ABPsa is committed to ongoing refinement of the certification procedures in order to remove, to the greatest degree possible, bias and error resulting from a lack of inter-rater reliability and other sources of error.

What is involved in the certification process?

The ABPsa procedure for Certification in Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychoanalysis consists of two phases, the submission of written case reports followed by an oral examination.

The applicant submits two written reports of two psychoanalytic cases seen at a frequency of 3 to 5 times weekly to demonstrate understanding of psychoanalysis and competence to conduct psychoanalytic treatment. These reports should be of analyses of patients which are at least in the middle phase, and at least one of which should be in or have completed a termination experience.

The written work is reviewed by the entire Certification Committee prior to meeting with the applicant. Any questions that may arise about the written work can then be discussed in person with the applicant during the interview with two members of the Certification Committee. In order to enable the committee to more fully understand the applicant’s work, process (session) material from the analyses of the patients presented in the two written reports should be brought to the interview. The applicant should also be prepared to discuss at the interview a third patient and provide process/session material (not a long report), ideally recent, and be prepared to give a brief oral introduction of this third patient prior to discussing the process material.

After the interview the committee meets again to review the total application.

Detailed information about the certification process is available in the Applicant Handbook.

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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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