Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is usually a long-term, intensive business, and we see personal therapy as fundamental to people’s learning. Most students therefore go for therapy as often as they can manage, on the grounds that this is likely to be helpful to them personally and essential in their work with clients. Students are expected to be in therapy for a year before joining and throughout their time as students, and to interpret this requirement in an individual and responsible way. The therapist should be broadly psychoanalytic in orientation and in sympathy with the ethos and aims of the Outfit.
Acquiring a variety and depth of clinical experience is seen as extremely important. Students usually need to be prepared to see people for a much reduced fee in order to get experience of the long-term intensive work that is so often a mutative part of an education in psychotherapy. Students also need to gain experience of working in a mental health setting, as part of their learning. We have suggestions for where to find such experience, especially for those whose working lives have not included it. The Outfit has a referral scheme; this is one of the ways in which students may find suitable clients.
Supervision comes in many forms – individual, group, peer – and some variety is usually helpful. The Outfit asks that all student members are in a minimum of once-weekly individual supervision and that at least one supervisor is chosen from among the Outfit’s ordinary members. Discussion of clinical work (with due regard for confidentiality) is also be an important part of student group meetings.
Written work and course attendance
We encourage a diversity of both private and public writing. For those who enjoy it, writing can be an excellent form of self-expression, exploration of ideas, and communication with others. Some students who have found writing difficult or anxiety provoking in the past have used their time in the Outfit to experiment with different forms of writing, for themselves or to share.There are opportunities to present written work at student group meetings, and the Newsletter and Journal welcome contributions. In addition, many people write something for circulation at the time of their graduation.
The emphasis on self-responsibility is the only attendance requirement. Students who do not make the necessary commitment may find the process of graduation extremely difficult.
Assessments, standards and ethical requirements
We believe that the best guarantee of ethical practice comes from the integrity and responsibility of each individual psychotherapist. Education, experience and a personal sense of responsibility combine to inform a therapist on how to be with a client, and how to work in a therapeutic way. Our ethical beliefs are based on respect for the autonomy of the client and for the integrity and confidentiality of the therapeutic relationship. We aim to ensure that all members shall always act in the best interests of their clients, avoid any exploitation of clients and avoid conscious or unconscious attempts to indoctrinate them ideologically. These principles are reflected in a written Code of Ethics and Practice.
We place great weight on the quality of the academic, emotional and clinical work of our students. We rely on the responsibility, maturity and integrity of all our members, both ordinary and student, in maintaining this through continuous reflection, discussion, criticism and challenge.
We approach the process of graduation, with the associated issues of assessment and standards, very seriously. Throughout their time as students, people need to be prepared to be confronted with other’s views and opinions of their work and to meet these challenges creatively and constructively. The sharply focused, very active period of graduation usually continues for a period of at least nine months. Its exact form is defined individually by each student in negotiation with others. It is a period of time when students reflect on their strengths, the challenges they have encountered, and the experiences that have shaped them during their time in the student group. It is a period when other members expect them to discuss their work openly and frankly and they will meet close examination of what they have done. It is also a period for thinking about their future as a psychotherapist, both within the Society and in the wider world. These tasks are usually accomplished through a variety of discussions with others, both ordinary and student members, and many students form a small graduation group to guide then through this phase. A student’s graduation will usually involve some written communication and an external consultant is also involved.
Students are encouraged to keep all members of the Society informed about their graduation plans, as they become more focused. We produce some minimal guidelines on graduation which we keep under continual review to help students through this critical phase. We believe it to be very important for each student to assess critically for themselves, in the company of fellow students and ordinary members, the work they have done, their own personal maturity and development, and their readiness to make a transition. This process requires an ability for self-examination, for meeting challenge, and for negotiation over potentially difficult and sensitive issues. The graduation process culminates in the student being welcomed as an ordinary member at a Business Meeting of the whole Society.