Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy

This program is geared for licensed IPI’s Two-year Object Relations Theory and Practice program graduates (or the equivalent) who desire advanced training in couple and family treatment.

Program Overview

APPLY – due August 1st for Fall start and December 1st for January start

The seminar meets online using a secure Zoom videoconference platform on two Wednesdays per month from 9:45-11:45 a.m. US Eastern Time.

Psychoanalytic couple therapy is a challenging endeavor, a rewarding area of clinical practice and theoretically applicable to all clinicians.

Program students will gain confidence and competency in:

  •  Assessment and consultation with couples and families
  • Establishing and maintaining a couple perspective in treatment
  • Understanding and utilizing the therapist’s countertransference responses
  • Working with multiple transference dynamics including between partners, each partner with therapist, and couple to therapist
  • Addressing common challenges in couple/family work such as:
    • polarizing identifications
    • aggression
    • differing degrees of motivation for treatment
    • trauma
    • sexuality
    • infidelity

Although this program is aimed at training those psychotherapists who treat couples and families, child psychotherapists may also find it helpful to address parenting issues and examine the effect of the couple relationship on the child. Adult therapists may find it useful, as well, to consider the therapist-patient dyad and to explore the couple dynamics within the adult patient’s life.

Entire program can be completed via distance learning

Beginning Dates

Program can be started at the beginning of either the Fall or Spring semesters. Apply by August 1 to be considered for the Fall start or by December 1 for the Spring start.  A unique aspect of this program structure is that a participant can begin by simply attending the seminar and then decide at any time to pursue the certificate training track, thereby accumulating credit toward the certificate all along. That is, once approved for admission into the program, all previously attended semesters will apply retroactively towards earning a certificate. Although the program can be completed in as little as three years, students have the flexibility to fit this program to their own personal schedule. Program process and content are consistent with IPI policies regarding inclusivity and sensitivity to issues of cultural, racial, LGBTQ, ethnic and religious equality.


Program Chair

Carla Trusty-Smith, PhD

Program Components

Students enrolled in the Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy Certificate Program need to complete all of these requirements to receive a certificate.

  • attend Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Couple Therapyonline 1-day introductory course (usually offered in the autumn of each year)
  • complete 6 semesters of the Foundations In Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy distance learning seminar by zoom (not necessarily consecutively)
  • join us for 4 IPI weekend conferences (some are designated as couple/child weekends, but choose what interests you)
  • demonstrate competency in three couple cases with IPI faculty consultation (35 hours each)
  • present a couple case to peers at an IPI event
  • meet with an advisor bi-annually
  • complete 2 years of weekly psychoanalytically-based psychotherapy or analysis. (can be completed prior to coursework)

*Affective small groups will take place during the IPI Weekend Conferences.

Is this program right for you?

Do you have an interest in working psychodynamically with couples and families?  This program is designed to enhance skill, competence, and confidence in couple work. The introductory course orients the student to fundamental concepts undergirding a psychodynamic approach with couples. The seminar offers theoretical and clinical topics presented in a discussion format with clinicians from around the world sharing thoughts, associations and insights live via Zoom.  Four weekend conferences feature the group affective learning model (GAM) allowing students to deepen their understanding of psychodynamic concepts on a personal and affective level. Three intensive consultation experiences with IPI faculty offer students individualized and targeted clinical training and ongoing development of professional identity. This is a wonderful adjunct to any other IPI program, with the unique application of object relations principles and concepts working with couples and families. Program students may attend the IPI Master Speaker Series free of charge during the three years they are program students and receive a free subscription to the Couple and Family Psychoanalysis Journal as well as PepWeb access.


Prospective students must

  • have completed the IPI Object Relations Theory and Practice Program (or its equivalent*),
  • be licensed practitioners (licensed to practice independently in the region where the couple resides)
  • have an interest in advanced couple therapy training.

*The decision about equivalency is made on a case-by-case basis by the program committee.  However, if you consider that you have an equivalent background and wish to seek advance feedback, you may contact Carla Trusty-Smith, Program Chair, to ask her to informally review your program eligibility in view of your prior training.

Program Faculty

Norma Caruso PhD
IPI Program Faculty

Nestor Kapusta MD
Adjunct Faculty

Hanni Mann-Shalvi PhD
Adjunct Faculty

Damian McCann D.Sys
Psych Adjunct Faculty

Elizabeth Palacios MD
Adjunct Faculty

Jim Poulton PhD
IPI Program Faculty

David Scharff MD
IPI Program Faculty

Jill Scharff MD
IPI Program Faculty

Amita Sehgal PhD
Adjunct Faculty

Caroline Sehon MD
IPI Program Faculty

Anastasia Tsamparli PhD
Adjunct Faculty

Carla Trusty-Smith PhD
IPI Program Faculty

Janine Wanlass PhD
IPI Program Faculty

Rich Zeitner PhD
Adjunct Faculty

Continuing Education Credit Hours

CE Credits are awarded on an hour-per-hour basis for participation in the Foundations of Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy Video course, the 1-day introductory course, and IPI weekend conferences.

  • Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy online 1-day introductory course provides 6 CE Credits
  • Foundations of Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy distance learning series provides 14-16 CE credits per semester.
  • IPI Weekend Conferences provide approximately 14 CE credits each.

Attendance Policy

The IPI is an APA-approved provider (sponsor) of continuing education (CE) credit that specifies standards by which CE credits can be awarded for learning activities. The APA only awards CE credit for actual instructional time, and variable credit for partial attendance may not be awarded. IPI expects 100% attendance for a student to receive CE credit. A student enrolled in the program would not receive credit for a module or semester (a unit of instruction) unless the student were to attend all of the classes within that particular module or semester. Attendance records are maintained by the faculty at each class. In the very rare instance when a student would have to miss a class, that student would be expected to complete a make-up assignment with specified learning objectives, as part of IPI’s adherence to APA standards for awarding credit.


To apply for enrollment in the Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy Program complete the online registration form.

Fall Semester start – Application is due by August 1st.

Spring Semester start – Application is due by December 1st.

Not ready to commit to the certificate program?

Register for the Foundations of Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy distance learning series here.

Register for the Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy online 1-day introductory course here.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition is a sum of all coursework components.*

Total tuition: $3,877 collected over 3 years

Annual tuition $1292.33

Program students also receive the following as part of their tuition:

  • IPI Associate Membership
  • Free attendance for Master Speaker Series
  • PepWeb access
  • Free Couple and Family Psychoanalysis journal subscription


Consultancy fees (separate from your tuition and paid directly to consultant)

  • 105 hours of couple case consultation
  • hourly fees are negotiated with the consultant (not to exceed $200/hr)

*To make enrollment more flexible, this program can be completed by individually registering for each course component. Students who choose this option will not receive the extra benefits (associate membership, pepweb, free master speakers series, etc.)

Total tuition when paid by component = $4,328

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

Should you have any questions about the program or the application process, please feel free to contact:

Carla Trusty-Smith -

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.