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

Time-tabling allows attendance at any two of the Courses in the same evening.


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

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 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 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

The course offers an opportunity to study the development of Freud’s thought as he struggled to account theoretically for the observations he was making in his clinical work. We will examine how certain of Freud’s concepts have retained their centrality in modern theory, while others were jettisoned or revised. We emphasise the fostering of an attitude which sees theorising as a means of organising – and making sense of – clinical observations and experiences.Dates

See our calendar for dates in 2017-2018.

The Pre-Clinical courses start in September. The closing date for applications is usually in June.

We aim to arrange seminars so that all three courses can, if wished, be completed in two years. It may be possible to take Work Discussion and Classical Theory in the same year.


Seminars are run at 11 Orchard Street, Bristol.


Fees for 2017-18 are £850.00 per course per year, £200 of the fee must be paid as a deposit when submitting your application. Plus £60.00 DBS fee if required.

Infant Observation is a 2 year course. Work Discussion and Classical Theory are both 1 year courses.

Acceptance of a place is a contractual commitment to pay the full fee, and fees are not normally refunded if you subsequently withdraw for any reason.

Application form

External Applicants Preclinical Application Form 2018-19

Equality Monitoring Form 2018

Further information

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

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

Important notes

  • SIP reserves the right not to run a course.
  • SIP reserves the right not to accept an applicant.
  • SIP reserves the right to alter its existing constitution, criteria for membership, training procedures, timetables and assessments.
  • No places will be filled after the start of the course.
  • If you have particular access needs please let us know as soon as possible so that we can discuss how best to meet these.

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 taught part of this training currently runs on Monday late afternoons and evenings.

Progressing on to Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

For the psychodynamic psychotherapy training you need to:

  • Complete the courses in Classical 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.