A career in psychoanalysis sounds exciting and a bit dark and mysterious; after all, don’t psychoanalysts get all the cool crazies in the movies, like the nut job from "Fatal Attraction"? As exciting as it sounds, true psychoanalysts have an endless variety of job choices. Legally, anyone can designate herself a “psychoanalyst;” no formal training is needed. Your favorite barista could actually call herself a “Barista Psychoanalyst” without penalty. Tricky, huh? A credentialed psychoanalyst has many more employment doors open to her, but must go through intensive training in psychoanalytic technique.
A properly trained psychoanalyst has a graduate degree in psychology or psychiatry and loads of specific training in counseling techniques appropriate to the psychoanalytic method. Maybe she wants to supplement her income or maybe she is a bit burned out from intense counseling sessions. Whatever the reason, many choose to teach at the high school, college or university level. Teaching at the high school level involves additional training and teaching credentials. Teaching at the college or university level requires no additional graduate school, and offers the appeal of built-in research facilities and test subjects.
A clinician is what most of us think of when we think of psychoanalysts. Clinicians sometimes have their own offices – you know the ones, like Frasier. Slightly dark, a reclining couch, a note-taking professional silently judging and prepping to fix you. The couch and the notes are an essential piece of psychoanalysis, but not all treatment takes place inside a swanky office full of leather furniture. Many clinicians work outside the office, doing their good work in day-care centers, community health centers, prisons, hospitals and countless other venues.
Psychoanalysts are crazy about how the mind works and do loads of research. Sometimes they do research on such fascinating cases that they write about them. Many psychoanalysts do this in addition to their clinical work or research, and some become so excited about it that they become full-time authors. Making the subjects of psychoanalysis real to readers is a uniquely fun and creative process that can become addictive for many.
Research is, for some, the best part of the psychoanalyst’s career. They use their training methods to delve deeper into the human mind and figure out what kind of implications that therapy can have on the connection between a person’s experiences, her body, and her mind. Research can occur in academic institutions or researching medical facilities, and focuses on a variety of areas, such a language, childhood experience, pathology and disease.
Education and Training
Credentialed psychoanalysts have either a doctorate in psychology or psychiatry or are trained medical doctors who have done extensive residencies in psychology or psychiatry. They aren't done yet, though. They also need at least four years of additional clinical training in psychoanalytical techniques, and have to undergo extensive psychoanalysis themselves.
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