SFCP Adult Psychoanalytic Training Program

Applying for Psychoanalytic Training

The Admissions Committee strives to make applying for admission to psychoanalytic training as straightforward as possible.  If admissions procedures are unclear at any point, please email our Education Program Coordinator Tina Phu (tina.phu@sfcp.org). If you have more substantive questions about any aspect of the admissions process, please feel free to contact one of our Admissions Co-Chairs, Maureen Ruffell, MD (meruffellmd@alumni.tufts.edu) or Dena Sorbo, LCSW (dena.sorbo@gmail.com). Finally, if you would like help at any point during the process of applying, feel free to contact Adam Goldyne MD, Chair of Outreach (adamgoldynemd@gmail.com), who is impartial to and stands apart from Admissions Committee evaluations.

Application Form

The application period for the 2024-2025 Psychoanalytic Education Division has closed. The application form for the 2025-2026 academic year will be available soon.

Application Timeline

When applying, please keep in mind the following considerations regarding timing:

  1. Applications for Fall 2024 are being accepted now.
  2. Applicants wishing to begin training in Fall of 2024 must be in a personal psychoanalysis with an SFCP-approved Training Analyst – meeting at a frequency of three or more times per week – by May 2024 (see section on Personal Psychoanalysis for details)
  3. Up to 9 candidates may begin psychoanalytic training in Fall 2024.
  4. The Admissions Committee reviews applications in the order they are received, September through June, and makes offers of admissions on a rolling basis.
  5. Because of the rolling nature of admissions, those interested in beginning training in Fall 2024 should consider applying as soon as possible. Applications received after May 1 may not be
    reviewed until September, for matriculation in Fall 2025.
  6. The Admissions Committee will continue to accept and consider applications, even after all positions in the Fall 2024 class have been filled. Applications accepted at this point will be:
    • placed on the waiting list for Fall 2024 matriculation in case those already accepted elect to defer training, or
    • offered admission for Fall 2025.
  7. If, at the time an application is received, the Fall 2024 class is full and the waiting list is already too long to make Fall 2024 admission possible, SFCP will notify applicants that review of their application may be delayed, and they will be considered for matriculation in Fall 2025.
  8. Given the rolling nature of admissions, at any point you may contact one of our Admissions Co-Chairs, Maureen Ruffell, MD (meruffellmd@alumni.tufts.edu) or Dena Sorbo, LCSW (dena.sorbo@gmail.com), to determine whether consideration for Fall 2023 remains possible.

    SFCP Center-Wide Policies

    Before applying, please visit our SFCP Statements and Policies page to review our policies that all participants in SFCP programs agree to uphold.

    Program-Specific Policies

    In addition to the center-wide policies, the following policies are specific to our Psychoanalytic Training Program:

    Please review SFCP’s current policies and procedures for Hybrid Learning, available at this link

    All SFCP Trainees must attest to the following and provide any requested information:

    • Has there ever been a complaint of ethical misconduct or unprofessional conduct brought against you that resulted in a determination of misconduct and ensuing sanction?
    • Has there ever been a complaint or investigation of you concerning impairment?
    • Have you ever been suspended from teaching or administrative functions in relation to a professional ethics or impairment issue?
    • Has your membership in a professional or educational organization ever been suspended or terminated in relation to a professional ethics or impairment issue?
    • Has there ever been a finding against you by a professional licensing board?

    Who may apply?

    Mental health clinicians
    SFCP encourages applications from mental health clinicians licensed in California, including those holding D.M.H., L.C.S.W., L.M.F.T., L.P.C.C., M.D., N.P., Ph.D., or Psy.D. degrees.

    • Psychiatrists must be graduates of approved medical schools, must have completed psychiatric residency, must have experience practicing psychotherapy, and must be licensed in California.
    • Doctoral-level clinicians must have doctoral-level degrees in clinical disciplines from approved programs, must have experience practicing psychotherapy, and must be licensed in California.
    • Masters-level clinicians and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners must hold a relevant clinical degree from an approved program; must have experience practicing psychotherapy; and must be licensed in California.

