Training to become a psychoanalyst in Madrid
After having received several requests for information on the subject, here’s a brief answer.
Psychoanalytic training in Madrid, like everywhere else in the world, takes place in a psychoanalytical institute that belongs to a psychoanalytical society.
There are a number of psychoanalytical associations and societies in Spain, but only two that are Component Societies of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) : the Sociedad Española de Psicoanálisis (SEP), in Barcelona, and the Asociación Psicoanalítica de Madrid (APM), in Madrid, with representatives also in Valencia and Bilbao.
The IPA was founded by Freud in 1910 (see history of the IPA) and federates more than 110 Component Societies in the world, each of them with their own Training Institute. In the English-speaking world, there are 44 societies distributed between the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA. The IPA guarantees that its Component Societies, and their Training Institutes, uphold the highest ethical, scientific and professional standards, and makes sure they function optimally.
Although there are slight differences in training between the different Institutes, IPA training worldwide is based on three fundamental pillars: personal analysis, supervised clinical work, and theoretical seminars. Their specific implementation depends on the cultural and theoretical references of each country; in order not to extend ourselves too much we’ll limit this to describing how it takes place in Madrid.
First and foremost, it is important to point out that Spanish law requires anyone who wishes to train as a psychoanalyst to have previously studied medicine or psychology.
In order to ask to be admitted to the Psychoanalytical Institute of Madrid one needs to have undergone at least three years of personal analysis, at no less than three sessions per week, with a Full Member of the APM.
The bedrock of all psychoanalytic training is personal analysis. It allows one to establish deep and authentic contact with one’s own unconscious, and to really grasp, through meaningful personal experience, how it functions. Personal analysis will also help the analyst in training (AiT) to solve any personal difficulties that he or she may have and will help him or her to differentiate, in future psychoanalytic treatments, what belongs to the patient and what belongs to him or her –– it is the foundation for psychoanalytic ethics. It also facilitates establishing the subtle dynamics of proximity-distance with patients.
Personal analysis takes place within a strictly confidential framework, just like any other analysis. There is no contact whatsoever between the AiT’s analyst and the Training Institute. It is entirely independent from the rest of training and its duration is not linked to it.
It is preferable for the first three years of analysis to take place before joining the Institute in order to limit any interference at the beginning of the treatment (as could happen through contact with one’s own analyst in the Institute or at scientific meetings in the APM), and thus protect the patient’s associative freedom from extraneous elements that would cloud the material.
Once this requisite has been met, the person who wishes to train as a psychoanalyst can ask the Training Committee for the admission interviews. These will allow the Committee to evaluate the future psychoanalyst’s mental functioning, capacity for insight and professional aptitude. The request to join the Institute can be accepted, postponed or rejected.
Once accepted, the analyst in training can begin clinical supervisions and theoretical seminars.
Clinical supervisions consist of the weekly discussion of clinical material of a patient, in analysis with the future psychoanalyst, with an experienced analyst of the APM, that can be freely chosen among the Training Analysts. Supervision can be best described as an in-depth one-on-one meeting in which the patient’s evolving mental states, and their effects on the analyst’s mind, can be worked on together with the supervisor in order to convey the practice of psychoanalysis to the future psychoanalyst. In order to complete requirements, one has to do two supervisions ––with different supervisors, preferably of different theoretical orientations––, with two patients in analysis, lasting a minimum of two years.
Theoretical seminars in the Madrid Institute take place on two parallel tracks that aim to combine a rigorous grasp of the defining elements of psychoanalysis with the freedom to explore one’s own personal interests. The first track consists of studying Freud for four years in order to acquire the fundamental discoveries of psychoanalysis and be familiar with the origins of later theories. The second track consists of a minimum of five year-long seminars ––freely chosen according to the analyst in training’s personal interests or educative needs–– that will deal with psychoanalytic technique, psychopathology, analytic listening, developmental phases, and also important authors such as Klein, Lacan, Winnicott, Bion, Kohut, Green, etc. The goal of the seminars it to broaden and deepen as much as possible the analyst’s clinical-theoretical references in order to afford him or her the greatest possible capacity for understanding.
Once the seminars and the supervisions have finished, if the analyst in training wishes to join the APM, he or she will have to write a dissertation on a non-supervised psychoanalytical treatment that will be assessed and discussed with a Reading Committee.
Although quite demanding, the conjunction of personal analysis, supervisions and seminars make training a highly stimulating phase of professional development and usually results in a significant deepening of the understanding of patients, and the help one can offer them.