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Child / Adolescent Psychoanalysis

"Sun Sets as Boys Dig," Jannell Turner, 2013 .

“Sun Sets as Boys Dig,” Jannell Turner, 2013

The analysis of children and adolescents is an exciting and creative enterprise. It provides unique insights into the developing mind of the child. The treatment is based on the same principles and theory of mind as adult analysis. However, it is also guided by a very careful and thorough understanding of each child’s particular developmental stage, capacities and needs.

Many children already have complicated inner disturbances that derive from their particular endowment and complex early experiences. These become woven into unconscious fantasy constellations that then interfere with ongoing development. These constellations take much time to unravel and first require the careful building up of a trusting relationship between child and analyst.

Recent research has impressively shown the great advantage of the intensity of psychoanalytic treatment, even with very young children, for many of the anxiety disorders, as well as for the more severe behavior and relational disturbances of childhood. The research highlights that the intensity of treatment (four times a week) allows the child and adolescent the necessary continuity and strength of relationship with the analyst to fully explore and bring to light deeply hidden fears and anxieties.

Our Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis option is an advanced, non-credit elective curriculum. Licensed professionals whose scope of practice includes psychoanalysis may apply. Candidates who are enrolled in a license-qualifying program in psychoanalysis may also apply.
Approved faculty and supervisors are fully trained and experienced in child and adolescent assessment and analysis. Many originally trained in London with Anna Freud.


The first two years of courses are common to both adult and child analytic training, i.e. those on the psychoanalytic theory of the mind and on normal child and adolescent development. Those taking the Child Program specialty then meet for one seminar a week in addition to the adult course work. From the beginning, we immerse ourselves in studying clinical process material as well as reading the relevant papers.

In the first year we focus on issues of diagnostic assessment and the varieties of child and adolescent psychopathology, using clinical examples from different age groups. We emphasize evaluation of the child’s total personality, ego and object relational strengths, and on distinguishing between the neurotic conflicts and the developmental lags and deviations that may derive from multiple causes.

In the second year, we study the criteria for choosing analytic treatment for the young patient and the principles of technique evolved for establishing an analytic process with the three different age groups–preschool, latency, and adolescent. This involves the setting up of the therapeutic alliance, careful analysis of defenses, choice and timing of interpretation, and the understanding of transference issues in children. There is an ongoing respect for developmental considerations: for example the particular developmental needs of the younger vs. older adolescent in treatment. Throughout, we emphasize concurrent work with parents, families, schools and other professionals with whom consultation may be advisable.

In the third and fourth years, these many issues are further pursued and explored via the continuous case presentations, the ongoing study of one case throughout a semester, from each of the three age groups.

Finally there is a seminar further devoted to the variations in psychoanalytic technique necessary in the analysis of borderline, narcissistic, and delinquent children and adolescents.

Control Cases

Candidates undertake the four-times-weekly analysis of two children, one boy and one girl, from different age groups, i.e. preschool, latency, and adolescence. There is a combined minimum total of two hundred supervisory hours.

Case Presentation

Graduation requires a Case Presentation where candidates are asked to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the analytic process at work in the treatment of one of their child or adolescent patients.

For further information please contact Kim Kleinman, Co-Chair, at 646-942-8716.

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