Doctoral Degrees in Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic degrees
Doctoral Degrees in Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic degrees  
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Barry Waterson
Dr. Waterson is a graduate of the Doctoral Program at the Vermont Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, a branch of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. MORE>

Doctoral Degrees in Psychoanalysis


Program description
BGSP is unique among both psychoanalytic training institutes and graduate schools in offering regionally accredited degrees in psychoanalysis culminating in the Doctor of Psychoanalysis degree (Psya.D.). This program combines full certificate training to become a psychoanalyst with academic and research studies leading to the doctorate. Throughout their doctoral studies students engage in academic coursework, clinical experience and supervision, research studies, and in a training analysis as they master and apply psychoanalytic concepts and understanding and develop themselves as therapeutic personalities. Innovative doctoral research projects add to knowledge in the field. Graduates are prepared to practice as psychoanalysts as well as to teach, do research, and apply their knowledge to a broad range of endeavors. Over the last five years, 92% of graduates from the Doctoral program are working in the field.

The doctoral program is organized in two levels. The first, Level A, provides an introduction to psychoanalytic theory, developmental studies, somatic factors, research methods, psychopathology and introduction to clinical work with regressed patients. Level A students engage in a three-semester fieldwork externship. The externship provides the opportunity to observe, under supervision, primitive mental states and extremes of pathology in severely regressed patients. Students without master’s degrees complete the Master of Arts or the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling to fulfill Level A requirements.

Progressing from Level A to Level B requires successful completion of Level A coursework, the fieldwork externship and a qualifying exam. At the candidacy level, Level B, students study advanced theory, research and clinical studies while seeing three analysands in the Therapy Center under supervision. The candidate engages in minimally 150 hours of supervision, which includes two individual supervisions, minimally 50 hours each, one of which is the control supervision on one case. The candidate presents their work with cases to the clinical faculty at two points during their Level B training, once after 25 hours of control supervision and again at the end of their studies.

Research studies begin with coursework and continue as the student develops a research topic and begins to work with a research advisor and two other committee members on a proposal for the doctoral dissertation. The dissertation is an original research project which contributes to clinical understanding, theory development, evaluation of technique, or the application of psychoanalytic concepts or technique to another domain.

Students engage in a training analysis throughout their studies completing 450 hours of analysis. Students proceed at their own pace through the program and typically complete the requirements for graduation in about 8 years.

Degree requirements
• Completion of minimally 16 courses at Level A and 12 courses at Level B.
• If entering pre-Master’s, completion of a Master’s degree in Psychoanalysis or Mental Health Counseling
• Completion of the three-semester fieldwork externship and presentation of fieldwork cases demonstrating understanding of primitive mental states
• Successful completion of the qualifying exam
• 450 hours of training analysis of which 150 may be group analysis
• 150 hours of supervision of which at least 50 hours are completed with each of two different supervisors
• Analysis of three cases over time (minimally 2-1/2 years at minimally once a week frequency); presentation of cases for Clinical Case Review after 25 hours of control supervision demonstrating understanding of cases and current resistances including countertransference resistance;
• Final case presentation to the faculty demonstrating understanding of the case as well as use of self as a therapeutic personality;
• Completion of a doctoral dissertation, a well executed original research project demonstrating mastery of psychoanalytic concepts, a body of literature, research methodology and valid inference making.
• Successful oral presentation of doctoral dissertation to the doctoral faculty.

Fieldwork externship
Students in the Master of Arts program complete a three semester Field Placement Externship. The externship offers direct contact with regressed patients in mental hospitals or comparable settings, giving students the opportunity to observe extremes of pathology at the earliest levels of fixation or regression. First semester courses and training analysis prepare the student for the externship experience. The Field Placement Externship includes 400 hours in placement-related activities, including ongoing individual contacts with psychotic patients, administrative supervision and team meetings. The externship is undertaken in conjunction with the seminar on Clinical Experience in Institutional Settings (PT185a,b,c) for three semesters. Students engage in small group supervisions of Field Placement cases (PT 111) throughout the externship. The experience culminates in presentation of fieldwork cases and completion of a case study paper.

Therapy center Internship
Once accepted to Certificate Candidacy students apply to begin their internship. During the internship, students work with at least three analytic cases weekly under supervision for minimally three years. While engaged in the internship, students enroll in the clinical seminar appropriate to their level of training beginning with PT2610, Case Management and progressing through advanced seminars. Initially students engage in group supervision, then choose individual control supervisors, one of whom covers the primary control case, the other covers two cases. Students remain in supervision while completing their single case study.

Psychoanalysis is a body of knowledge, a theory of mental functioning, a clinical method and a method of inquiry. Psychoanalysts study the unconscious level of mental functioning through making valid inferences from the stream of verbal and behavioral responses comprising human behavior, whether individually or in groups. Psychoanalytic research projects address a question about underlying motivation and conflict, about what leads to change in psychic functioning, about resistances to change, and a variety of other questions of interest both clinically and theoretically. In working with a patient, the analyst has the opportunity to make multiple observations over time under similar conditions while intruding minimally into the patient’s presentation of their experience and conflicts. Each case may be an in depth study in itself contributing to the knowledge base on a particular pathology or character structure. Or the researcher may be interested in particular clinical phenomena best studied with a group of cases, e.g., somatization, phobias, Asperger’s syndrome. Or studies of particular interventions may be undertaken, e.g., group work with a particular diagnosis, interpretation versus reflective techniques.

The doctoral program research curriculum includes courses in qualitative research methods, psychoanalytic research, inference making, and proposal development as well as individual research advisement with experienced clinical researchers. The student is helped to identify an area of interest, review relevant literature, design a viable study, and use their academic, clinical and research training to formulate a question and make valid inferences from their data.

The dissertation is an original research project making a contribution to the field or applying psychoanalytic concepts or technique to understand something in a related field. A three-person dissertation committee guides the student through all phases of the project culminating in the dissertation and the presentation to the faculty in the dissertation defense. Sample doctoral research projects include a study of children’s unconscious resistances to learning a second language, a textual analysis study of regression and its relationship to progression in analysis, a study of the effects of trauma on Cambodian refugees escaping genocide, a single case study of the development of mentation in a psychotic child, a study of fantasies related to analysis in a second and primary language.

Research Projects
Abstracts of Doctoral Research dissertations

Catalog for Clinical Programs