Careers in Psychoanalysis

Career paths in psychoanalysis range more widely than one might think. This stems from the fact that psychoanalysis is both a clinical method of treating emotional disorders, and a depth psychological theory that can be used to understand all aspects of human motivation, behavior, development and relationships.

Analysts throughout the United States share their expertise through a variety of complementary careers and can be found in the courtroom, the classroom, and the boardroom, as well as sharing their insight in literature and theatrical arts.

By choosing a specialty in addition to clinical practice, analysts are successfully providing the insight, understanding and perspectives of psychoanalysis to the general public in a variety of ways. The application of psychoanalytic theory in other fields besides that of clinician is often referred to as "applied psychoanalysis."

Here are a few careers beyond the couch that APsaA members have developed:

  • Academic/Educator
  • Sports Analyst
  • Business/Management Consultant
  • Historian/Biographer
  • Neuroscientist
  • Author
  • Community Interventionist
  • Mental Health Consultant to K-12 Schools


Becoming a Psychoanalyst

In order to be approved for full psychoanalytic training (called candidacy) at a psychoanalytic institute approved by the American Psychoanalytic Association, one first needs a graduate mental health degree and some prior training and experience as a therapist. There are three main types of acceptable graduate degrees:

1. Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

The medical route involves graduating from medical school (4 years) and completing a psychiatry residency (4 years). In some cases, candidates can be accepted into psychoanalytic training while they are still psychiatry residents.

2. Other Mental Health Doctoral Degrees

A Ph.D. in clinical aspects of psychology, in social work, or in other mental health disciplines makes one eligible to apply to become a candidate. The typical Ph.D. program takes 4-6 years, and in most states, 1-2 years of post-doctoral clinical experience is required for full independent licensure.

3. Master’s Degree

A master's degree is sufficient in fields in which that is the highest clinical degree, such as social work, marriage and family therapy, and psychiatric nursing.These degrees generally take about 2 years to complete, and because they involve less extensive clinical training some additional coursework and supervised clinical work is required before applying for candidacy.


Undergraduate Preparation

The optimal undergraduate preparation depends on which post-graduate route you choose, because each route has different admission requirements. But any undergraduate major can be compatible with all three pathways, as long as the required courses are taken. Admission requirements can easily be found on graduate school websites or from guide books for students interested in Medical school or mental health graduate programs.



Waivers of these graduate degree requirements are possible for certain individuals who are interested in and deemed suitable for psychoanalytic training. For example, some individuals with Master’s degrees in clinical Psychology, or academicians with non-mental health degrees can apply for waivers under certain circumstances.

In addition to the mental health pathways, APsaA offers training to academicians in certain special circumstances who wish to integrate psychoanalytic ideas with their core discipline.

For more information on psychoanalytic training, review the APsaA's Standards and Principles for Psychoanalytic Education.