Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80)

Course overview

This internationally renowned course is a four-year NHS clinical training in child and adolescent psychotherapy. Upon completion, you will qualify as a child and adolescent psychotherapist with eligibility for membership of the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) which is the registering body for the profession. The course is validated by the University of Essex, leading to the award of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (DPsych).

Please see our FAQ's surrounding our Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80) course.

Over four years, you will undertake taught components, clinical work placements and a research project, attending the Tavistock Centre for training events on Wednesdays each week.  Please note that due to Covid restrictions teaching is currently taking place online via Zoom.

The course consists of the following elements:

  • Individual supervision for clinical work
  • Small group clinical supervision
  • Clinical seminars: (assessments, beginnings, work with parents, endings, models of short term psychotherapy and brief consultation)
  • Choice of specialist multidisciplinary workshops for example: adolescence, fostered and adopted children; early years and perinatal; trauma and early development; children who are violent, delinquent or act out sexually, eating disorders)
  • Experiential group relations week in year three
  • Theoretical lectures and reading seminars
  • Research teaching: methods and skills,
  • Support for research project development (proposal, ethics etc)
  • Research workshops
  • Research supervision
  • Academic support
  • Assessed academic work
  • Individual tutorials
  • Departmental and clinic events.

You will also undertake clinical work, under supervision, as a member of a clinical team and will: 

  • Work with long-term psychoanalytic cases
  • Work with short term psychoanalytically based therapy offered across the age range
  • Gain experience and training in assessments and brief-focused therapeutic work
  • Gain experience with parents and parental couples of referred children
  • Gain experience in generic child mental health work, including family work
  • Develop clinical specialism(s).

Research Project

In the first year research methods and skills seminars 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 then be supported to formulate a research question, usually linked to your clinical experience or your workplace and to develop your dissertation proposal for registration for a Professional Doctorate, to undertake the data collection and writing up of your findings.  

You will be fully supported by a research supervisor,  and will also attend research workshops with your peers.  The annual cross-programme research week offers access to the wider research culture at the Tavistock and Portman.  

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 and diverse 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:

We seek to recruit a diverse group of people who have a lively interest in and aptitude for working in mental health services for children and young people (ages from 0-25) and their families. 

The course entry requirements for 2022/23 have recently been updated - please see them below.

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

  1. Have completed* our Working with children, young people & families: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7) course or equivalent**
  2. Have substantial experience of working with children and young people AND
  3. Are strong in personal suitability by which we mean that you can demonstrate:

  • both sensitivity and resilience to meet the emotional demands of the training
  • sustained interest in infants, children and adolescents and the ability to engage and build relationships with them.
  • awareness of the impact you have on others and the impact of others on you 
  • respect for others’ difference, identity and individuality
  • 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 spoken communications skills.

*Completion must be to at least Postgraduate Diploma level or to Masters level if you do not already hold a UK honours degree.  For overseas qualifications equivalence of academic level to a UK honours degree can be confirmed by NARIC, see their website.

**An ‘equivalent’ a programme will deliver 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).

Personal psychotherapy and psychoanalysis

Personal psychoanalysis (usually four or five sessions per week) is an essential component of the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy training.  It is at the heart of supporting the trainee’s personal and professional development and strongly contributes towards their continuing development after training. 

Applicants for training are ​strongly encouraged to begin personal psychoanalytic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis (for six months or one year) before they apply to the training as this is an important developmental opportunity.  In some circumstances this might be in the form of once or twice weekly therapy and might be accessed remotely through online technologies.  Personal tutors and/or potential training schools will be able to think with applicants about their options including advice about suitable ​accredited analysts and psychotherapists and help for people with limited funds to access some financial support.

We are committed to widening access to the training and to build on the diversity of our training groups.  We do understand that some applicants will not have the opportunity to start personal therapy, for financial, geographical and other reasons, and we do not want this to be a barrier to making an application. 

Applicants who have not started in personal therapy should, as a minimum, have an understanding about the importance of a personal psychoanalysis for undertaking psychoanalytic work.  This includes thinking about oneself and one’s own readiness for what this might entail, in terms of the exploration of ​one's own conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings.  This can feel quite challenging and thinking about managing one’s own anxiety or other responses is often a part of the process, for all applicants. It is a challenging part of psychoanalytic working as one has to think about and manage one's own responses and anxieties.  If needed, we encourage applicants to contact us, so we can help with thinking about this.

Training schools need to assess candidates’ suitability for the training, on the basis that they can demonstrate they meet the requirements for clinical training, which includes being ready to take part in and learn from personal psychoanalysis.  This will be explored as part of the recruitment and selection process for new trainees.

All accepted applicants need to be in a position to start their personal analysis at the beginning of their training, ​i.e. the latest at the start of the Autumn Term, or they will not be able to take up their place.  There is an accredited list of Analysts who are suitably experienced for working with our trainees.  We have a separate process to help identify a suitable analytic vacancy.  This can take several months, so it is important to contact us early on, in relation to starting before training, or to be ready to start at the beginning of the course. 


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 although all our training is being delivered online in line with NHS and the Government advice.


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.

Most places for this course are funded through a national scheme aimed at training the NHS workforce. If you are successful in your application, you will be directed to apply for training posts, 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 and so not eligible for NHS funding, or you have not secured a funded place, you may be considered on a self-funding basis. Such places are limited and considered on a case by case basis.

There is some limited bursary and loan support offered by charitable Trust funds which trainees can apply for. 

We understand that you will have many questions about this course.  Please see our FAQ's surrounding our Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80) course page for more information.

Professional Doctorate
Course length:
4 years
All day Wednesdays
The Tavistock Centre, London, Leeds
Theoretical approach:
Admission status:
Course lead:
Sarina Campbell and Phillip McGill

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