The Severnside Institute for Psychotherapy offers three courses of weekly seminars aimed at furthering understanding of psychoanalytic thinking and practice.

Fees and Applications

The closing date for applications is 31st May for courses starting the following September (or 30th September for Spring entry to Infant Observation).

Information on our fees and application forms for all of our courses can be found here.


Infant Observation

A two year* course. Each year there are 3 terms of 10 weeks to include:

  • one hour per week observing a baby and their mother in their normal environment
  • a weekly 90 minute seminar in a small group, where observations are discussed with an experienced psychotherapist

*For students wishing to apply to our clinical training to become a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, it is necessary to complete the full two year Infant Observation course. We also welcome applicants who need to complete Infant Observation studies for other training bodies that require one year.

You will have the opportunity of thinking, in great detail, about a mother and baby couple in the first twenty months or so of the baby’s life. As you watch the baby’s development within their early relationship with their mother, and maybe other family members, you will learn how the ordinary challenges and pleasures of relationships are negotiated.

This experience helps you understand about human development and psychology. It helps you become a skilled and thoughtful observer. If you work in a relevant occupation, or go on to train as a psychotherapist, it provides essential learning about how early infantile experiences and patterns of relating persist into adult life.

This course inevitably touches on your own early experiences and you are encouraged to be in your own psychoanalytic psychotherapy, at least weekly.

When you apply for this course you will required to attend an interview, provide two referees, and, if offered a place, have a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.

Work Discussion

A one year course. There are 3 terms of 10 weeks to include:

  • a weekly 90 minute seminar, where participants take it in turns to bring detailed observations for discussion in a group led by an experienced psychotherapist

The course is to help you explore the application of psychoanalytic thinking to your work area. You should work in a relevant setting – that is, you should have regular, one-to-one contact with clients, students or patients. This contact should not be diluted by too great an administrative role. It is not necessary that you work as a counsellor or psychotherapist. If you wish, you may repeat the course to gain further understanding from new examples.

Particular attention will be paid to the feelings evoked in the presenter by the experience with the client(s), and how those feelings can be used to understand what is happening.

The aim of the course is to sharpen perceptions and the effective use of imagination, and to develop awareness of the nature and pervasiveness of unconscious processes.

Classical Freudian Theory

A one year course which can be taken concurrently with Work Discussion. There are 3 terms of 10 weeks to include:

  • directed reading
  • a weekly 90 minute seminar examining Freud’s work

Students are given the opportunity to become familiar with original texts as the course follows the evolution of Freud’s thinking, but the seminar leader will also put Freud’s ideas in context and introduce students to their more contemporary forms in psychoanalysis today, as it is practised in the British clinical tradition of Klein, the Independents and the modern ‘London’ Freudians.

The emphasis of the course is to understand psychoanalytic theory as a means of organising and making sense of clinical observations and experiences and, conversely, to arrive at a fuller understanding of psychoanalytic theory through an examination of its clinical implications.


See our calendar for dates in 2018-2019 & 2019-2020

The Pre-clinical courses start in September. However, it is possible, subject to availability, to join the Infant Observation course in the spring term but, we would advise you to contact us before completing an application.

We aim to arrange seminars so that all three courses can, if wished, be completed in two years. Timetabling allows for attendance at any two of the courses in same year.


Seminars are run at 11 Orchard Street, Bristol.

Further information

Please contact our Training Coordinator by telephone: 0117 927 3898 or by email to

Or you may prefer to use our on-line enquiry form.

Progressing on to Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

If you would like to train as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, the Pre-Clinical courses, or their equivalent, are your first step. The requirements for progressing to the next stage of the training are:

  • Successful completion of all three Pre-Clinical courses, taken over a minimum of two years, and including written papers for the Infant Observation and Work Discussion courses.
    You can also apply to the Clinical Training if you have completed equivalent courses in another BPC organisation. Please contact the SIP administrator to enquire.
  • Three times a week personal psychotherapy with an SIP Approved Training Therapist for at least 18 months before starting the Clinical part of the training, with therapy continuing throughout that training.
  • Experience of working in a psychiatric setting. If you have not worked in a psychiatric setting, SIP will advise you on finding a suitable placement.
  • Relevant professional experience.
  • A professional or academic qualification, or equivalent.

If you are thinking of applying to the Clinical Training, you can discuss it with your tutor or the Pre-Clinical Courses Organiser.

The Training currently runs on Thursday evenings.

Progressing on to Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

For the psychodynamic psychotherapy training you need to:

  • Complete the courses in Classical Freudian Theory and Work Discussion.
  • Have personal psychotherapy with an SIP Approved Training Therapist at least twice weekly for at least a year prior to the clinical training, with therapy continuing throughout that training.
  • Have a qualification and professional experience in psychotherapy, counselling, or the broader mental health field. However, suitable applications from candidates who do not meet this requirement will be considered.

If you are thinking of applying to the Clinical Training in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, you can discuss it with your tutor or the Pre-Clinical Courses Organiser.

This training currently runs on Thursday evenings.