    Transfer applicants

    SFCP accepts candidates who wish to transfer from other accredited member organizations of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  Transfer candidates must submit a transcript, letters of recommendation, and confirmation that they are in good standing at the member organization.  The Admissions Committee may ask for an abbreviated interview process before forwarding the application to the Dean, the Chair of the Curriculum Committee, and the Chair of the Progressions and Graduation Committee so that the candidate may be placed with the appropriate cohort and given credit for the previous psychoanalytic training where appropriate.  

    SFCP also considers transfer applications from trainees at accredited member organizations of the International Psychoanalytic Association.  These trainees undergo a full admission process culminating in a decision whether to accept, defer, or decline admission. If admitted, and if the candidate is requesting credit for the previous training, their transcript, letters of recommendation, and confirmation of in good standing status is reviewed by the Dean, the Chair of the Curriculum Committee and the Chair of the Progressions Committee to determine if credit can be awarded and to decide which cohort best fits the candidate’s situation. 

    Please contact one of our Admissions Co-Chairs, Maureen Ruffell, MD (meruffellmd@alumni.tufts.edu) or Dena Sorbo, LCSW (dena.sorbo@gmail.com) to discuss your situation if you wish to enter as a transfer candidate.


    Letters of recommendation

    After your application has been received, Tina Phu, the SFCP Education Coordinator, will request letters of recommendation from the individuals you have specified on the Application Form. These letters of recommendation will become part of your application packet to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.


    Once your application has been received, you will be contacted by someone on the Admissions Committee who will discuss the interview process with you. They will provide you with the names and contact information of your four interviewers (2 personal interviewers and 2 clinical interviewers). You should reach out to these interviewers as soon as possible to schedule meetings at dates and times of mutual convenience. You and your interviewers will discuss whether your interviews will be conducted virtually or at the interviewer’s office.

    Two separate personal interviews

    Personal interviews will be an opportunity to expand and reflect upon what you have shared in your autobiography.  Occasionally, it may be valuable for a personal interview to extend to more than one meeting, with the exact number of sessions determined during the interview. The personal interview is meant to help the Admissions Committee learn as much as possible about you as a person and about how your history impacts your readiness for training.  We consider what you tell us about your life in your autobiography: your experiences with family members and others who matter greatly to you; your emotional and intellectual development; your understanding of how you came to feel a vocation for clinical work; and why you want to be an analyst. Interviewers will ask you to elaborate – on your personal history, on your relationships with others, and on challenges you have faced – and will actively engage in thinking with you about what you share.

    Some of the qualities that we look for in applicants include emotional maturity, intelligence, psychological-mindedness, creativity, curiosity, emotional openness, resilience, and cultural sensitivity. We are interested in applicants who demonstrate the capacities for self-reflection, self-evaluation, flexible thinking, self-directed learning and critical thinking.  We also appreciate the capacities to consider diverse perspectives, to reflect on the position of the other in interpersonal interactions, and to work constructively in groups.

    Interviewers strive to be sensitive to the anxiety-provoking and intimate nature of the topics that come up in the personal interviews. They aim for a conversation that is meaningful and has emotional resonance and depth, but that is not meant to replicate a clinical hour.

    Two separate clinical interviews

    As part of the admissions process, you should prepare to present clinical material from two open-ended psychoanalytic psychotherapy treatments of your choice and to engage with your interviewers in discussing this work. You will discuss one of the two cases you have prepared with each interviewer.  It is up to you to decide which case to present to each.

    • Format of clinical interviews: If your interviewers have specific preferences regarding your presentation’s format, they will let you know prior to the interview. In general, however, you should be prepared to start with a very brief (i.e., 5-10 minute) description of the way the treatment started, of its duration and frequency, and of major highlights of the patient’s early life, life story and sociocultural background, and how this intersects with their current situation. Please also include notable events in the treatment leading up to the sessions that you intend to present. You then should be prepared to discuss process notes that you have prepared and shared with your interviewer in advance.
    • Process Notes: Please prepare two sessions of process notes for each case you plan to present, describing the back and forth of the session. Instructions will be provided by your interviewer for sharing a copy of the process notes confidentially for use during your interview. Please write your process notes in transcript format according to the example shown below:
         Patient: [Looking downcast]. I don’t feel like talking today …
         Clinician: [Feeling anxious] What’s holding you back?

