Name of Innovative Program:
The Psychoanalytic Fellowship Program
The Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia (PCOP)
Name of Innovative Program Lead:
Bruce J. Levin, M.D.
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
The Psychoanalytic Fellowship at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia (PCOP) is a unique educational program which consists of mentorships in applied psychoanalysis. The fellows include clinicians, academicians, or other professionals, who have an opportunity to apply psychoanalytic thinking to their respective fields. The program was created in 1995, in order to improve patient care by enriching and deepening the clinical experience for psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or trainees in behavioral health fields. It was also organized to help facilitate academicians and non-clinicians to “open a new personal window” in how they view and approach their professional work. Each fellow is thoughtfully and carefully matched with psychoanalyst mentors based on their needs and interests. The pair meets monthly to apply psychoanalytic views to the fellows’ areas of interest. In addition, the fellows are invited to attend scientific sessions, audit courses, and participate in other academic offerings (see supporting file - documents 1).
Creativity and Innovation:
At a time when few in behavioral health knew what a psychoanalytic fellowship was all about, we advocated for these programs at both local and national levels. When many saw the psychoanalytic institute’s goal as exclusively for the training of psychoanalysts, and saw fellowship training as a potential distraction, we had the creative vision to see the catalytic value in our ability to reach out to scholars, clergy, educators, and clinicians to acquaint them with psychoanalysis and help them grow in their respective fields. We also saw a chance to expand the program by meeting an untapped need for psychoanalytic teaching in behavioral health training programs. For example, we have a formal arrangement with the Post-Doctoral Psychology Program at Pennsylvania Hospital. This affiliation is now a major aspect of their recruitment. All of this was accomplished on a minimum budget using determination and administrative creativity (see supporting file - document 2).
Over the years the Philadelphia fellowship program has gone from obscurity to its current role as a lynchpin and primary introduction to psychoanalytic knowledge and its broad application in individual and community lives. At a national level, our organization is regarded as a pioneer and early advocate for local fellowship training. The Philadelphia program has been recognized as a ‘best practice’ model for other cities to follow. The Psychoanalytic Fellowship program has been innovative since its inception by courageously reaching beyond the tradition of psychiatry to include psychologists, social workers, academicians, and non-clinical professionals, which was not a politically popular idea at that time. As a result, the program has been able to raise the level of care provided by those clinicians involved and to assist academicians and non-clinicians to bring greater sensitivity of mental health issues to their work (see supporting files - document 3).
We saw the chance to sustain and expand the fellowship by meeting a growing need. In graduate and medical school programs the teaching of psychoanalytic ideas applied to clinical work was in decline. Our Fellowship filled the vacuum. We reached out and developed relationships with leaders in social work, psychology, psychiatry and academia to have them recommend applicants to the Fellowship. Our faculty has also benefited from the chance to teach and supervise in the Fellowship directly. Other educational programs at PCOP are enriched by Fellowship graduates. As a result of this cross fertilization, PCOP members, faculty, students, and former fellows refer potential applicants. These efforts sustain continued interest in the Fellowship in Philadelphia and a steady flow of high quality applicants. All of this has been accomplished and sustained with the generous volunteer support of our psychoanalytic faculty.
In 1999, we created an annual local fellowship workshop at the winter meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Participants from other cities learned of the advantages of local psychoanalytic fellowships. They also learned how to develop new programs, enhance existing ones, and gain knowledge by sharing their experiences. This work has influenced other cities to develop their own programs often modeled on Philadelphia’s program. Currently, there are over 20 cities in the nation that have developed local psychoanalytic fellowships. One of the attendees of these workshops, Hal Steiger, M.D. from Minneapolis, used what he learned in the workshop to promote local fellowships internationally through the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA). A letter in the Journal of the International Psychoanalytic Association also educated and encouraged psychoanalysts in other nations to develop local fellowship programs. (see supporting file - document 4).
Over the last 17 years, Philadelphia’s local fellowship program has educated over 180 local fellows. Nationally, there are hundreds of current and former local fellows in various cities. In Philadelphia, some fellows in clinical fields continue in our Psychoanalytic Center and become students in psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. Those clinicians who do not continue in other more advanced training programs have a better understanding in their work with patients. Academicians involved with the fellowship, whose work has been enriched by their psychoanalytic learning, have included professors of English, German, Mathematics, Political Science, Bioethics, Bioengineering, Biology, Business, and Spanish. Accomplished professionals involved in the fellowship have included a rabbi, a minister, an art dealer, a physical therapist, a journalist, poets, writers, an architect, physicians and attorneys. Our fellowship program has helped clinicians and professionals of all stripes gain insight and assist the healing and helping of others. (see supporting file - document 5)