Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80)

Course overview

This internationally renowned course is an NHS training that will allow you to qualify as a child and adolescent psychotherapist with eligibility for membership to the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) which is the registering body for the profession. It is validated by the University of Essex, leading to the award of professional doctorate in child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy. 

Please note: applications for September 2020 are now closed.

Over four years, you will undertake taught components and clinical work placements and attend the Tavistock Centre for training events and supervision each week.

The taught course component (one day per week) consists of the following elements:

  • specialist individual supervision for clinical work
  • small group supervision
  • clinical seminars: general and topic-based (assessment, work with parents, adolescence, endings)
  • specialist multidisciplinary workshops including: fostered and adopted children, refugees, autistic children, children with learning disability,  children who are violent, delinquent or act out sexually, eating disorders, neuroscience
  • experiential group relations week in year three
  • theoretical teaching
  • research seminars (methodology, critical appraisal) and workshops (research development, protocol writing and specialist topics)
  • academic support
  • individual tutorials
  • departmental and clinic events
  • assessed work.

Clinical work under supervision (three and a half days a week) as a member of a clinical team:

  • long-term psychoanalytic cases
  • time-limited psychoanalytically based cases across the age range
  • experience and training in assessments and brief-focused therapeutic work
  • extensive experience with parents and parental couples
  • experience in generic child mental health work, including family work
  • develop clinical specialism(s)

Research component

During the first two years of training you will be introduced to key research paradigms, to quantitative and qualitative health care research methodologies and to a range of research designs. You will formulate a research question and develop your dissertation proposal for registration for a Professional Doctorate, undertaking the data collection and writing up of your findings.  Research for the Professional Doctorate is supported at all stages, from protocol development and gaining ethical approval, to undertaking, analysing and writing up a research dissertation project.

You will be fully supported by a research supervisor, who will give their input on the appropriate methodological and clinical aspects of the study. 

This course will provide you with the opportunity to study at one of the world’s leading providers of child psychotherapy training.  It will help you gain highly specialised skills in clinical work and research with children, adolescents and their families - including those who have experienced trauma, abuse, social disadvantage or discrimination.  It will also allow you to study within a supportive peer group and environment, with a long-established tradition of excellence in training child psychotherapists and other disciplines.

This course will equip you with research knowledge, skills and competencies relevant to child psychotherapists working in the NHS, and enable you to contribute to the wider development of research in the clinical discipline and professional field.

What our students say:

‘The training was life changing in ways that I had never expected and could never have anticipated. It has been fascinating, holding an endless potential for learning, exploring and questioning, and has changed the way I think about the world and my experiences’.

‘I feel very grateful to my service supervisors and my personal tutor, all of whom have been so patient with me, generous with their time, quietly trusting in my capacity to learn. Behind them have been a whole army of case supervisors, small group supervisors and workshop leaders who have stretched my mind and helped me to develop my clinical practice’.

‘The training was extremely intense, on different levels. Working so intimately with unconscious processes is both very tough and enormously stimulating. People are so interesting. It is such an honour to get to know someone, their lives, their thoughts and feelings. It is a further honour to witness the changes this work can make in a child’s life’.

‘One of my patients recently told me that he feels he has grown during the therapy and that he feels the therapy will continue to grow with him once he ends his treatment. This made a lot of sense to me and is how I feel about my experience of the training: something solid that will remain with me throughout my career and future experiences’.

If you have a commitment to working with children and adolescents and have substantial experience working with three age ranges (pre-school, latency and adolescence). 

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you:

  • have completed our Working with children, young people & families: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7) course (to at least Postgraduate Diploma level or to Masters level if you do not already hold a UK honours degree*), or an equivalent that delivers comparable learning outcomes (a two-year Psychoanalytic Baby Observation, a one-year Young-Infant Psychoanalytic Observation, and two years of Work Discussion seminars and Psychoanalytic Theory lectures and seminars).
  • have been in personal psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy (with an accredited practitioner) three times per week for at least a year before training starts, and are prepared to continue four (or five) times weekly throughout the duration of the course.
  • are strong in personal suitability by which we mean that you are able to demonstrate:
 - both sensitivity and resilience to meet the emotional demands of the training
 - sustained interest in children and adolescents and the ability to engage them, and build relationships with them 
 - awareness of the impact you have on others and the impact of others on you
 - the ability to keep personal/professional boundaries 
 - the ability to ask for and use help
 - the ability to keep thinking under pressure 
 - excellent written and spoke communications skills.

          *It must be a honours. For overseas qualifications equivalence of academic level to a UK honours degree can be confirmed by NARIC, see their website.


          This course is full-time, between clinical work in placement and time for training. A full day on Wednesday is spent at the Tavistock Centre.


          Practice based learning is ongoing throughout the programme with defined progress points at the end of each year, and joint planning between you, your placement supervisor and your tutor for the next year’s requirements. This ensures that the required professional competencies can be met by the end of the programme so that you will be eligible for full membership of the ACP. There are also academic submissions each year, building progressively so that by the end of the course you will be ready to submit a substantial portfolio of clinical and research work, which will be assessed by viva

          Catrin Bradley headshotCatrin Bradley

          Catrin Bradley started her working life as a secondary school maths teacher before training in Child Psychotherapy, and then gathered a wealth of experience in inner city CAMHS, community and hospital settings before coming to the Tavistock in 2004. She has had the privilege of leading the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy training programme (integrated clinical training and professional doctorate) since 2008, working with a staff team of experienced clinical and research specialists who are all also practising clinicians. This role matches well with her passionate lifelong interest in how the kind of learning that leads to growth and development can be enabled. Clinically she now contributes to the work of the Tavistock Lifespan team and at a national level has recently served on the expert reference group developing competency standards for the child psychotherapy profession. 

          The vast majority of places for this course are funded through a national scheme.  If you are successful in your application, you will be directed to training placement opportunities, one of which you must secure before taking up your place.

          If you meet entry criteria for the course but are a non-UK resident or you have not secured a funded place, you may be considered on a self funding basis. 

          Please note that self funding places are very limited, and eligibility will be considered on a case by case basis.

          Please contact us if you have any questions. 

          Professional Doctorate
          Course length:
          4 years
          All day Wednesdays
          The Tavistock Centre, London, Leeds
          Theoretical approach:
          Admission status:
          Course lead:
          Catrin Bradley

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