by Susan Rodgers, Chair PPA Training Committee
Susan Hall, Training Committee Member
Elizabeth Ford, Training Committee Member
“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” (Henry Ford)
This year the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association (PPA) of the British Psychotherapy Foundation (bpf) is celebrating its fifth birthday and the realization of a long-held goal. It is now five years since three well-established training institutions agreed to combine forces to form a new organization, the British Psychotherapy Foundation, in order to take psychoanalytic psychotherapy into the future.
The process of coming together entailed lengthy negotiations before the Lincoln Centre, based in South London, the British Association of Psychotherapy (BAP) in Kilburn and the London Centre for Psychotherapy (LCP) in Kentish Town agreed to a merger. In the process they created the largest psychoanalytic psychotherapy training organization in the UK, the PPA, with over 500 members. The long process which then began of establishing a new training was sustained by the shared commitment to both intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy and membership of the BPC. The intention was not only to combine the best practice of the three previous organizations but also to incorporate new elements to make it relevant to the realities of contemporary practice in the twenty-first century.
The new PPA committee, made up of representatives of the three pre-merger Training Committees, then began the complex task of agreeing on curricula, standards, policies and procedures. Early meetings often involved passionate arguments in favour of 'our' way of working but over time the differences were worked through and the new Training Committee started to cohere. The process was always infused with energy and often pleasure while arguments and cross words made their own contribution to the meticulous work of creating a new training framework with an accompanying sense of ownership. Protecting and developing psychoanalytic psychotherapy was one of the reasons for the merger so the determination to put a strong training at the heart of the newly formed bpf was a powerful motivator. Gradually, the discussions yielded a liberating sense of shared focus and the capacity to be innovative, while drawing on three rich institutional histories, with the result that the process became strikingly vibrant and creative.
The reality of the first intake of trainees to the programme provided further impetus for development. Systems are in place for them to provide regular feedback on their experience which in turn enables continuous quality development. Throughout, there is a strong mentoring system to support trainees from the point of application through to when they are ready to be self-supporting in their practice. The PPA training is firmly rooted in the apprenticeship model rather than the academic, with a holistic approach to the development of an effective practitioner.
The training is designed on traditional lines of an intensive personal therapy or analysis and two intensive training cases to instill the principles of working psychoanalytically and in depth. With that grounding in working in the transference, it has been possible to look afresh at the realities in contemporary practice of once and twice weekly work and make some provision for it. As a result, trainees who are interested to see some patients at a lower frequency may do so, once both training cases are well established and an analytic stance has been internalized. They are supervised and supported by seminars on lower frequency work. Another extension to the fundamental psychoanalytic training is an introduction to the two applied psychoanalytic models – Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT) and Mentalized-Based Therapy (MBT). Graduates are entering a world where even in private practice intensive work can be more difficult to find, but working in depth psychoanalytically is at the heart of what this training can offer and remains a valuable basis to all clinical work whether in institutional or private settings.
It has been very confirming of all the work achieved together to receive the first Annual Report by the BPC External Examiner, Elizabeth Coates Thummel. In it she talks of “….the very positive view I have formed of the training and the serious calibre of work being undertaken by trainees, teaching staff and the Training Committee.” Further back-up has been offered by the bpf in the form of launching a new bursary fund to help trainees who might otherwise not be able to afford training, a development which honours the commitment to actively supporting diversity by making training accessible to a wider range of people.
Separately but importantly, this year the PPA will be introducing business training designed to prepare trainees for the practicalities of private practice. This will include seminars on the legal and financial obligations of self-employment, marketing psychotherapy within ethical requirements and Health and Safety issues regarding lone working and the safety of patients.
The story of this successful coming together, finding ways of staying together and working together has been a deeply satisfying one in a professional field where splits and divisions can seem more common. It makes for a strong organization confident in its own creativity as well as appreciative of the contribution of colleagues from other organizations who have been involved in the training in their roles as Training Therapists, Training Supervisors and seminar leaders. Others are greatly valued for their referrals to the Clinic, the training and the Low Fee Scheme. All are warmly invited to extend the spirit of collaboration engendered during the last five years by further involvement in PPA training development. A special 5th anniversary party is planned to thank them for their contribution to this new initiative and to celebrate the outcome with everyone.
With over 40 trainees now in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy training, the fifth anniversary is a landmark opportunity to look back on what we have achieved and to set new goals for the future. After some painful labour pains five years ago, it is pleasing to be able to report that it is thriving and growing steadily and well. Members, trainees and colleagues of the PPA will be raising a glass to the fruits of collaboration past, present and future.