Questions Raised by the Report of the Psychoanalytic Consortium on Analytical Training.
Letter to Our American Colleagues.
In 2001, four major American psychoanalytic associations, grouped together under the umbrella designation of The Psychoanalytic Consortium, formally drafted and ratified a document titled “Standards of Psychoanalytic Education.” These four organizations are: the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, the National Membership Committee on Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, and Division 39 of the American Psychological Association. In her official presentation of the “Standards of Psychoanalytic Education,” Dr. Laurel Bass Wagner explains that this document is the fruit of compromise among the different opinions of the organizations that ratified it — a process that took roughly two years and, to some extent, left everyone involved dissatisfied (2). It nevertheless represents, in the words of Dr. Bass Wagner, “an enormous achievement.” In support of this document, the Consortium has established an entity called the Accreditation Council for Psychoanalytic Education (ACPE), which is seeking official recognition as the national accrediting body for psychoanalytic training institutes. The express goal of this body is to gain authorization from the US Department of Education as the accreditation center for psychoanalytic institutes in the United States.
Given the nature of the document and its grave implications for how psychoanalysis is understood and taught, for its very present and future, it appears crucial for us to join in this debate. Let’s do it by approaching the issue over a common point of reference: Freud’s own teaching. In light of the importance of the matter at hand, it is to be hoped that psychoanalytic associations will acquaint themselves with the Consortium’s proposal and voice their opinions regarding its aims and substance.
The impetus behind the “Report to the Psychoanalytic Consortium on Analytical Training” can be understood as an attempt to overcome the discrepancies among the training practices of the four major American psychoanalytic organizations, in order to achieve a high level of professionalism in the field and protect the public from malpractice. The document can also be seen as reflecting an effort on the part of psychoanalysts to assure their legitimate authority by establishing basic regulations for their profession, so as to avoid outside interference in their field from governement agencies, such as state or federal courts and legislatures. Finally, the document may be viewed as a strategic step towards the establishment of a coalition calling for recognition as the preeminent or sole authority over questions of accreditation in psychoanalysis, with power of selection and exclusion.