    Please note that we do not expect or desire a literal, word-for-word, transcript, as if from an audio recording. Rather, we are asking for your best attempt — from notes or memory — to convey the back and forth of a session in transcript format. Over the course of the presentation, you and your interviewer will reflect upon, and discuss, the treatment process with a focus on your clinical work and thinking.

    • Purpose of clinical interviews: The purpose of the clinical interviews is not for you to demonstrate psychoanalytic expertise, but rather for your interviewer to get to know you as a thinker and learner. We ask that you prepare your notes and present your work with thought and care, and that you join your interviewer in reflecting with curiosity and openness about your patient’s experience; about your experience of treating the patient; and about psychological processes and challenges involved in the clinical work you present.
    • Choosing Cases: Clinical interviews are likely to involve two to three sessions with each interviewer, in order to have the opportunity to discuss a case over time. Occasionally, it may be valuable for a clinical interview to extend to more than three sessions, with the exact number of meetings determined in an open-ended way over the course of the presentation. We prefer that you present material from treatments that are in progress at the time of application. However, we understand that it may not be possible to meet these criteria. If so, please choose two cases from your past or present caseload that approximate our preferences as closely as possible.

    Admissions Decisions

    Once your interviews are complete, your application will be discussed at a meeting of the Admissions Committee. The committee meets monthly, usually on the first Thursday, between September and June. The entire Admissions Committee, including your four interviewers, will be present to discuss your application. You will be contacted soon thereafter to inform you of the decision.

    There are four possible outcomes to your application:

    1. Acceptance (for matriculation the following fall)
    2. A recommendation to reapply after gaining further experience in psychoanalytic approaches (e.g., a recommendation to pursue additional psychoanalytic psychotherapy study/supervision; a recommendation to begin a personal psychoanalysis or deepen a personal psychoanalytic psychotherapy)
    3. A request for further interviews to assess your readiness for psychoanalytic training
    4. A determination of incompatibility with our psychoanalytic training program at this time

    The goal of the Admissions Committee is to develop candidates for training. If you are not accepted for training at this time, someone from the committee will inform you of the committee’s rationale for the decision. They will further answer any questions you might have about the process or the outcome, and give you the opportunity to provide your feedback. They will also discuss in detail the ways that you might continue to develop yourself personally and/or professionally if the committee makes a recommendation that you reapply for training after undertaking some additional work. This might include getting further psychoanalytically-oriented supervision to develop your clinical work to a point that will support a training process, or could include beginning psychotherapy/psychoanalysis if it is felt that further personal development would better prepare you to begin training.

    If you are a close relative of a member of the Center, the SFCP Admissions Committee will not review your application. Rather, we will request that another member organization of the American Psychoanalytic Association evaluate it and make an admissions decision. Please contact one of our Admissions Co-Chairs, Maureen Ruffell, MD (meruffellmd@alumni.tufts.edu) or Dena Sorbo, LCSW (dena.sorbo@gmail.com), to discuss arrangements for having your application reviewed by another member organization. SFCP will abide by the member organization’s decision regarding your application.

    After Admission to Psychoanalytic Training

    1. Within one week of the verbal acceptance from the Admissions Committee, you will receive a formal letter of acceptance, via email, from the Chair of the Psychoanalytic Education Division, along with an Acceptance of Admission Form. Please sign and return the Acceptance of Admission Form to the SFCP Education Coordinator by the date indicated on your acceptance letter.
    2. The Admissions Committee will make your acceptance known to the administrative staff, the Chair of the Psychoanalytic Education Division, the Outreach Chair, the Chair of the Curriculum Committee, and the Dean.
    3. By the time of program enrollment in May, you are required to have begun a personal psychoanalysis at a minimum of three times per week with a Training Analyst approved by SFCP. You are encouraged to begin your personal psychoanalysis as soon as possible.
    4. By May 1, you will receive a Psychoanalytic Training Program Enrollment Form which you must complete and return by May 31 to guarantee your place in the Fall 2024 class. The form contains information regarding the upcoming training year and requires the following:
      1. A detachable form (which will be kept separate from your Enrollment Form and viewable only by the PED Chair Beth Steinberg) which requests the name of your analyst, and affirms that by May 2024 you have begun a personal psychoanalysis with an SFCP-approved Training Analyst at a frequency of three times per week or more (even if the application process is not complete in May)
      2. Notification to the Curriculum Committee Chair regarding any clinical conflicts you have with any instructors scheduled to teach in Year 1.
      3. A commitment that you will abide by all mandatory SFCP policies for confidentiality, attendance, feedback, and hybrid learning as described on the website and in the Enrollment Form
      4. An online payment form which requires submission of a credit card for the selected tuition payment plan of your choosing
      5. Payment of a non-refundable deposit towards your tuition for the upcoming year.
    5. If you have been admitted, you may choose to defer training for up to three years after acceptance. If you are interested in analytic training after that point, a new application must be submitted.
    6. If you have requested credit for training that you have begun at another organization, SFCP’s Progressions and Graduation Committee, Dean, and Curriculum Committee will collaborate to determine whether credit can be assigned for your previous or ongoing supervised psychoanalysis or for coursework you have completed.
    7. For planning purposes, please be aware that — barring conflict with major holidays — classes will begin the first Friday after Labor Day (8:00am – 1:45pm), and all incoming candidates are requested to attend an Orientation to psychoanalytic training on the Wednesday before classes begin (7:30-9:30pm).

