Integrative Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy


The Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute (CPI) and the Institute for Clinical Social Work (ICSW) have joined forces to present this one-year certificate program in Integrative Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy. This specialized training, offered nowhere else in Chicago, is designed to enhance the skills of couple therapists using an integrative psychoanalytic perspective.


Novice and experienced therapists alike struggle with the many challenges of couple psychotherapy. Some couples can be helped by facilitating a dialogue between the partners, but many others struggle with affect regulation, narcissistic vulnerability, feelings of rage or hopelessness, sequelae of trauma and other issues. Psychoanalytic theory is uniquely suited to focus on the deeper roots of such difficulties. This program will help therapists learn to address these issues in dyadic relationships.


Three of Chicago's preeminent couple therapists are the core faculty for the program: Carla Leone PhD, program director, Arthur Nielsen MD and Karen Bloomberg PhD. They will be joined by guest lecturers and expert couple therapists who will provide case consultation for students.


Course of Study
The didactic portion of the program will be divided into four sections:

  • Basic tenets of psychoanalytic couple therapy:  Initial classes will focus on aspects of psychoanalytic theory and clinical work common to all psychoanalytic models. These include understanding couples’ dynamics in terms of each partner’s history, psychology and subjectivity, recognizing the influence of unconscious processes on relationships, understanding and managing transference and countertransference (or co-transference) in couple therapy, as well as creating safety, engaging the couple, making interpretations, and so on. The first class will be taught by all three core faculty and will focus on getting to know each other and creating a supportive community. Each core faculty member will then teach two of the next six introduction/overview classes so students can get to know each one’s basic approach.

  • Major models of psychoanalytic couple therapy: The next section will focus in more depth on five major models of psychoanalytic couple therapy:  object relations (including both American object relations and the Tavistock model), self psychology, intersubjective systems theory and relational theory.  The basic tenets of each model will be highlighted, including how couples’ difficulties are conceptualized and primary clinical interventions.  The models will also be compared and contrasted to each other.

  • Incorporating non-psychoanalytic models into a primarily psychoanalytic approach: This section will examine popular nonpsychoanalytic approaches to couple therapy and consider how aspects of some or all might be usefully incorporated into a fundamentally psychoanalytic model. These include systems, neuroscience-based, attachment-based/EmotionFocused Therapy, The Gottman Method, and Wile’s Collaborative Couple Therapy. Dr. Nielsen will present his particular model of Integrative Couple Therapy as outlined in his book, A  Roadmap for Couple Therapy.

  • Application to specific couples problems or populations:  The final section will apply the theories and ideas studied thus far to particular types of couples and those with specific problems. These include same-sex couples; multicultural, inter-cultural or inter-racial couples; older adult couples; and couples dealing with infidelity, sexual dysfunction, illness or disability in one or both partners; and step-family issues.

A partial syllabus with examples of typical readings to be assigned (usually two per class with others optional) is available upon request.  The full syllabus and reading list will be available upon acceptance and payment of initial deposit.

Program Mission
To create a stimulating, supportive learning community that helps Masters and Doctoral level clinicians improve their ability to apply psychoanalytic theory to understanding and working effectively with couples, thereby increasing the availability of excellent psychoanalytic couple therapy for couples of all income levels.

Learning Objectives
By the completion of this program, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the basic tenets of the major psychoanalytic approaches to couple therapy and compare and contrast them.

  2. Explain the differences between psychoanalytic couple therapy and several nonpsychoanalytic models.

  3. Describe how non-psychoanalytic approaches or interventions such as psychoeducation can be incorporated into a fundamentally psychoanalytic framework.

  4. Articulate their personal theoretical orientation to couple therapy (highlighting the psychoanalytic components if integrative).

  5. Conceptualize couples from a psychoanalytic perspective, including each partner individually as well as their dynamics as a couple.

  6. Demonstrate the ability to apply the theories learned to treating couples in their own practices.


Requirements for Program Completion: 
To be awarded a Certificate of Completion, participants must demonstrate their mastery of the above objectives through their class participation, written and oral case presentations, and completion of a final paper describing their personal theoretical approach to couples work and applying it to a detailed case example.

Continuing Education:
The program consists of 27 two and a half hour classes for a total of 67.5 CE credits if all sessions are attended. CEs are not available for the individual consultation hours.

Admission Process:
Eligibility: The program is intended for licensed Masters and Doctoral level clinicians who have already developed solid skills in conducting individual psychotherapy and wish to develop or expand their skills in couple therapy. Successful applicants will have either some previous training in psychoanalytic theory or significant experience and training in couple therapy, or both, and must be highly likely to be treating at least two couples throughout the academic year of the program. For applicants who meet all other admissions criteria except for having two couples in ongoing treatment, we will attempt to help secure (probably low fee) referrals.

Application process:
Please complete the application here. A
ttach your CV, copy of your license and the names of two references who will attest to your appropriateness for the program requirements listed above. Submit these with your application fee. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and you will be contacted within one month to schedule an in-person interview with one of the core faculty members.

$100.00 fee (applicable toward tuition). 
Applicants must be licensed clinicians with experience as therapists and have at least two couples in treatment during the program. Continuing education credits will be awarded and upon completion participants will receive a certificate.

Tuition is $3,600 for the academic year, billed in two payments of $1,800. There is an additional fee of $75 per individual consultation, payable directly to the consultant. A minimum of 10 individual consultations are required, resulting in a total cost for the program of $4,300. Tuition will be billed for the fall and spring semesters in August and December. 

September through May, classes will meet Thursday mornings for 27 weeks over the course of the 2020-21 academic year. Program components include: didactic lectures by core and guest faculty including discussions of readings, film clips and clinical vignettes; case conferences with presentations by participants; individual case consultation with outside consultants; and a capstone paper. 


Dr. Carla Leone, PhD who will direct the program, is a faculty member at CPI and ICSW, Secretary of the International Association of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, and the author of numerous published papers on couple therapy and related topics. 


Dr. Arthur Nielsen, MD is a CPI faculty member, a board-certified psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and the author of A Roadmap for Couple Therapy: Integrating Systemic, Psychodynamic and Behavioral Approaches as well as many other relevant publications. 


Dr. Karen Bloomberg, PhD is on the faculty of CPI and ICSW and serves as Dean of Students at ICSW. She has taught courses in Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy and presented widely on couples’ issues.


Please direct admissions questions to our Education Coordinator,, 312-897-1403
Program content questions can be directed to the Program Director

Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, and national or ethnic origin