Educational Standards: A New Era of Informed Choice

Dwarakanath G. Rao and Dionne R. Powell

Dwarakanath G. Rao, M.D., is chair of the Board on Professional Standards.

Dionne R. Powell, M.D., is secretary of the Board on Professional Standards.

In Chicago this past June, in an exceptional show of determination, focus and cooperation, Council and the Board on Professional Standards approved the final steps to full implementation of the Six Point Plan. In the coming months, the plan will be presented to the membership in the form of bylaw amendments. The changes are intended to provide solutions for longstanding strife in APsaA with regard to educational standards.

Important among the changes will be the sun setting of the Board on Professional Standards in June 2017. This momentous event, along with externalization of certification, has the potential to end the conflict between membership interests and the setting of standards. Non-regulatory functions will be in the newly created Department of Psychoanalytic Education (DPE), and regulatory functions in the American Association for Psychoanalytic Education (AAPE).

The DPE will be a committee of the corporation—a department with several sections and subcommittees, which will attend to the non-regulatory educational needs of APsaA institutes. Committee members will include APsaA members with an interest in psychoanalytic education. The DPE will promote the exchange of information among institutes, provide forums for pedagogical matters and continue the non-regulatory work of the Board on Professional Standards, including consultations upon request.

AAPE is a fully operational, non-profit standards body whose purpose is to provide external oversight in matters of psychoanalytic education for institutes that choose to follow AAPE standards. To date, the following institutes have endorsed AAPE standards and are members: Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Denver Institute for Psychoanalysis, Emory University Psychoanalytic Institute, and Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. Other institutes/centers are at various stages of discussion regarding membership in AAPE. Any APsaA institute in good standing based on the most recent COI site visit is eligible to be grandfathered into AAPE. For further information on AAPE, go to

Future of Standards

The most frequent questions we have encountered in the midst of these changes are: What will it mean to be an approved institute of APsaA? What will DPE offer institutes? What will AAPE offer institutes? How are standards going to be defined in the reorganized APsaA? What is the place of certification?

APsaA institutes may choose to follow the new APsaA standards, which will be IPA requirements as guidelines. With this choice, certification will be optional for training and supervising analyst appointments. Site visits will not be mandatory. Monitoring of standards will be conducted by local groups, with DPE providing resources and consultation upon request.

Institutes may choose to join AAPE if they endorse AAPE standards, which are existing APsaA standards, subject to modification in the future. They include certification and detailed clinical vetting for training and supervising analyst appointment. AAPE will require periodic site visits for the purpose of external accreditation through a pending agreement with the Accreditation Council for Psychoanalytic Education (ACPEinc), an independent accrediting agency. AAPE, ABP, and DPE thus represent a non-rancorous, collegial set of choices, and the possibility of learning from all points of view.

The externalization of regulatory/oversight functions in AAPE parallels the certification examination, which was successfully externalized with the formation of the American Board of Psychoanalysis (ABP). Externalization of certification and oversight functions are expected in professions like ours, and were long overdue. ABP benefits members interested in certification, and AAPE benefits institutes interested in external oversight. Externalization of certification has been well received, going by the larger than usual number of new applicants. Thoughtful discussion is taking place in institutes regarding the value of external oversight offered by AAPE.

Timeline for Sunsetting of the Board On Professional Standards

In preparation for the sun setting of the Board of Professional Standards and its committees, we outlined a timeline in Chicago for an orderly and responsible closure of the regulatory aspects of our work. The committees of the Board on Professional Standards will stop accepting new business on December 31, 2016, with the exception of already scheduled site visits, training and supervising analyst appointments, and any other commitments already made. COPE study groups will migrate to DPE. The Board on Professional Standards and its committees will meet in January to conclude regular business, and will be available as needed for any remaining work until June 2017.

Regarding site visits, institutes will have a choice: Institutes following IPA requirements as guidelines will not require site visits or approval of training and supervising analyst appointments. They will exercise local oversight of such educational functions, with the option to call upon DPE for consultation.

Institutes following AAPE standards will require site visits, as well as approval by AAPE of training and supervising analyst appointments.

As we enter this historic period of transition, we want to acknowledge the work of so many committed and passionate colleagues who have worked with the Board on Professional Standards. Their dedication and generosity towards nurturing the next generation of psychoanalysts remains an inspiration to us. We feel hopeful and energized by the prospect of an end to decades of strife, and by the freedom to pursue choice in matters of education and standards.

We urge members to familiarize themselves with the details of these new and creative developments in our Association. We will be glad to assist members and institutes in understanding the options and challenges they face in this time of transition.