FOCUS ON PSYCHOTHERAPY

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Programs in APsaA

Anna Schwartz

My interest in psychoanalytic psychotherapy began as a psychiatry resident at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Columbia’s residency program has always been, and remains, committed to teaching psychoanalytic psychotherapy, which, sadly, has become far less common in psychiatry residency and psychology graduate programs in recent years. A particularly formative experience was a rotation on the inpatient personality disorders treatment unit where my teachers and supervisors, all psychoanalytically trained, taught me a psychodynamic framework for understanding and empathizing with the inner lives of my patients; this proved invaluable for working with people with complex disorders.

After residency, I completed a fellowship in public psychiatry, worked in a community mental health clinic and then in a collaborative care setting in a general medical clinic, and completed my psychoanalytic training at Columbia. I began teaching in Columbia’s Adult Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program soon after graduation, and became the director of the program in 2008, remaining in that role until July 2021. I am currently the co-chair of the Psychotherapy Division at Columbia, which comprises the Adult and Child Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program(s), the Transference-Focused Psychotherapy Program, the Columbia Psychology in the Schools Program, and the Parent-Infant Program.

Columbia’s two-year Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program introduces students to a psychodynamic approach to working with patients in a variety of frames. In addition to traditional long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy, these include brief dynamic therapy, transference-focused psychotherapy, dynamic supportive therapy, and the psychodynamics of pharmacologic treatment. The course includes weekly didactic seminars and individual supervision, and students are highly encouraged to be in their own psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. Our students practice in diverse settings, including inpatient units, outpatient clinics, schools, research settings, and private practice. Some of our students continue on to psychoanalytic training after graduating.

I began attending the meetings of the Committee on Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Programs (COPPTP) at APsaA over a decade ago, and joined the Committee soon after. I’ve found my involvement with COPPTP to be a wonderful way to meet colleagues from around the country and exchange ideas about psychotherapy training. Our annual committee-sponsored workshop in New York has been a rich opportunity to explore both the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching as well as learning psychodynamic psychotherapy. I’m currently the co-chair of COPPTP, with Ann Dart.

Most APsaA-affiliated institutes offer psychoanalytic psychotherapy training programs. These programs vary in length and structure, from one-year fellowships or introductory courses to three-year intensive programs, with most institutes offering a two-year program. A few offer a hybrid program, with the first one or two years of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy training combined in a foundational program. Students later choose to pursue further psychoanalytic or psychotherapy training. As with analytic training, these programs typically have a tripartite structure of classroom learning, individual supervision, and personal psychotherapy. (Detailed information on the psychoanalytic psychotherapy programs offered by APsaA institutes can be found via links on the APsaA website, under Research and Training.)

What all of these programs share in common is they are helping to fill significant gaps in training received by mental health professionals across disciplines. Students often graduate from their programs hungry to learn more about psychoanalytic concepts and their application to clinical work. Established clinicians often want to expand their skills and hone their ability to engage patients more deeply in treatment. Psychodynamic psychotherapy programs are an invaluable resource, and we hope COPPTP can continue to support program leaders and faculty in their work. APSAA


Anna Schwartz, M.D., is on the faculty of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training & Research, where she is also the co-chair of the Psychotherapy Division. She is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry in the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, and is in private practice in New York City.