Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy One-day Course

One-day live online course designed to provide a basic introduction to couple therapy from an object relations perspective.

The Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy Program is offering a one-day live online course designed to provide a basic introduction to couple therapy from an object relations perspective.

September 23, 2023 – REGISTER

This course is appropriate for all levels of therapists interested in exploring and expanding their practice to include couple work or deepening their existing work with couples.  It is a recommended but not required prerequisite to the Foundations of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy distance learning series which builds upon these fundamentals which are not explicitly taught in the video seminar.

*This is a required course for students enrolling in the Psychoanalytic Couple Psychotherapy Certificate Program.


The course will be held online as a two-way secure, HIPAA-compliant live videoconference using the Zoom videoconference platform, requiring only a computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone with a camera/microphone and internet access.

Program Chair

Carla Trusty-Smith, PhD

Program Date(s):

September 23, 2023

Course Schedule

The course will meet online as a live two-way videoconference from 9:00 a.m. – 5:10 p.m. US Eastern Time Zone with a one-hour lunch break from 1:15 – 2:15 p.m. ET, providing 6 hours of CE Credit.  Participants will receive an advance reading list and copies of the course readings.


9:00 – 10:15 a.m.

What makes Couple therapy different from individual therapy?

Carla Trusty-Smith, PhD

    • The back of the therapist’s mind
    • Couple state of mind
    • Creative couple
    • The third position
    • Desired outcomes

10:30-11:45 a.m.

Conducting an Assessment and Setting Up Treatment

Janine Wanlass, PhD

    • Setting a frame
    • Establishing an alliance
    • Conducting an initial assessment
    • Formulating hypotheses and making treatment recommendations

12:00-1:15 p.m.

Role of the therapist in transference/countertransference dynamics

Jim Poulton PhD

    • Use of the therapist’s self
    • Negative capability
    • Transference and countertransference
      • Contextual, Focused, Individual, Joint
    • Working between individual and joint transferences
    • Interpretation of defense and anxiety: The because clause
    • Working through

2:15-3:30 p.m.

Couple Dynamics and Projective Identification

Jill Scharff, MD

    • Couple dynamics from an object relations perspective
    • Klein — projective identification
    • Fairbairn — individual development
    • Dicks — Marital tensions

3:45-5:00 p.m.

Common Challenges: Sexuality and Sexual Issues in Couple Therapy

David Scharff. M.D.

    • Sexual Development
    • Assessing Sexual Difficulty
    • Dealing with Affairs



Carla Trusty-Smith, PhD


Program Faculty

James Poulton, Ph.D.

David Scharff, M.D.

Jill Scharff, M.D.

Carla Trusty-Smith, Ph.D.

Janine Wanlass, Ph.D.

Educational Objectives

Participants will be able to:


Session 1

  • Define the concept of “couple state of mind”.
  • Identify two aspects that differentiate couple therapy from individual therapy.
  • Name three outcomes of successful couple therapy according to J. Scharff.

Session 2

  • Describe 3 tasks of an assessment in couple therapy from a psychodynamic perspective.
  • Discuss 2 ways to facilitate the establishment of a therapeutic alliance in couple treatment.

Session 3

  • Describe two kinds of joint transferences couples can present in couple therapy.
  • List three reasons a therapist may shift between offering interpretations of individual vs. joint transferences in couple sessions.

Session 4

  • List three phases of projective identification according to Ogden.
  • Identify one defensive and one restorative function of projective identification in marriage.

Session 5

  • Enumerate five stages of sexual development that can create adult sexual vulnerability.
  • List three differential causes of affairs and develop effective treatment techniques appropriate to each one


Continuing Education Credit Hours

The one-day course provides 6 hours CE Credit




Tuition and Fees

General Registration fee: $180

Discounted fee for IPI Association Members and Full Members: $153

Limited scholarship funds are available for this training:

Membership Benefits

Become a member of IPI at the “Associate Member PLUS”, or “Full Member PLUS” level and you will receive an IPI Zoom Pro account as one of your member benefits. Associate and Full Members also receive discounted registration fees for most of IPI’s events, a subscription to PEP Web, the online psychoanalytic library, and other benefits depending on membership level.

HIPAA compliant Zoom video accounts are provided for all IPI Associate Member Plus and Full Member Plus memberships. IPI has a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement with Zoom, which provides a HIPAA compliant platform for our accounts. HIPPA compliance is strongly recommended for all internet-mediated clinical work and clinical teaching. The “PLUS” add-on to the IPI membership gives the user the ability to host online meetings with multiple people at the same time. [Current members can upgrade to the “Plus” account and only pay the difference in price from your current membership level.]

Click for IPI Membership and Zoom Account information

Continuing Education Information

The International Psychotherapy Institute, IPI, is approved by The American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. IPI maintains responsibility for the program and its content. The International Psychotherapy Institute has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6017. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The International Psychotherapy Institute is responsible for all aspects of the programs. The International Psychotherapy Institute is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education learning activities and maintains full responsibility for this program. This training qualifies for Category I continuing education units. The International Psychotherapy Institute is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0299.
Participants are responsible for verifying that IPI CE credit is accepted by the licensing boards in their own states.