How We Do It
Opening Doors to Psychoanalytic Education
When BGSP was founded in 1973, the only other psychoanalytic institute in Massachusetts required a medical degree for admission. This practice reflected the view at the time among American classical psychoanalytic institutes, in contrast to their European counterparts, that psychoanalysis was a specialty of medicine, an issue that Freud addressed in 1926 in his essay, The Question of Lay Analysis [i].
BGSP’s founders believed that resolution of a student’s resistances to understanding psychoanalytic material is the chief requirement for becoming a psychoanalyst, regardless of prior field of study. As an independent psychoanalytic training institute, BGSP offered admission to students from all walks of life who were interested in Freud’s philosophy, requiring only a graduate degree in any field for entry. This opened doors for anyone with a master’s degree who wanted to learn to practice psychoanalysis or to apply psychoanalytic techniques to their life’s work.
Today, BGSP deepens this legacy by providing graduate education at both the master’s and doctoral levels to qualified applicants who are interested in developing an understanding of the human mind, regardless of their prior area of education.
BGSP’s Master of Arts in Psychoanalysis degree was authorized by the state of Massachusetts in 1994. This was followed closely by authorization of BGSP’s Doctor of Psychoanalysis degree in 1999. Today BGSP offers master’s degrees in Psychoanalysis, Mental Health Counseling, and Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture; doctoral degrees in Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture; Certificates of Advanced Graduate Study in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Child and Adolescent Intervention; as well as BGSP’s original offering, the Certificate in Psychoanalysis. In addition, BGSP opened a branch campus in Manhattan in 2005, the New York Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, which offers the same Master of Arts in Psychoanalysis degree. In 2014, BGSP opened another branch campus in New Jersey which also offers the Master of Arts is Psychoanalysis and a Master of Arts in Psychoanalytic Counseling.
Opening Doors to Learning: The Educational Process
A BGSP education is a collaborative journey that fosters both the intellectual and emotional lives of each student.
Naturally, didactic coursework plays an important role in graduate study, with BGSP’s faculty lending their expertise in clinical, practical, and scholarly applications of psychoanalytic thought. In addition, in most programs at BGSP, students begin working in the field under supervision early in their education, whether in mental health counseling or psychoanalytic observation fieldwork. Through internships, clinical supervision, independent research, and seminar discussions, students engage in an open exploration of all facets of the human psyche.
Consistent with the emphasis on “the talking cure” (a common nickname for psychoanalysis), class attendance and participation are considered essential parts of the learning process in all programs. In some psychoanalytic courses, particularly when the material presented is emotionally difficult to absorb, the instructor uses a method known as “process teaching,” employing the class process and the experience of the participants to demonstrate concepts being taught in the classroom. The class explores individual and group resistances to reading assignments, to discussing and understanding material, and to functioning cooperatively as a group, as part of the class process. This helps students further understand the course material, the importance of recognizing and resolving resistance, and the operation of the unconscious – important skills in working with individuals and groups.[ii]
Additionally, in order to fully explore the workings of the human psyche, each student participates in a personal training analysis. The training analysis deepens the student’s understanding of course material through personal experience. It increases the student’s access to all emotional states and increases self-understanding, which is particularly critical for clinical training.
The BGSP student brings much more than his or her intellect to the table. By investing in themselves, students learn to recognize, tolerate, and use their emotional responses as the basis for constructive exchange with others in both personal and professional settings. Combined with an in-depth understanding of psychoanalytic theory and the development of skills for the workplace, this helps students unlock their own power and potential.
[i] Freud, S. (1959). The Question of Lay Analysis. (J. Strachey & A. Freud, Trans.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (pp. 179-258). London, United Kingdom: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis. (Original works published 1925-26).
[ii] See Meadow, P.W. (1988) Emotional Education: The Theory and Process of Training Psychoanalysts. Modern Psychoanalysis 13:207-390; Liegner, E.J. (2010). Focused Countertransference Exploration in Classroom Teaching of Modern Psychoanalytic Candidates. Modern Psychoanalysis, 35:1-23; and Kirman, William J. (1977) Modern Psychoanalysis in the Schools. Dubuque, Iowa : Kendall/Hunt.