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

We understand that you may have questions about studying this course with us.  We have consolidated the most frequent questions we get asked and put them below.

Young people sitting on a bench

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists (CAPT) are highly skilled mental health professionals who work with children, young people and their families. Rigorous clinical training enables CAPTs to develop the necessary skills and competences to assess, treat and work with the 0-25 age range, their parents, carers and networks. 

This training is longer than most psychological professions to enable the breadth and depth of skills to develop that are required for complex work with children and young people. CAPTs are trained to work with a wide range of mental health conditions including highly disturbed emotional states, are able to sustain relationships with the child or young person and carefully observe what they might be communicating non-verbally through their behaviour and play. 

CAPTs seek to look beneath the surface of difficult emotions, behaviours and relationships to help their patients make sense of their experiences, to better understand themselves and their problems. Over time the child or young person can begin to express emotions in less disturbed ways, are likely to feel less anxious, more able to learn, feel better equipped to sustain relationships and return to the normal process of emotional development.  

This training comprises of our two year pre-clinical course Working with children, young people & families: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7) or an equivalent course with similar learning outcomes. This course helps develop an observational, reflective stance which alongside an understanding of child development and the unconscious mind manifestations, is the core of the CAPT approach. 

This is followed by an NHS funded four year full-time clinical training and a Professional Doctorate qualification, Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80) . The programme includes teaching, supervision, personal psychoanalysis and a salaried training post (on NHS Band 6) in a child and adolescent mental health service. 

The training provides a thorough understanding of child development, childhood psychopathology and psychoanalytic psychotherapeutic technique enhanced by research knowledge and skills alongside extensive clinical work. Trainees work intensively with three patients of different ages and learn to apply the understanding gained in this experience to other interventions, such as brief work, consultations, work with families, groups, teams and networks. 

It is a full time, four year programme of integrated study, validated by the University of Essex, leading to the award of professional doctorate in child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy. 

In addition is the clinical work in an appropriate work/training placement and this includes 3 or 3.5 days a week working at a training placement in addition to one full study day (Wednesday) at the Tavistock Center.

The questions below will help you before you apply to us:

In addition to our website the following sources provide information about Child Psychotherapy:

  • The Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) are the professional body linked to the M80 training and has an informative website and publishes a series of pamphlets on relevant issues:  http://www.childpsychotherapy.org.uk/ 
  • A flavour of the current work of child psychotherapists can be found in the Journal of Child Psychotherapy and the International Journal of Infant Observation.

You would need to complete our two year pre-clinical course Working with children, young people & families: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7) or an equivalent course with similar learning outcomes to this course. You can apply to the M80 doctoral training during your second year in (or equivalent), provided you have completed and passed the course by the time you start the training. 

In addition, you need to have an Honours degree*. If you do not have an undergraduate Honours degree you will need to complete and pass the M7 dissertation before you start the M80 training.

 *Please note: If you have an international degree you will need to apply to NARIC to verify your degree equivalence in the United Kingdom:; https://www.naric.org.uk/naric/About%20Us.aspx

In order to apply to the course, you will need:

1. An Honours degree or equivalent*

2. Successful completion of the pre-clinical training Working with children, young people & families: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7) or an equivalent course with similar learning outcomes to M7. This course provides a foundation for the clinical training. With your M80 application form you will need to provide academic papers submitted for the M7 course: 

  • Infant Observation Paper**
  • Work Discussion Paper**
  • Child Development Research Paper
  • One Psychoanalytic Theory Paper

3. Work experience: substantial experience with at least two of the three age-groups (pre-school, primary school and adolescents), and some supplementary experience with the third age group. The minimum experience required is one year of full-time work with children and young people, but two to three years are an advantage.

4. Analysis: You will need to have been in a minimum of three times weekly psychoanalysis for one year with a Tavistock/Association of Child Psychotherapy (ACP) accredited Psychoanalyst/Psychotherapist when you start the training. Your analyst needs to approve with your application.

5. References:  from your M7 tutor and teachers and from your work place.

6. Personal suitability : which is demonstrated by showing:

  • 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. 

Please note that this does not guarantee a place on the training. 

*If you have an international degree you will need to apply to NARIC to verify your degree equivalence in the United Kingdom: https://www.naric.org.uk/naric/About%20Us.aspx 

**The Infant Observation and Work Discussion Papers are required for the selection process and a discussion of some aspects of the papers you upload, will form part of the interview.

If you completed pre-clinical training at another institution you might need to complete some of our M7 modules that are lacking from your previous course in order to satisfy the M7 learning outcomes and be eligible to apply to M80. 

Occasionally applicants have been accepted without completing all modules of M7 but this depends on what has been studied, work experience and personal suitability. What this involves will vary and is agreed on a case by case basis.

Experience must be gained in a professional setting within an organisation as a volunteer or employee. Experience does not need to be with a clinical population but must consist of direct face-to-face contact with children and young people. This can be individual or group work with this age group.

Applicants must have substantial experience of work with at least two of the three age-groups (pre-school, primary school and adolescents), and some supplementary experience with the third age group. The minimum experience required is one year of full-time work with children and young people, but two to three years are an advantage. 

Many of our trainees live and work outside London but train at the Tavistock. Coming from as far afield as Northern Ireland, Cornwall (and even once from Paris!), they travel to the Clinic each Wednesday to take part in seminars and to receive supervision. At the moment due to the Covid 19 all teaching is delivered by zoom.

The questions below relate to the analysis that you need to be in before and during your training:

Personal analysis is vitally important for those undertaking this very demanding training and work, although we appreciate how difficult funding this can be.

