About the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis


About Psychoanalysis

As a general theory of individual human behavior and experience, psychoanalytic ideas enrich and are enriched by the study of the biological and social sciences, group behavior, history, philosophy, art, and literature. As a developmental theory, psychoanalysis contributes to child psychology, education, law, and family studies. Through its examination of the complex relationship between body and mind, psychoanalysis also furthers our understanding of the role of emotions in health as well as in medical illness. APsaA's publication, "About Psychoanalysis", is a valuable reference tool.

The psychoanalytic framework stresses the importance of understanding:

that each individual is unique,that there are factors outside of a person's awareness (unconscious thoughts) which influence his or her thoughts and actions, that the past shapes the present.

What is Psychoanalysis?

When people ask what psychoanalysis is, they usually want to know about treatment. As a therapy, psychoanalysis is based on the observation that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and behavior. These unconscious factors may create unhappiness, sometimes in the form of recognizable symptoms and at other times as troubling personality traits, difficulties in work or in love relationships, or disturbances in mood and self-esteem. Because these forces are unconscious, the advice of friends and family, the reading of self-help books, or even the most determined efforts of will, often fail to provide relief Read More...



The Society was formed when thirteen charter members met at St Elizabeths hospital in 1914, five years after Freud's Clark University lectures. The departure of several members for military service in World War I brought a halt to Society meetings in 1918. During the 1920s both the Washington Psychopathological Society and the Washington Psychoanalytic Association had active programs of lectures and seminars in psychoanalysis. The Washington-Baltimore Psychoanalytic Society was founded in 1930 by several members of the pre-existing Societies, led by Ernest E. Hadley, and was recognized by the International Psychoanalytic Association. It joined with New York, Chicago, and Boston to federate the American Psychoanalytic Association.

In 1933, an education program was launched by the Washington-Baltimore Psychoanalytic Society providing training in psychoanalysis, which has evolved since in accordance with the standards of the American Psychoanalytic Association. From 1946 to 1952, the combined Institute operated under the general supervision of a joint Institute Committee and the local supervision of the Education Committee in each of the two cities. Eventually, growth of the faculties and student bodies made division of the combined Institute desirable. In 1955 the American Psychoanalytic Association granted full status to both Institutes.

Beginning in the 1980s the Washington Psychoanalytic Society broadened its programs to include offerings for people drawn to the principles of psychoanalysis, who were not necessarily proceeding to full analytic training. In 1990 the Washington Psychoanalytic Foundation was created in order to provide a home for these expanded programs and to raise funds for them.  It flourished under its founder Harvey Rich and later presidents, K. Derek Hawver and Charles Olsen.  The year 2000 saw the beginning of a process of re-examination of structure and governance culminating in a change of name to the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, a revision of the mission statement, and organization under a Board of Directors.

Further details of the history of the organization can be found in Noble, D., and Burnham, D., A History of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, Chapter 26 in Psychoanalysis and Psychosis, edited by Ann Silver, M.D., International Universities Press, 1989.

The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, Inc. is incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization under the laws of the District of Columbia for the advancement of professional and educational activities of its members and Candidates. The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, Inc. is an affiliate society of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, Inc. is accredited by the American Psychoanalytic Association to sponsor continuing medical education for physicians. The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, Inc. is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists. The programs of the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, Inc. meet the criteria for Category I continuing education as defined by the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners, District of Columbia and Virginia Boards of Social Work, and the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work.

The Center is qualified legally to receive gifts, contributions, and bequests. Inquiries may be directed to the Chief Operating Officer, Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, Inc.