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Psychoanalytic Thinking at Work


Course overview

This year-long, online course will introduce you to some fundamental aspects of psychoanalytic theory in relation to human development and behaviour, including the unconscious mind, containment, object relations, transference and psychic defences.

Crucially, it will also give you the opportunity to observe and discuss the application of these theories in real-life contexts – deepening your understanding and allowing you to develop your capacity for reflective practice.

By the end of the course, you will have acquired a firm foundation of knowledge and skills – introducing ideas that help you think about yourself, your relationships and the world around you, and providing you with the space to consider your current role or start taking your career in a new direction.


Interested in applying?

Applications for the 2022/23 academic year are now open and will close on Wednesday 31 August 2022. We recommend submitting your application as soon as possible as places are limited.

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Further guidance on applying

We’ve prepared a guide of five top tips to help you complete the process of starting your application.

read our blog



Course aims

This interactive, online course will introduce you to the fundamentals of psychoanalytic thinking, while also giving you the opportunity to engage with the process of experiential learning. So, by the end of the academic year, you will have gained an understanding of a range of key psychoanalytic ideas, tried observing and reflecting on these in a work environment, and thoroughly discussed your experiences and impressions with your peers and our clinician-tutors.

Accessed through our bespoke online learning environment, all course materials are made available at the start of the year – allowing you to start working through the interactive lecture content, videos, online reading list and activities at your own pace. Core concepts are discussed in fortnightly reading group seminars – providing you with the opportunity for regular, live interaction and reflection on what you’ve learnt with your cohort and tutor.

You will also be asked to find a relevant workplace observation opportunity – this is a key part of the experiential learning process, and will form the basis of discussion in fortnightly work discussion seminars. This placement will deepen your understanding of the key psychoanalytic theories that you’re studying by allowing you to regularly observe interactions between members of staff and patients, clients, students or service users in a relevant setting. You will be asked to reflect and present on your experiences throughout the year, and invited to submit an optional Placement Reflection Paper.

Upon completion, this introductory course could support your application for further professional training programmes, including formal qualifications in psychotherapy or psychoanalytic psychotherapy. And, if you are interested in pursuing a career in this area, termly one-on-one tutorials will provide opportunities to discuss your aspirations and options with a Tavistock and Portman Trust clinician-tutor.


Course topics

The ‘Psychoanalytic Thinking at Work’ course will present a range of key psychoanalytic theories and discoveries – exploring how the human mind works and what makes us who we are; how psychoanalytic theory views human development and relationships; and the unconscious processes that govern group and organisational dynamics.

A summary of topics covered in the course can be found below:

Term 1:

  • Beginnings
  • Introducing the Unconscious
  • Infancy and the idea of containment
  • Early childhood and the Oedipal situation
  • Adolescence and early puberty

Term 2:

  • Adulthood and later life
  • Klein and the Paranoid Schizoid Position
  • Klein and the Depressive Position
  • Projective Identification
  • Transference and Countertransference

Term 3:

  • Psychic Pain and Psychic Defences
  • Trauma
  • Difference and Diversity
  • Psychoanalysis and Groups and Organisations

Who is this course for?

This course is for you if you wish to explore your interest in psychoanalytic psychotherapy or you may be thinking about taking your first step towards a formal qualification in this field.

To find out more, watch this short video interview with a recent student!

Want to see where this course can take you? Click the image below to see where this course fits in your learning and training journey.

Adult Mental Health Psychoanalysis Course Pathway


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Course requirements/assessment

In order to take this course, we ask that you have an interest in psychodynamic counselling, psychoanalytic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, and a wish to make a deeper study of the human mind – either for professional reasons or for the purposes of your own personal development. We’ll ask you to tell us why you are interested in studying with us in your online application form.


After you have submitted an application, we will ask you to provide us with the details of two referees, before inviting you to join us for a short interview with one of our Course Leads – this is an important part of the process, and a way of checking that this is the right course for you. You’ll be able to ask any questions you have about the course, discuss what you hope to take from it, and share your plans for your workplace observation. Our Course Lead, in turn, will ask you about your motivations for studying with us, and explore any relevant experience and interests which might inform your application.

Workplace observation requirements:

As part of the course, you will be asked to arrange a workplace observation in a relevant setting. This could be, for example, in a mental healthcare setting (e.g. a local mental health clinic or hospital), a charitable organisation (e.g. volunteering as a befriender) or an educational setting (e.g. a school or youth centre). Alternatively, if you currently work in mental health or allied health, teaching, social work, or in another supportive role, then this could be used for the purposes of your observation. If you’re unsure whether your current workplace role is suitable, or would like any further guidance on this aspect of the course, please download more information or contact us. We strongly recommend researching and organising your work placement as early in the application process as possible.

