Relational Psychoanalysis

Our principal text will be the book: Barsness, Roy (Ed.). (2018) Core Competencies of Relational Psychoanalysis; A Guide to Practice, Study and Research. NY: Routledge. This book is organized with individual chapters written by many of the key figures in contemporary relational psychoanalysis. You can purchase this book through Routledge, Relational Perspective Book Series or Amazon.

There is never enough time to cover all that excites us and requires our attention in these challenging times. The podcast, the chapter on culture, and the final article by Francisco Gonzales will hopefully offer a taste of how others are thinking about the complexity of our external and internal worlds.

Karen Weisbard is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice working with adults, leading consult groups for therapists interested in deepening their understanding and clinical practice in relational psychoanalysis and writing and presenting on intersubjectivity. She is on the faculty at SPSI.

Michael Allison is a psychotherapist in private practice with adolescents and adults. He is a graduate of SPSI’s adult and child psychotherapy programs and has a background in film studies and music production.

Adolescent Development

This course will use a psychoanalytic lens to view the progression from early adolescence to emerging adulthood. We will examine sub phases of adolescence, then move into common treatment issues. We will address working with issues around gender and sexuality, individuation, and the role of adolescence in treatment of adults.

If you would like an overview of child development, please use Gilmore and Meersand, (2015), The Little Book of Child and Adolescent and Development. New York: Oxford Press.

Self Psychology

Welcome to Self Psychology! We look forward to our learning together.

This course is designed to be an overview of self psychology. The course traces the emergence of this theory from classical psychoanalytic thought and ego psychology and its relationship to object relations theory. The course covers key concepts developed by Heinz Kohut, including the bipolar self, the vertical and horizontal split, role of self object needs and human relationship in development and the origins of psychopathology. The course outlines the curative process of therapeutic action, including the role of empathy, self-object transferences, optimal frustration, rupture and repair processes, and healthy self structure emerging from transmuting internalization in treatment. Kohut’s critical value to the history of psychoanalysis is that despite his ardent belief and practice as “Mr. Psychoanalysis” in the classical tradition, his ideas produced a radical paradigm shift. He put human relationship at the center of both development, psychopathology, and cure. Rather than the psyche being tossed about by intrapsychic drives and instincts, he put the Self at the center. The self, no longer victim of the drives, could be cohesive, organized, and strengthened, leading to greater zest for life and resilience in the face of suffering.

It’s helpful to understand the historical context in which a great thinker’s ideas emerge. Heinz Kohut was trained as a psychoanalyst in the classical tradition. He was born in Vienna in 1913 to upper-middle class assimilated Jewish parents. His father was a classical pianist who went into business and his mother opened her own shop and prioritized socializing. His mother kept him at home with tutors until 5th grade. His studies were rich in Greek and Latin language and literature. He studied in Paris and became fluent in French. He began medical studies at University of Vienna in 1932. His father died from leukemia in 1937 and he began an analysis in 1938 with August Aichhorn, a close friend of Freud. By March of 1938, the Nazi’s had invaded Vienna and all Jewish property was confiscated and all professors removed from the university, however Kohut had not yet taken his final exams. After much difficulty, he completed his exams, left as a refugee to Kent, England, and eventually was sponsored for a visa by a Viennese musician friend in Chicago. Most of his extended family died in the Holocaust. He completed neurology and psychiatry residency at University of Chicago. He was active in the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and was president of APsaA 1964-65. He reformulated his classical analytic stance into what we now call Self Psychology in his 50’s and 60’s. He married and had one son. He died from cancer in 1981.

An Introduction to Object Relations Theory

Welcome! We are excited to learn together about the expansion of psychoanalytic thought after Freud. We’ll move from the Freudian movement, across the sea to Scotland with Fairbairn, then locate ourselves in London where Melanie Klein articulated her theoretical expansion on Freud, and applied the method to children. She brings us directly into the primitive elements of the psyche. The battles between the Anna Freudians and the Melanie Kleinians, “controversial discussions,” yielded a “Middle School” – Winnicott, Bowlby, Sharp, and Mahler. The middle school was the roots for Bowlby’s followers, Ainsworth and Main, and the origins of attachment theory. We’ll move into more contemporary object relations theory with Bion, Meltzer, and Ogden. We are eager to work as a strong learning community as we all navigate the ups and downs of Zoom education, so please speak up! Tell us how it is for you, what you want more or less of, and how we can facilitate learning in this strange historical time.

Pre-Oedipal and Oedipal Development

As children move from infancy to latency/pre-adolescence multiple intersecting aspects of development occur—intense emotional experience of transformation in object relating, accommodation to reality (and associated mourning), capacity for ambivalence and greater affect tolerance (love, hate, rivalry), capacity for imaginary play and symbolic thought, mentalization (theory of mind), identification with aspects of both parents and the parental couple, core gender identity, racial/ethnic identity and the formation and consolidation of the superego and ego ideal. The implications of this early period of development truly reverberate throughout the lifespan.

We will explore early and contemporary ideas and theories as well as several papers that focus on clinical vignettes. In our last class we will consider how young children experience immigration, focusing specifically on forced/emergent migration which results in family separation and other forms of complex trauma. Throughout the class, I encourage you to bring in clinical examples from your own work to further our discussion. I welcome your feedback on the course and the readings as we proceed.

What Makes Therapy Psychoanalytic?