    Upcoming Events

    Wednesdays, September 4, 2024 to October 9, 2024
    Psychoanalytic Student Seminars
    Social Work in Community Settings: How Theory Supports Effective Alliances
    Corey Datz-Greenberg, LCSW, and Kissu Taffere, LCSW (instructors)
    Fridays, September 6, 2024 to June 20, 2025
    Extension Education Programs
    2024-2025 San Francisco Yearlong Program: Inventions of Madness: Grappling with Turmoil
    Ania Wertz, PhD, PsyD; Diana C. Fuery, PhD, LCSW; Alexander Zinchenko, PhD; Alice Jones, MD; Deborah Weisinger, PsyD; Fernando Castrillon, PsyD; Inti Flores, MD; Shelley Nathan, PhD; and Catherine Mallouh, MD (instructors)
    Fridays, September 13, 2024 to June 6, 2025
    Extension Education Programs
    2024-2025 East Bay Yearlong Program: Letting the Unconscious Lead the Way
    Graeme Daniels, MFT; Elizabeth Stuart, MD; Eric Miller, PhD; Ben Goldstone, MA, LMFT; Pedro Job, PsyM; and Paul Watsky, PhD (instructors)
    Saturday, September 14, 2024
    Child Colloquium Series
    Working with the Harsh Adolescent Superego
    Holly Gordon, DMH (presenter); Ann Martini, LCSW (discussant)
    Thursdays, September 19 to October 17, 2024
    Coalition for Clinical Social Work
    CCSW mini-Module: Working with Parents: A Complex and Essential Component of Child Psychotherapy
    Lea Brown, LCSW, and Amy Wallerstein Friedman, LCSW (instructors)
    Fridays, September 20, 2024 to May 23, 2025
    Extension Education Programs
    2024-2025 San Francisco Yearlong Program: Continuous Case Conference
    Marc Wallis, LCSW; Paul Alexander, PhD; Kathy Waller, MD; Bronwen Lemmon, LMFT; and Genie Dvorak, PsyD (case conference group leaders)
    Wednesdays, October 2, 2024 to October 23, 2024
    Psychoanalytic Student Seminars
    Winnicott, Creativity, and the Place Where We Live
    Marty Mulkey, MFT (instructor)
    Saturday, October 5, 2024
    Scientific Meetings
    Dr. Arnold Richards’s Memoir: Unorthodox: My Life Inside and Outside of Psychoanalysis
    Arnold Richards, MD (in conversation); Charles Fisher, MD (moderator)
    Wednesdays, October 16, 2024 to May 7, 2025
    Extension Education Programs
    2024-2025 Seasoned Clinicians Program
    Reyna Cowan, PsyD, LCSW; Clara Kwun, LCSW; Robin Deutsch, PhD; Jeanne Harasemovitch, LCSW; Amy Glick, LMFT; and Gary Grossman, PhD (instructors)
    Saturday, November 2, 2024
    Scientific Meetings
    BORN SMALL, ADDICTED TO GUILT: Analytic treatment of a self-identified addict with special attention to underlying shame, plus guilt as a defense
    Graeme Daniels, MFT (presenter)
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