Psychoanalysts are experienced mental health clinicians, usually from the fields of psychiatry (MD), clinical psychology (PhD) or social work (MSW), who have undergone a thorough training in psychoanalytic theory and technique. Outstanding scholars from other fields sometimes also become psychoanalysts, after obtaining requisite mental health training as part of their psychoanalytic education.
In addition to their professional degree and clinical training, psychoanalysts complete a five- to ten-year program of intensive psychoanalytic education, including a personal analysis, closely supervised clinical work and four years of formal seminars. Child and adolescent analysts undertake additional years of education and supervised practice in helping children and their parents.
Psychoanalytic education encompasses over a century of theoretical and clinical advances, from the early discoveries of Freud about unconscious conflict through contemporary theories emphasizing the importance of self-esteem, relationships, gender, trauma, and empathy. The depth and rigor of a psychoanalyst’s training promotes a level of professional skill, personal stability, and ethical responsibility that is second to none in the mental health field.