Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Should I Become A Training Analyst?

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 11, 2015

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1993-2001, the years that I did psychoanalytic training. Eight challenging years involving heavy reading of the psychoanalytic literature,  four control cases, meaning patients that came multiple times a week, associated with weekly consultation with a senior psychoanalyst. I had four years of formal classes, followed by elective seminars with multiple case discussions and theoretical discussions. All of this was finalized by four papers (one on each patient), along with an oral examination proving that I had mastery of the material. After this long journey, September 9, 2001, I spoke at my graduation, thinking that this was the end of my long journey of being a student. I expressed deep gratitude to my teachers and mentors who had shepherded me through years of deep emotional growth and widening my worldly perspective. Since 2001 I have paid forward by voluntarily teaching at different psychoanalytic institutes and at UCLA. I have carried the baton, emphasizing the value of psychoanalytic thinking to help those who suffer. Now, fourteen years later, I am faced with another opportunity for growth. The New Center for Psychoanalysis is offering an expedited pathway towards becoming a training analyst, which means that if I join a study group, develop a committee to review my work, I can qualify to take an oral examination with my three person committee, along with a fourth person who will come from out of town to evaluate me. If I pass, I will then be on the list of training and supervising analysts, which means that I can help therapists become analysts, by treating them as patients, and/or supervising their case material. This leap represents a dilemma for me. On the one hand, I very much want to pay forward the efforts that I received through my analytic training. On the other hand, I am not sure that becoming a training and supervising analyst is necessary for that goal. On balance though, joining a study group is a good idea. I want to stay stimulated and engaged in my work. That is my first step, and I think I will take it.

6 Responses to “Should I Become A Training Analyst?”

  1. Shelly said

    What does joining a study group entitle you to do, though? You paid your dues, you are a trained analyst. You want the mental stimulation–I get it. You want to be part of the journey for the next group of psychoanalysts and mold the future. Does this involve a great deal of time on your part?

    • The study group is the first step of a three step process to be “ordained” as a training analyst, which means that therapists that want psychoanalytic training can see me for psychoanalysis and/or supervision. The time requirement after step one is not clear to me, so I am going to do step one, and then re-evaluate. I am a trained analyst, but the system, where I trained, requires another step to treat future psychoanalysts. This requirement is controversial, and some consider it “old school” but on the other hand, having some quality control over training analysts might make sense. Thanks.

  2. Eleanor said

    Shirah I continue to be amazed when I am reminded of the extensive training psychoanalysts such as yourself go through. Did you not also have a personal analysis as a “patient” as part of your training?…I ask this because I don’t think the general public realizes the part this also plays in one’s abilities to give the highest quality therapy and insight to your patients. I could be mistaken but it has been my impression a personal analysis is part of the requirements…?? Thanks.

    • Yes, Eleanor, you are absolutely right that I did not mention the most important part of my training was my personal analysis, in which I both grew as a person and as a professional. This was a large commitment of time and money, for which the dividends pay every day of my life. Thank you for pointing this out. As you say, there is no doubt that being on the other side of the couch is the BEST way to develop compassion for what it feels like to be so vulnerable day after day, with the strong hope that at the end of the therapy, there will be a stronger and more mature person. Thank you again.

      • Eleanor said

        “…..a large commitment of time and money, for which the dividends pay every day of my life.”
        Shirah I absolutely can’t get this descriptive quote out of my head….brilliantly said in this day of fast paced time and money and more money making. So many times if I dare mentioning the fact I had psychoanalytic treatment, people get uncomfortable and change the subject…see this as a sign of weakness or whatever or bring up the issue of insurance or lack of, etc. What a brilliant way to describe it like a “corporate investment” in which “dividends” pay off every day of ones life. Maybe in getting away from a “touchy feelie” description this would get the point across better without intimidation! ;-). Just thinkin’ …. And thanks!

        • Thanks, Eleanor. Yes, the language of the “outcome” of psychoanalysis is criticial to public understanding and so using financial terms is one way of impressing upon others the value of fundamental, rather than superficial, change. Thanks Again.

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