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The Couples Psychotherapy Training Program is a one-year course of study intended for mental health practitioners who recognize the complexities and responsibilities of doing effective couples work. The program integrates contemporary psychoanalytic thinking with systems theory from a practice-oriented, clinical perspective. Meeting one evening a week, students benefit from small seminar settings. Typically, each entering group becomes a cohesive peer circle enjoyed long after the formal training.

In addition to this classroom experience, the WCSPP community gives a uniquely welcoming and supportive collegial atmosphere where one can expand and advance their interests. In particular, graduates enjoy enduring personal connections and professional opportunities long after completion of the training. Many return to enroll in WCSPP’s additional programs: psychoanalytic training, adult psychotherapy, child/adolescent psychotherapy training, and the variety of collegial committees.


Directors: Carolyn Cullen, PhD, LCSW and Bari Smelson-Kanwal, PhD, LCSW


PSYCHIATRY: M.D. from an accredited medical school, completion of one year of psychiatric residency plus ongoing residency while in training.

PSYCHOLOGY: Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology from an accredited university or professional school. Eligibility for state licensure.

SOCIAL WORK: Masters or doctoral degree from an accredited school of social work. Eligibility for state licensure.

Other Licensed MENTAL HEALTH professionals from accredited programs: This includes licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed creative arts therapists, and licensed mental health counselors. Others are considered on an individual basis.

Admission is by application and interview. Applicants are encouraged to apply prior to May 15. Each applicant must have current professional liability insurance, a copy of which will be retained in the WCSPP office.


COURSE WORK: The one year academic program is organized as a trimester system with one course per trimester. The course meets for one hour and twenty minutes for 11 weeks on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 8:20 PM. On the twelfth Tuesday of each trimester candidates attend a Town Meeting where WCSPP candidates, graduates, and faculty assemble for discussion.

SUPERVISION: A minimum of 30 hours of faculty supervision with one faculty supervisor are required. Supervision is offered at a reduced fee of $50 per individual session.

CLINICAL REQUIREMENT: For the supervision to count toward graduation, one needs to be seeing a Psychotherapy Service patient, and all policies and procedures in the Psychotherapy Service Manual need to be followed. All training patients must be seen for a minimum of 24 of the 30 supervisory sessions; if this does not occur additional supervision will be required. If more than one couple is used to meet the supervisory requirement, each couple must be seen for at least 8 sessions to qualify. It is strongly recommended that a couple being seen for training purposes be seen once a week for at least the first eight weeks of the treatment.

FEES: There is an annual $75 registration fee to cover administrative costs. Course tuition is $525 per course and the tuition is to be paid prior to the start of each trimester. If needed, individual payment plans can be arranged.


There are three trimesters for the year: fall (F), winter (W), and spring (S). Candidates take one course per trimester:

FALL: Introduction to Theory and Practice in Couples Therapy – This is a foundation course designed to create comfort working with couples through learning some of the basic theory of systems and psychodynamic approaches in couples work. Learning how to perform a couple’s assessment, to engage both members, and dealing with resistances are highlighted. The use of genograms in providing a context for understanding the couple and their dilemmas is discussed.

WINTER: Integration of Psychodynamic and Systems Theory – The examination of current conflicts and how they relate to family of origin issues is discussed with an emphasis on moving the couple away from blaming and feeling stuck. Different theoretical models are taught to enable students to learn a variety of possible approaches to managing couples dilemmas as well as to learn about their own style and what fits them. Some of the models taught include Bowen, Gottman, Sue Johnson, Internal Family Systems and Solution Focused Couple therapy as well as others.

SPRING: Special Topics in Couples Therapy – The goal of this class is to familiarize students in the treatment of couples who have particular circumstances that affect their psychodynamic and systemic functioning.The class combines a theoretical approach with clinical practice material and role play. Issues covered include sexual dysfunction, the impact of a trauma history on the couple, multicultural, interfaith, interracial, and LGBTQ couples and substance abuse.