Infant Observation

Whilst this is a two-year course, we do accept applicants who require one year of infant observation for other training providers. Trainees visit an infant in their own home for one hour a week and observe the mother/baby couple, and other family members if they are present, going about their ordinary everyday lives. Trainees also attend thirty 90-minute seminars each year where observations are discussed, in confidence, with an experienced psychotherapist.

You will have the opportunity of thinking, in great detail, about a mother and baby in the first couple of years of the baby’s life and will learn how the ordinary challenges and pleasures of family relationships are negotiated. This experience aids an understanding of human development and psychology while becoming 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. Importantly, this course develops an observational stance which is the bedrock of the analytic position which is why it is deemed an essential component of our Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy training.

This course inevitably touches on your own early experiences and you are encouraged to be in at least weekly personal therapy with a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

More information

Time commitmentAssessmentVenueEntry requirementsCourse FeesHow to applyWhat next?

Time commitment

All Pre-clinical courses start in September (Click here for term dates).

Seminars: 90 minutes per week, per course (on a Monday afternoon or evening) across three 10-week terms

Observation of infant (Infant Observation course only): 1 hour per week (excluding additional time for any travel required )

Whilst pre-clinical seminars are scheduled so more than one can be undertaken in the same academic year, it is important to be realistic about the time commitment when deciding which courses to take in any one year. You should also factor for time spent reading, travelling and, for those seeking to apply for clinical training, weekly training therapy.


Participants in Infant Observation and Work Discussion are encouraged to complete a paper (and are required to, if wishing to go on to our clinical training).

Those who complete and pass the paper will be awarded a SIP certificate. Those who elect not to write a paper will receive a CPD certificate of attendance.


Currently all our training is delivered in central Bristol. However, as a training institute for the South West our membership is drawn from across the region and both training therapy and supervision is available in Bristol and beyond.

Entry requirements

Classical Freudian Theory

Applicants with no previous experience of psychoanalytic theory should complete our introductory course ‘Introduction to psychoanalytic theories and concepts

Infant Observation

Applicants are required to attend an interview and pass an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Check. Applicants are also encouraged to be in (at least) weekly psychotherapy with a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

Work Discussion

You should work or be volunteering in a situation that is primarily aimed at helping others. You should have regular one-to-one contact with, for example, clients, students or patients, and the contact should not be diluted by too great an administrative role.

This course might be of interest not only to counsellors and psychotherapists, but also to people working or volunteering in teaching, medical roles, social work, caring settings, support work, advice agencies, or befrienders and buddy roles. Completion of this course (or equivalent) is a requirement for our clinical training.

Course fees

2022-23 Classical Freudian Theory£1,375 (including £200 deposit, payable upon submission of application)
2022-23 Work Discussion£1,375 (including £200 deposit, payable upon submission of application)
2022-23 Infant Observation£1,375 (including £200 deposit, payable upon submission of application) + £53 DBS check fee (if required)

In addition to training fees you should budget for such things as training therapy, supervision, books, stationery and travel. Please also note that we review fees each year, and a slight annual increase should be expected.

Please ensure you read over our payment terms here.

The Iris Tute Bursaries

This is a small fund open to anyone who would otherwise be prevented from pursuing their interest in psychotherapy. Subject to funds in any given year we aim to offer a limited number of bursaries of up to £200 for help with course fees on the introductory and pre-clinical courses. See the bursary application form here.

The fund is named The Iris Tute Bursaries in remembrance of the work and generosity of Iris Tute, a former member of SIP who wanted psychotherapy and, training in psychotherapy to be as accessible as possible. It is thanks to Iris Tute that we have our premises at Orchard Street.

How to apply

Please note: There is no intake to SIP’s clinical trainings in September 2023, in order to accommodate the delivery of the curriculum; the next clinical intake will be September 2024.

Applications open from 1st April each year to join the following September. We encourage you to make contact prior to application by, for example, attending our Open Day normally in March each year.

Application closing date: 31st May* to start the following September.

*Please contact the office if you are considering applying after the closing date.

Pre-clinical Course Application Form
– (116KB DOCX)
Download >>
Equality Monitoring FormComplete >>

Please note:

  • If you have particular access needs please let us know as soon as possible so that we can discuss how best to meet these.
  • Courses will only run in any academic year subject to sufficient applications.
  • We follow an equal opportunities policy in our selection procedure.
  • We reserve the right to alter our existing constitution, criteria for membership, training procedures, timetables and assessments.

What next?

For those interested in joining our clinical training, completion of Classical Freudian Theory and Work Discussion is required for entry to our psychodynamic psychotherapy training; and, completion of all three courses is required for entry to our psychoanalytic psychotherapy training.