Certificate in Psychoanalysis

Boston Graduate School Of Psychoanalysis

Program Description

Certificate in Psychoanalysis

Boston Graduate School Of Psychoanalysis

Certificate in Psychoanalysis

BGSP’s original training program, the post-graduate Certificate in Psychoanalysis provides full academic and clinical training to practice psychoanalysis. Until recently, with the inception of the doctorate in psychoanalysis, the Certificate was the highest credential in the field of psychoanalysis, leading to the term, “certified psychoanalyst.” In fact, the academic and clinical studies in the Certificate and clinical Psya.D. programs are very similar. However, the doctoral program provides more research training and emphasizes generating research as well as clinically training to become a psychoanalyst.

Like the clinical Psya.D. program, the Certificate program in Psychoanalysis takes the psychoanalyst-in-training beyond the process of understanding how people develop their emotional and mental lives, into the realm of entering and intervening in the unconscious life of clients. The student explores the full range of character structures and psychopathology, integrating academic study with casework to understand patients’ repetitions, defenses, resistances, and symbolic communications. In clinical supervision, students learn to use the transference and countertransference responses to work constructively as analysts. Psychoanalytic research studies foster the student’s discipline to examine clinical data systematically, strengthening the process of making valid inferences from observations.

Such work requires an investment not only of time and resources, but also of oneself. The journey for the analyst-in-training entails both the courage and commitment to develop a high level of emotional attunement, attainable only through the combination of seminars, self-examination in the training analysis, and intensive clinical supervision (all hallmarks of BGSP’s integrative approach to learning.)

Student Outcomes

Graduates of the Certificate program are prepared to practice as psychoanalysts with a wide range of clients and to apply their knowledge to a broad range of endeavors. Over the last five years, 92% of graduates from the Certificate program report they are working in the field.

Training Analysis

Each student participates in a training analysis, working individually with an analyst throughout the program for a minimum of 450 hours of analysis. The training analysis is a cornerstone of the educational process for psychoanalysts. It deepens the student’s understanding of course material through personal experience and helps the student tolerate the feelings aroused by psychoanalytic study. It offers a fuller appreciation of one’s own emotional dynamics, increases the student’s access to all emotional states, and increases self-understanding, which is particularly critical for understanding others. Most importantly, the training analysis provides a space for the analyst-in-training to recognize how clients activate his or her own unconscious processes, in order to contain those reactions and use them productively, rather than acting them out.

Course of Study

The Certificate program is organized in two levels: Pre-Candidacy and Candidacy.


At the Pre-Candidacy level, students gain a psychoanalytic perspective on human development and clinical work. They learn about the development of the human psyche from infancy onward, study unconscious processes such as repetition, defenses, transference, resistance, and symbolism, and develop a psychoanalytic framework for understanding psychopathology across a wide range of diagnoses. Through the fieldwork externship, they also develop basic skills for establishing a therapeutic relationship with regressed or narcissistic clients. Throughout their studies, they observe emotional responses induced in themselves, and use these responses in order to understand others.

The Master of Arts in Psychoanalysis and the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling degrees fulfill all Pre-Candidacy requirements except the qualifying exam. Students entering the Certificate program with a relevant prior master’s degree may customize an accelerated Pre-Candidacy program or enroll in the CAGS in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy program to avoid repeating coursework.

Fieldwork Externship

Students in Pre-Candidacy complete a three semester Fieldwork Externship, which provides 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. The fieldwork externship provides the opportunity to learn how to develop the basic skills in establishing a therapeutic relationship with clients in regressed states. It fosters an ability to read the client’s contacts, responses to stimulation, and symbolic communications while observing the emotional responses induced in oneself. These skills are basic to working with people at all levels of functioning. The experience culminates in a presentation of fieldwork cases and completion of a case study paper.

Advancing to Candidacy

After completing all Pre-Candidacy requirements, students apply to advance to Candidacy. Progressing from Pre-Candidacy to Candidacy requires an accredited Master’s degree; successful completion of Pre-Candidacy coursework, the fieldwork externship and case study paper; and an acceptable qualifying exam.


During Candidacy, students explore advanced psychoanalytic theories from a range of perspectives, including those of Freud, Klein, Bion, Spotnitz, the theorists who followed them, and a range of other contemporary psychoanalysts. The candidate begins working analytically with patients in the Therapy Center under intensive supervision. Advanced clinical seminars on resistance analysis, transference and countertransference, symbolism, and theory of technique inform candidates’ work with patients. Courses in psychoanalytic research hone candidates’ skills in systematic observation and inference and facilitate the student’s work on the final single case study.

Therapy Center Internship

Once accepted to Candidacy, students apply to begin their Therapy Center Internship. During the internship, students work with three or more analytic cases (at least weekly) under supervision for the duration of Candidacy (minimally three years). Candidates enroll in the clinical seminar appropriate to their level of training, beginning with Case Management and progressing through advanced psychoanalytic seminars. Initially, students engage in group supervision; they then choose individual control supervisors, one of whom covers only the primary control case. (A “control case” is the term used for a case studied under close supervision.)

Candidates present their work with cases to the clinical faculty at two points during training: once after 25 hours of control supervision, for the Clinical Case Review, and again at the end of their studies, for the Final Clinical Presentation. The Clinical Case Review is a time for the candidate to gain feedback on clinical work, including case formulations, patient dynamics, and countertransference resistances, in order to work more productively towards the Final Clinical Presentation. The Final Clinical Presentation focuses on the single case study of the control case. This phase of the program takes from three to six years depending on the pace at which the student develops a caseload and progresses in meeting clinical and academic requirements.


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. For this reason, the Certificate research curriculum and final project focus on the single case study of the control case, in which a research question is posed which targets the central dynamics of the case. Inferences are backed up by evidence drawn from systematic observations of the analytic process, with particular attention to the transference-countertransference data.

Graduation Requirements

Conferral of the Certificate in Psychoanalysis requires:

  • Completion of an accredited Master’s degree
  • Satisfactory completion of Pre-Candidacy and Candidacy coursework
  • Satisfactory completion of the fieldwork externship, case presentation, and written case study
  • Successful completion of the qualifying exam
  • 450 hours of training analysis, of which 150 may be group analysis
  • 200 hours of supervision with at least three supervisors (at least 50 hours are completed with each of two different supervisors)
  • Analysis of three psychoanalytic cases over time
  • Satisfactory 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 the single case study research project: a well-executed research project demonstrating mastery of psychoanalytic concepts, a body of literature, research methodology and valid inference making

Because of the emotional growth inherent in learning to analyze patients, becoming a psychoanalyst takes more than a checklist of requirements, and every candidate’s progression will be unique. On a full-time basis, students take at least six years to graduate, but developing a robust caseload of psychoanalytic training cases can take more time. Almost all candidates reduce their studies to part-time status for one period of time or another, either to accommodate the rest of their lives, or to allow for a period of integration and analysis before proceeding onto additional work, such as completion of the final project. Therefore, a more typical time to completion is about 8 years.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated March 11, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
6 - 8 years
Part time
Full time
Start date Sept. 2017
USA Boston, Massachusetts
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End date Request Info
Duration 6 - 8 years
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