ONE APsaA and the Future of Psychoanalysis

Harriet Wolfe

Harriet Wolfe, M.D., is the president of APsaA.


Harriet Wolfe

This issue of TAP has an open door on its cover and ONE APsaA has an open door at its core. Impasses from the past have been settled. The door is literally now open for us to focus on the profession of psychoanalysis and the inner life of people rather than the internal conflicts of APsaA.

The internal struggles we have endured in recent years (or decades) have not been idle ones. Many APsaA members have waged a battle for standards rooted in a commitment to the best possible quality in psychoanalytic education. Insofar as this traditional vision enabled a patina of elitism and exclusionary policies, opportunities for creative innovation and inclusive participation were limited. Both the bylaw change voted by a super-majority in January 2016 and progress with implementation of the Six Point Plan have put us in an improved position to successfully adapt and nourish psychoanalysis in a changing world.

This is a time of massive unrest in the world. Extreme positions are being taken for and against otherwise obvious opportunities to care for our fellow men and women. Psychoanalysis also faces significant external pressures in a world that features instant communication, instant gratification and rare insurance coverage for long-term treatment. But I am confident our microcosm of the social world is ready to continue its recent respectful dialog and use it as the foundation for strategic and successful professional action.

Change is hard. We have to mourn the loss of the familiar and open our personal doors to a creative vision of the future. Some have said that in the new APsaA “anything goes” in regard to psychoanalytic training. Nothing could be further from the truth. The notion that APsaA would not continue to stand for quality is a reflection of how hard a change in mindset can be. Our process of structural change will continue at least over the next year and will require continued focus, determination and fresh thought. I will summarize for you where we currently stand in our transition to ONE APsaA and hope to hear from you regularly with any questions or suggestions about the transition.

The Executive Council is engaged in a self-assessment and thoughtful revamping of APsaA’s governance structure. The Task Force on Governance and Structure continues to lead a productive discussion of the meaning of a director’s role and the best governance model for APsaA.

APsaA has nearly 100 committees devoted to the profession, e.g., psychoanalytic education and training; outreach through the arts, academe and all levels of public and mental health education; public advocacy; psychoanalytic psychotherapy; and psychoanalytic research and scholarship. Each is accountable to the Executive Council and the task of following the work of these committees is immense. They are organized into “departments” to promote integration and oversight of committee work, and several APsaA members have generously agreed to head these departments. They will report to the Executive Council regarding their departmental targets, progress and policy recommendations. They will also communicate with you about their departments’ missions and activities.

There are six departments up and running and a new Department of Psychoanalytic Education (DPE) in the making. Peter Rudnytsky heads the Department of Academic and Professional Affairs; Michael Donner heads the Department of Communications; Brenda Bauer and Herb Gross co-lead the Department of Public Advocacy; Bill Myerson heads the Department of Member Services and Programs; Ralph Beaumont heads the Psychotherapy Department; and Mark Solms heads the Science Department.

The Department of Psychoanalytic Education was authorized by Executive Council in June 2016. When the Board on Professional Standards (BOPS) sunsets in June 2017, the DPE will oversee psychoanalytic training in all its dimensions in the new APsaA.

Within the DPE all APsaA training programs will have the opportunity for consultative oversight, cross-fertilization and innovative problem-solving. There will be a head and associate head of the DPE who will have overlapping tenures to ensure continuity with the associate head becoming the department head after two years in the first role. The task force has recommended that one of the two positions be occupied by a child analyst. All interested APsaA members are urged to apply for these leadership positions. The process for submitting an application will be on the members’ section of the APsaA website: I will appoint the DPE leaders in consultation with an Executive Council Subcommittee. Meanwhile, Erik Gann, chair of the DPE Task Force, and the task force members are working on the transition of consultative BOPS functions to the DPE, the creative introduction of new educational forums, and an inclusive welcoming to all members interested in psychoanalytic education to participate.

APsaA standards of education beyond IPA baseline requirements will be a matter of local option; for example, local training programs (centers and institutes) will decide whether to require certification for TA appointment. New institute affiliations with APsaA will occur through an Institute Requirements and Review Committee of the Executive Council, pending bylaw approval in January 2017 and beginning when BOPS has sunsetted. External certification of individual analysts will be available on a voluntary basis through the American Board of Psychoanalysis (ABP) as will voluntary external oversight of institute/center training standards through the American Association of Psychoanalytic Education (AAPE) and external institute accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Psychoanalytic Education, Inc. (ACPEinc).

I will continue to update you on the progress that advances our profession and strengthens the governance of APsaA. What will make the biggest difference, however, is your involvement in defining what matters to patients, trainees and society from a psychoanalytic viewpoint. Your participation is the essential ingredient for our successful continued progress as ONE APsaA.

Your local representative will be invited to attend a retreat for executive councilors the last weekend in October. The purpose of the retreat is to continue the progress begun at the annual meeting in Chicago toward determining the best governance structure for APsaA. A crucial question is how to accomplish representation of all local groups and at the same time ensure effective and nimble governance. Please meet with your representatives before the retreat and let them know what you think will work best.

It is an exciting time. The door has opened for ONE APsaA. We have the chance to imagine and achieve a bright future for psychoanalysis!