Introductory Course in Psychoanalysis

In this two semester, introductory program, students will be introduced to concepts that lie at the heart of psychoanalysis. The course is both theoretical and practical, with an emphasis on the famous case studies that Freud used to introduce his discovery of the unconscious. It also explores the conceptual fame works that different schools of psychoanalysis have used to construct models of intervention. Psychoanalysis is both a body of theory and a clinical praxis. It also has a powerful research function. All these will be touched upon in the course over the duration of the year. In one and a half hour, weekly seminars, the teaching will cover the basic ideas of psychoanalytic practice, and the way they are implemented in the clinic. As the source from which all psychotherapies derive, psychoanalysis aims most potently to produce truthful knowledge, and this will be a theme of the course, which is suitable for both those who intend to practice clinically, and others with a more general interest. Over the many years the course has been running, this seminar format has proved an accessible way to introduce psychoanalysis.

The course consists of 24 seminars over two semesters:

Day: Thursdays

Time: 7.30pm-9.00pm

Semester 1: February 18-May 27 2021

Semester 2: August 5-October 7 2021

Venue: Treacy Conference Centre, Parkville

Contact: Dr Peter Ellingsen (Convenor)

T: 0408 125 076


Program of Theoretical and Clinical Studies in Psychoanalysis

The Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis offers a program of theoretical and clinical studies aimed at engaging participants in a systematic study of the founding concepts of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis. The program covers eight foundational subjects taught over eight semesters, each 14 weeks long. Sessions are held on Saturday morning for three and half hours, delivered from the Treacy Centre in Parkville. Taken together the program provides a solid theoretical foundation for anyone interested in studying psychoanalysis and those wishing to become Analyst Candidates (Analysts-in-Training), and Registered Practicing Analysts with the ACP; for further details of this process please refer to Centre’s information about training

Foundational Areas of Study

1. Crucial problems in the psychoanalytic experience and contemporary clinical practice. Across the year the following problems will be addressed through the study of psychoanalytic cases.

  • Preliminary interviews.
  • Diagnosis in psychoanalysis.
  • The fundamental rule: rationale and practice. The analytic discourse and the other discourses.
  • Development and handling of the transference: theory and practice.
  • Interpretation, construction and psychoanalytic act.
  • Ethical questions arising from the clinical experience: position and desire of the analyst and of the analysand.
  • The symptom and the fantasy: handling, interpretation and construction.
  • Technical questions in the treatment of children and adolescents.
  • Treatment of the psychoses: stabilization, creation, invention, sinthome.
  • The end of the analysis.
  • The unforeseen, the unclassifiable and the impossible in the psychoanalytic experience. Indications and contraindications in psychoanalysis.

2. Theory of the Unconscious
Participants are introduced to the foundational concepts of Freud’s work, their elaboration by Jacques Lacan and their application in clinical practice. This involves a comprehensive study of the formations of the unconscious and the epistemological, philosophical and clinical questions they give rise to. 

3. Theory of the drive and sexuality
The theory of infantile sexuality put forward by Freud is fundamental because it distinguishes sexuality within the field of psychoanalysis from that of instinct and reproduction. This subject includes a close study of the structure of the drive, Lacan’s unique theory of the object, and the complex topic of sexual identity. 

4. Theory of discourse and repetition
This area of study involves a close examination of Freud theory of transference which is fundamental to the appearance of repetition compulsion in psychoanalytic practice. We consider Freud’s theory of repetition and Lacan’s extension which situates it as the effect of language on the speaking being. Lacan gives the name “Discourse” to the particular social bonds that are possible as the result of this effect, arguing the “Analyst’s Discourse” marks a new form of social bond possible for the speaking-being.

5. Psychopathology: neuroses, psychosis and perversion
The subject begins with a study of the general theory of psychopathology and clinical structures developed by Freud and extended by Lacan. Each clinical structure of neuroses, psychosis, perversion and their subsets are studied in depth and current nosological categories are critically examined. 

6. Ethics and Praxis
The fundamental ethical questions posed by the clinical practice of psychoanalysis. This includes an exploration of the Lacanian concept of the analyst’s desire, and investigation of the contributions made by Freud and Lacan to the field of ethics. 

7. Psychoanalysis with Children and Adolescents
This subject is devoted to the study of the theory and clinical practice of psychoanalysis with children and adolescents. It includes consideration of the typical problems encountered in the work and the many epistemological, ethical and technical questions that arise. The program includes an examination of the contribution made by pioneers in the field: Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott, Maud Mannoni, Rosine and Robert Lefort and others.  

8. Special Clinical Problems

In the final semester of the program we allocate time to investigate clinical and conceptual questions that arise in the treatment of special conditions such as addictions, severe depression, psychosomatic phenomena, borderline conditions, atypical psychosis, transgender/sexual identity issues and other problems that arise in contemporary clinical practice.

Participation in any of the subjects is open to any member or interested person but enrolment must be organised via the course co-ordinator and fees apply. Not all subjects are taught every year.

Day: Saturdays 

Time: 8:45am – 12:30pm

Semester 1: Commences February 27th – June 19th 2021(14 weeks)

Semester 2: Commences July 31st 1st – November 20th 2021 (14 weeks)

Student Study Day: November 27 2021

Venue: Treacy Conference Centre, Parkville

Contact: Dr Helena Sandahl (Convenor)


Latest Events


The Function and use of Time in Psychoanalysis

Bernard Nominé

SATURDAY 13 & SUNDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2021, 6pm-9pm 

Event hosted via Zoom, times in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

Program available HERE

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