Assessment is based upon the following:

  • A minimum group seminar attendance rate of 75% throughout the year
  • Submission of eight write-ups (each of 1500 words) taken from observations from your work placement
  • An optional submission of a Placement Reflection Paper (3000 words), which, if undertaken, leads to achievement of a full Trust Certificate
  • Successful completion of the above assessment components, without undertaking the optional Placement Reflection Paper, will enable you to receive a Course Participation Certificate.



Course Timings

This course is delivered over one academic year, starting in the autumn term, but you’ll have access to the course and its materials for 18 months in total.

The course provides 200 hours of learning material, the majority of which you can undertake at a time and pace that suits you. In addition, during term time, there will be weekly group webinars with a clinical expert and termly one-on-one tutorial sessions, which will give you an opportunity to ask questions, reflect on your learning and discuss your experiences.

Term dates for this academic year are as follows:

  • Term 1: Monday 19 September 2022 – Friday 9 December 2022 (Half Term 24-28 October)
  • Term 2: Monday 9 January 2023 – Friday 24 March 2023 (Half Term 13-17 February)
  • Term 3: Monday 17 April 2023 – Friday 23 June 2023 (Half Term 29 May-2 June)

We currently plan to offer two timeslots for weekly seminars: both on Mondays with one from 9:30am – 10.30am and another from 7pm – 8pm (UK time). You will need to choose your preferred timeslot (which will remain the same throughout the year; it’s not possible to switch between timeslots) and discuss with the Course Lead at interview, should your application reach that stage. While we do strive to give people their preferred timeslot, we need to ensure that group seminars are viable so can’t always guarantee first choice.

If you have any questions about the seminar timetable, or any scheduling needs that you’d like to discuss, please let us know by emailing us directly, or sharing these with a Course Lead during your interview. Please note that this schedule may be subject to change up until the start of Term 1, although we will do all we can to minimise any disruption this could cause.

We anticipate that your termly one-on-one tutorials will take place during Weeks 5, 6 or 7 of each term, and available dates and times will be provided in Week 1, so that you can book a convenient slot through our online learning environment.


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Course facilitators

Dr Peter Slater

Dr Peter Slater

Dr Peter Slater is a Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, an Adult Psychotherapist and is the course lead for the hugely popular Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy courses at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Dr. Slater undertakes clinical work with the Harley Therapy Clinic in central London, and has worked for a number…

Caroline Black

Caroline Black is a British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) registered Psychodynamic Psychotherapist, having completed her training at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. Caroline’s background is in mental health nursing and over her career she has worked in psychiatric inpatient, assertive outreach, psychiatric liaison (A&E) and community settings as a specialist practitioner and as a psychotherapist.…

Sue Schraer

Sue Schraer is a British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) registered Psychodynamic Psychotherapist, having completed her training at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. She is also a registrant of the UKCP and trained at the Anna Freud Centre in Psychoanalytic Parent-Infant Psychotherapy and has worked in both adult (NHS and private) as well as perinatal mental…

CPD Certified

CPD certified

This course has been independently evaluated for Continuing Professional Development purposes by The CPD Certification Service. This means that the learning activity meets global CPD standards and benchmarks, and the learning value has been scrutinised to ensure integrity and quality.


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Use our secure 'MyTAP' booking system to start, edit and submit your application for the coming academic year.



I chose this course because I wanted to extend my sketchy knowledge of psychoanalytic theory and theories of the unconscious mind. And I wanted to be challenged to think deeply about these issues. I have a professional interest as I work as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. It has been fascinating for me to learn alongside people who bring insights from a wide range of very different occupations. Every two weeks, our small group seminar (on Zoom) gives all students an opportunity to present ideas to their peers based on a structured programme of reading. We clarify our understanding of the theory though discussion. Alternating with these seminars are weekly presentations of students’ observations of real life situations, enabling the group to consider how the theory might be observed in practice. We also get the chance to learn from the Tavistock’s many talented and experienced tutors and published authors through videos and presentations and we are encouraged to share and consolidate our learning using journals and group discussion boards. The digital medium seems well designed to offer material to suit different learning styles – through reading, video, observation, journaling and discussion. This course is offering me an intellectually rigorous and challenging opportunity to get to grips with these complex theories. We are challenged to use our whole minds – reason and emotion – to deepen our understanding. This is just what I was looking for.
Trust Certificate Student
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