You will need to have been in a minimum of three times weekly psychoanalysis for one year with a Tavistock/Association of Child Psychotherapy (ACP) accredited Psychoanalyst/Psychotherapist when you start the training.  The psychoanalyst/psychotherapist has to be accredited as a training analyst for the Tavistock child psychotherapy training (Not just for any other training or other Tavistock courses).

During the training period you will need to increase the sessions to a minimum of four times weekly and this has to be maintained throughout the training.

As a Tavistock and Portman M7 student you should initially discuss this with your M7 personal tutor and think through the financial and time implications. If you are encouraged to apply to the training you can send an analyst request by completing a ‘Request for analytic consultation' form (ask your tutor for the form). It is advisable to do this during the spring term of M7 Year 1. 

You will then receive a name and contact details of a psychoanalyst you can approach. 

Applicants who are not M7 students can also be helped to find an analyst. They would need to contact the M80 administrator in order for their request to be forwarded to the M80 tutor team.

You will need to use the  ‘Request for analytic consultation’ form. Ask your tutor for a form or contact the M80 admin (if you are not an M7 student) who will forward your request to the M80 tutor team. Use the from to provide the name and address of your current analyst and if they are not accredited by the Tavistock/ACP we can discuss options with you, i.e. changing analyst or considering whether your analyst could be accredited, etc.   

Your analyst is not asked for a character reference. However, during the interview stage your analyst is asked to confirm that there is no reason you should not train.   

The questions below are in relation to employtment and funding when you are are trainee:

During the four years of training most trainees work in funded NHS posts or independent services that are approved as training placements.

Once you are accepted onto the course, you will be given details of available posts you can apply to and be interviewed for by potential employers. Posts are competitive so it is advisable to apply to a few. The number of training posts available varies each year but there are usually a number of placements across London, East England and South East England. 

In some parts of the South West students attending the M7 course have funded posts in CAMHS as Assistant Psychotherapists and as well as a salary they receive help with analytic fees. Once they successfully complete the M7 course and have been accepted onto the M80 course they continue as trainees in the same placements.

You will undertake clinical work under supervision (3 or 3.5 days a week) as a member of a clinical multidisciplinary team, for example in CAMHS. In addition to taking part in team meetings, you will engage in:

  • long-term psychoanalytic cases
  • shorter term treatments 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).

You can defer the training and apply to posts again the following year.

Fees are paid by the employer who has provided you with the training placement. You will receive a monthly salary that is equivalent to Band 6 of the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale. You also receive a monthly contribution towards your analytic fees to be claimed monthly.

Most trainees work full time for the duration of the four-year training. In some placements it has been possible to work part time over five years and this depends on the training placement and trainees will still be expected to attend the full study day at the Tavistock and Portman.

The questions below relate to self funding and overseas applicants:

We are delighted that our reputation of excellence continues to attract students from all over the world. However, students from outside the UK must arrange their immigration status before they apply. It is important that they check their legal position carefully, taking external advice if necessary.

Training posts are available only for those who are eligible to work in the NHS once qualified. We welcome overseas applicants who are in a position to self-fund, but it is important to be realistic about the cost.

Yes, places can be offered to self-funding students. These students will usually undertake their clinical work at the Tavistock and Portman or in a voluntary capacity in another NHS or third sector setting.

Qualified psychotherapists, or those from a related profession such as psychiatry or psychology who already have significant clinical experience, may occasionally be eligible to join the course as a clinical associate in order to revisit or top-up their previous training.

Those wishing to explore this route should discuss their situation with the course lead.

The questions below relate to post qualification:

M80 is an academic course leading to the award of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. It is also an NHS Professional Training leading to qualification as a child and adolescent psychotherapist as recognised by the Association of Child Psychotherapists and the Department of Health. 

Successful completion of the course to M. Prof. level after 4 years leads to eligibility for Membership of the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) which is the registering body for the profession.

Qualified Child Psychotherapists can work in public services such as the NHS or voluntary sectors as well as in private practice. 

It is strongly recommended that Child Psychotherapists continue to have supervision post qualification. This is expected by the ACP and part of continued CPD post qualification.

The application process for the next academic year:

  • Applications can be made on our website via the 'Apply' button on the course page from early December 2020. The deadline for submission is midday, Monday 25 January 2021.
  • Interviews for the training are held during February and March 2021.
  • You will hear if you have been offered a place after all interviews have been completed – in late March 2021.
  • Successful applicants will be invited to attend a zoom meeting on: Wednesday 31 March at 6 pm.
  • Information about the application process for training posts commissioned by the NHS in London, East and South East England, will be given to successful candidates during a ‘Meet the clinics’ evening on: Tuesday 20th April at 6.30 pm, to meet people from each of the training posts offered for October 2021 start, prior to application for posts. This is to be attended by everyone who wants to apply to posts in these areas. Successful applicants are given details of training posts available, and apply to posts of their choice to which they need to be short listed and interviewed.
  • In June and July successful applicants who have secured a training post, apply for membership of the ACP.
  • In September applicants start the M80 course and begin work in their training placement.

 Applicant checklist: 

  1. I have a UK Honours degree or equivalent. 
  2. I have or will have passed M7 or equivalent.
  3. I have substantial experience of working with two of the three age-groups (pre-school, primary school and adolescents). 
  4. I will have been in analysis 3 times weekly for at least a year before I start the training and have checked with the Tavistock that my analyst is accredited by the  Tavistock/ACP.
  5. I have checked my legal position as an overseas student. 
  6. My analyst, M7 tutor and job referees support my application.