Certificate in Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy

Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy

Certificate Program

Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy is a rewarding area of clinical practice, but it can be challenging.  This training is geared for licensed professionals (or the equivalent) who desire advanced training in the psychoanalytic approach to couple treatment.  The didactic content of this course series covers assessment and consultation with couples, establishing and maintaining a couple perspective in treatment, understanding and utilizing the therapist’s counter-transference responses, and dealing with common challenges in couple work such as polarizing identifications, projection and projective identification,  aggression in couples, differing degrees of motivation for treatment, and couples with trauma histories.  All courses are analyst led.  The courses and case discussions give participants the opportunity to present and discuss cases and think collaboratively with other student clinicians.  This one year course series is primarily targeted for those psychotherapists seeing couples in treatment and wanting to develop a psychoanalytic approach to their work with couples

Program Director:  Deborah Farnsworth, Psy.D.  MFT,  FIPA

Dr. Farnsworth received her certification in psychoanalysis from Newport Psychoanalytic Institute in February of 2009.  During her studies at NPI, she became especially interested in the Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy, Relational/Intersubjective Schools of Psychoanalysis, enactments in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, and psychoanalytic dream theory. An active member of NPI since 2004, she has served as Dean of Students, Chair of Curriculum Development, Chair of Faculty and as currently a member of the Training Committee. Dr. Farnsworth maintains a private practice in Newport Beach, CA where she has worked since 1992, specializing in men’s issues, trauma, and psychoanalytic couple’s therapy.  She is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association and a fellow of the International Psychoanalytic Institute.

Trimester 1

Introduction to Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy

Faculty:  Deborah L. Farnsworth Psy.D. MFT
                   Roberta Knox Psy.D. MFT

This course includes an introduction to the theoretical underpinnings of Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy, assessment in the first meeting and throughout the treatment, understanding the dynamics of love and hate, developing and holding a couple state of mind, creating containment, unconscious beliefs and tensions, transference/countertransference, projective identification and projective gridlock, technique and enactments.  In particular, through discussion of seminal readings from the Tavistock Institute for Martial Studies, an understanding of the internal world and experience of the couple and how as clinicians we might facilitate growth and intimacy in our work with them.

Clinical Issues I: Introduction to the Psychoanalytic Setting

Faculty:  Rotating

This class introduces the student to the fundamentals of the psychoanalytic setting.  Particular attention is given to the basic language of psychoanalysis,  the analytic frame, and the differentiation between psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Technical practices such as creating holding environment, the treatment alliance,  as well as psychoanalytic listening and interpreting are introduced.

 Trimester 2

Special Topics  in Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy

Faculty: Deborah L. Farnsworth Psy.D. MFT 
                 Cheryle Graybill-Dale Psy.D. MFT

This course of study involves theoretical aspects of psychodynamic work with couples facing unique interpersonal conflicts and the challenges these conflicts may bring to our clinical work. Some of these challenges include anger and aggression, changing marital roles, aging, loss and mourning, child rearing and childlessness.  The format of the course will involve s didactic presentation with group discussion of articles in order to best apply them to our work with couples. Discourse will be highlighted by confidential sharing and discussion of clinical case material presented by both the
instructor and students.

Clinical Issue II: Transference/countertransference

Faculty:  Rotating

This course offers candidates an introduction to the heart of all psychoanalytic practice. Specifically, the unconscious, unconscious communication, transference, and countertransference are examined in relation to the clinical practice and technique of psychoanalysis.

Trimester 3

Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy Case Discussion

Faculty: David Wayne Ph.D., Psy.D, MFT
                  Martha Carr Psy.D. MFT

The clinical case discussion of our current cases is at the heart of learning to work effectively with couples in the clinical setting. In weekly small-group meetings, students will integrate theory and practice, considering what it means to think critically and function effectively as psychoanalytic couples psychotherapists. Unlike the supervision process the case discussion
provides a forum for students to reflect on their internal experience as well as that of the couple, as they function in clinical roles. In our small group we will explore together how our own clinical experiences relate to the body of knowledge they have been studying including concepts of transference/countertransference, working with defenses, containment and interpretation. There will be short readings assigned each week however, these readings are meant to spark creativity and thinking about our clinical work. The focus will be  on clinical case material presented by the students.

Clinical Issues III: the Psychoanalytic Frame and Boundary Dilemmas

Faculty:  Rotating

This course focuses on the psychoanalytic frame and boundary dilemmas in psychoanalytic practice. Issues such as confidentiality, dual relationships, the function of memory systems, the building of state systems and the development of voice and language are each explored. The perspectives of major traditional theorists, Freud, Klein, Winnicott and Bowlby are included, as are other contemporary writers and a link is forged between theory and practice with special emphasis on the impact of various relational failures on psychoanalytic work as well as the frame in analysis, physical contact, and exploitation.


This one year certificate program is designed to build a foundation of clinical thinking and working from a  psychoanalytic perspective with couples. Our training begins in mid-September and concludes at the end of May. Held in ten week trimesters structured around vacations and holidays, two classes a day will meet on Friday’s from 10:00am to 1:10pm on our Tustin campus or remotely using Zoom technology.


 Psychologists, MFTs and LCSWs:  The Newport Psychoanalytic Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Newport Psychoanalytic Institute maintains responsibility for this course series and its content. Full attendance is required for psychologists to received credit; partial credit may not be awarded based on APA guidelines.   This course series does not have any commercial support interest for sponsors, instructors, content of instruction, or any other relationship that could reasonably be construed as a conflict of interest. Instructors are paid from the funds collected from admission.

This certificate program also  provides 45 CEU’s