There are many theories and schools of thought within psychoanalysis. You will be studying a number of different orientations over the next two years. You will undoubtedly notice how they overlap at time, or how they differentiate in important  ways at other times. However, the significance of the dynamic unconscious is fundamental to all, and we have chosen to focus on the ubiquity of the unconscious, and how we as clinicians can best serve the people who come to us, by respecting and listening to their unconscious as well as their conscious communication. This is a unifying concept in psychoanalysis, a foundational principle. And we chose to begin with an important aspect of what unites us as psychoanalytic clinicians.

We have prepared a syllabus that we hope you will find interesting and useful. We look forward to hearing your objectives for yourselves in beginning this program. We welcome feedback on the course and the readings as we proceed. This course and this syllabus are also dynamic undertakings and we are ready to respond to the group’s wishes and interests as we work together.

Infancy and Attachment: Towards an Understanding of our Earliest Ways of Knowing

This course is meant to introduce you to the concepts of development from birth (including an understanding of the minds and circumstances of parents) to the oedipal and pre-oedipal stages. We will approach this from both a historical perspective and also include contemporary theorist who have added to and challenged psychoanalytic orthodoxy. As analyst we believe that an understanding of earliest development allows us to not only work with children, but also to understand primitive mental states in the adults we treat.

Integrated Child & Adult Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (iCAPP) Program

Applications Due May 31

iCAPP is forging ahead with our plans for the 2020-22 program starting in September. We hope that you are all managing to stay safe and sane during these challenging times.

This is a reminder that iCAPP Program applications are due by May 31. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding your application.

The links to download the application and the Ethical Disclosure Form are near the bottom of this page.


The practice of psychotherapy is a meaningful and intensely demanding occupation. Clients continually challenge our ways of thinking and understanding, allowing endless opportunities for therapist growth. Clinical work can also leave the practitioner feeling unsure how to best work with the people who have turned to him/her for help. The work can sometimes feel isolating.

Our new two-year iCAPP Program aims to help psychotherapists:

  • Listen to their clients in new ways, including parents of children who are in therapy
  • Understand more of their clients’ inner worlds including techniques for working with children
  • Recognize the unconscious dynamics in their clients, in themselves and in the therapeutic relationship
  • Understand, with a greater sense of nuance, how diverse cultural, racial and social circumstances have impacted their clients, adults and children, and their own inner worlds
  • Think developmentally and holistically about the people they see
  • Tolerate greater ambiguity in the midst of difficult work
  • Practice in a deeper, more satisfying way with their clients.

Participants in the iCAPP Program come from diverse practice environments including community mental health clinics, hospitals, private practice, and a variety of school and university settings. Whatever your background, and whether you do short-term or long-term work, the iCAPP Program offers theoretical foundations that inform practical ways to think more deeply about the work you do and the people you treat.

An additional benefit is the opportunity to meet new colleagues with whom you share this experience and collaborate in learning. You will also become acquainted with experienced mentors and practitioners in the field.

Graduates of the program remain part of the Seattle area’s active psychoanalytic community, which offers many opportunities for intellectual and professional growth.


iCAPP Schedule 2021-22

In the first year, the entire cohort studies psychoanalytic theory and human development together. In the second year, there are classes specific to working with children or adults in addition to integrated classes that the cohort takes together. Throughout each year, the biweekly case conference is divided into two groups: one working with children and adolescents and the other working with adults. Case material is presented by students, with instructors facilitating the discussion.

Classes meet on Mondays from 6:30-9:15pm. There are four “blocks” each academic year; each block is eight weeks long and there are generally two didactic classes each block (sometimes three). Case conference is on alternating Thursdays from 7-8:30pm.

Personal Psychotherapy

The work of psychotherapy draws upon the inner world of the clinician. The experience of one’s own psychotherapy or psychoanalysis is important for every therapist; when we understand and know ourselves, we can better understand and appreciate the people who come to us for help. Working in your own therapy will increase the usefulness and pleasure you derive from the program.


Regular consultation on your clinical cases underscores and brings to life the concepts and ideas you learn in your classes.

Personal psychotherapy and individual case consultation are encouraged while participating in the program.

If you have questions about this, or would like additional information, please contact the program Chair.

Relationship with the SPSI Community and The American Psychoanalytic Association

iCAPP Program students and graduates are an integral and valued part of the SPSI community.

Students are listed in the SPSI member directory and receive student discounts at SPSI sponsored events. Students have use of the library, the largest psychoanalytic library in the Northwest. Students also have access to the PEP-Web, a vast online database of psychoanalytic journals, books, papers and other writings.

iCAPP Program graduates continue to be involved as members of SPSI in a number of capacities, including: teaching, committee memberships, study groups, and participation in various scientific programs that SPSI offers.

iCAPP Program students and graduates are eligible for affiliation with the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) through the Psychotherapist Associate Category.


The admission process consists of submitting an application and having two interviews. We will want to talk with you about your interest in the program, your clinical experiences, and what you hope to gain from participating in the iCAPP Program.

We welcome questions you may have about the program. Applications for the 2020-22 cohort are due May 31st, 2020. Download the application and the ethical disclosure form by clicking the links below.

iCAPP Program Application Form

Ethical Disclosure Form 2020


Tuition is $2,640 per year for the two-year program. Tuition is payable in two installments of $1,320: the first in September and the second in January.

Further information regarding the iCAPP Program can be obtained at or by calling SPSI at (206) 328-5315.

Accreditation, CME Credit, Disclosure Information

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation require-ments and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of American Psychoanalytic Association and the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 105.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose.

This program has been approved for 105.5 CEUs by the NASW Washington State Chapter. Licensed Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Mental Health Counselors are eligible. Provider number is #1975-144.