Psychoanalytic child and adolescent psychotherapy (M80N)

Course overview

Delivered by NSCAP in Leeds, this internationally renowned course is an NHS Professional Training that will allow you to 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.

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

The taught course component 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, fostering, adoption, kinship care and endings)
  • additional training days on subjects including: work with autistic children, children and adolescents who are violent and aggressive, eating disorders, infant mental health, inpatient services, dissociative presentations, parental mental health 
  • experiential group relations week event 
  • theoretical teaching
  • research seminars (methodology, critical appraisal) and workshops (research development, proposal writing and specialist topics)
  • academic support
  • individual tutorials
  • assessed work.

 Clinical work under supervision 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)

During the first two years of the training, you will be introduced to key research paradigms, to quantitative and qualitative health care research methodologies and to a range of appropriate research designs and methods. You will be encouraged to formulate a research question and develop your own research dissertation proposal for registration for a Professional Doctorate. 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 of 20-24,000 words.

You will be supported by a research supervisor, who gives input on the appropriate methodological and clinical aspects of the study. Studies undertaken range from the systematic analysis of intensive cases (using grounded theory or Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, for example), to small-scale studies conducted in your workplace (e.g, service evaluation).

The clinical training in child and adolescent psychotherapy offered by NSCAP is funded by the NHS in the north of England. NSCAP is one of five centres providing training in child and adolescent psychotherapy in the UK.  This course 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 one of 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.’

This course is for those who have a commitment to working with children and adolescents and substantial experience across the age range.

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

  • have completed the PgDip/MA in Psychoanalytical Observational Studies or an equivalent degree, e.g. PgDip/MA in Working with children, young people & families: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7). Applicants who have completed an observation course at a training establishment other than Leeds are welcome to apply to the NSCAP for the clinical training, but may have to complete additional requirements prior to acceptance. You must have completed either course to MA level if you have not previously completed an undergraduate degree.
  • have substantial experience of working with children and adolescents of varying ages. This experience may have been gained in a number of settings; including health, education and social care.
  • are strong in personal suitability and are able to demonstrate both sensitivity and resilience to meet the emotional demands of the training, have a sustained interest in children and adolescents, are able to engage and build relationships with children and adolescents, have an awareness of the impact you have on others and the impact of others on you, have the ability to keep personal/professional boundaries,  have the ability to ask for and use help, have the ability to keep thinking under pressure and have excellent written and spoken communications skills.

Please note: although it is not a definite requirement for applicants to have had analysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy during the pre-clinical course, it is strongly recommended that once or twice weekly treatment is undertaken in this period. If this has not been possible, one or more consultations with a training analyst or psychoanalytic psychotherapist recognised by NSCAP and the ACP is considered to be a necessary part of the process of considering making an application to the clinical training.

Dr Rajni Sharma is Director of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy training at the Northern School of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy (NSCAP) in Leeds. She has worked in NHS Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services for over 20 years in community, specialist and in-patient settings. This has been as a consultant child and adolescent psychotherapist, (Capt) in Leeds CAMHS and in Manchester and Salford CAMHS since 2010; recently as the lead Capt. Dr Sharma ​was a supervisor and clinician in the largest RCT research on adolescent depression, (IMPACT). She has taught, for many years on M80N. She has also been the lead for  the Masters/Postgraduate Diploma of Psychoanalytic Observational Studies which is run by Northern School of Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, (NSCAP) in collaboration with the University of Leeds. She has a particular interest in group relations and organisational dynamics and a deep commitment to children and families  accessing child and adolescent psychotherapy through the NHS.


This course is full-time, between clinical work in placement and time for training. A full day a full day on Thursday for 3 ten week terms is spent at NSCAP. As well as an addition training day on Thursdays at end of each term.


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.

This is a funded course.  In order to take up a place on the course, all new students need to apply for a fully funded NHS trainee child psychotherapy post in the north of England. There are competitive interviews for these posts. 

Anyone who has been offered a place on the course who is unsuccessful in their application for a trainee child psychotherapist post cannot take up a place on the training in 2020 and will need to reapply for an NHS trainee post the following academic year in 2021.

Professional Doctorate
Course length:
4 years
Admission status:
Course lead:
Dr Rajni Sharma

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