Couples Therapy Training

The Couples Psychotherapy Training Program is a one-year course of study intended for mental health professionals 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.


Bari Smelson, LCSW, PhD and Mary DeVivo, LCSW


Admission is by application and interviews. Each applicant must have current professional liability insurance, a copy of which will be retained in the WCSPP office. Applicants must be from one of the following professions (others will be considered on an individual basis):

  • 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 MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS: Master’s degree from an accredited marriage and family, creative arts therapy, or mental health counseling program. Eligibility for state licensure.



COURSE WORK: The one year academic program is organized as a trimester system with one course per trimester. The course meets for 11 weeks on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 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 couple through the Psychotherapy Service, 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. 


Tuition: $575 per course per trimester, to be paid prior to the start of each trimester

Administrative fee: $75 per trimester, to be paid at the time of course registration

Individual supervision: $50 per session

Financial assistance may be available on a need documented basis, and individual payment plans may be arranged with prior approval.


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.  

Couples Therapy Training Program Scholarship 

Honoring Rosalind Cohen, LCSW 

 Rosalind Cohen, who died September 10, 2021, left an impressive and inspiring mark on WCSPP.  As an instructor, supervisor and, ultimately, Co-Director of WCSPP’s Couples Therapy Training Program, Roz’s contributions to the NY area mental health community were impactful–both in how she helped shape the training experience of so many students at WCSPP, Montefiore Medical Center Department of Psychiatry (where she worked for 38 years) as well as its Family Studies Program.  She was also an esteemed and collaborative colleague who gave her time and stepped up to lead and to mentor many mental health professionals.  Thanks to the loving tribute made by Roz’s husband, Richard Joelson DSW, in her honor, WCSPP joins him in carrying on Roz’s influence–including her and Richard’s abiding interest in making mental health education more widely available.  This scholarship removes the financial barrier that may exist to seeking this valuable training for qualifying students.  Special attention will be paid to those who are working with underserved communities.

The Roz Cohen Couples Therapy Training Scholarship will fully cover the year-long training costs (tuition as well as 30 hours of supervision) of two selected candidates entering the Couples Therapy Training Program at WCSPP, annually. Candidates who wish to be considered for the scholarship should submit the following materials to on or before August 1:

1)     Training Application

2)     Financial Assistance Application

3)     A personal statement of approximately 250 words describing your motivation to seek advanced psychoanalytic training. How would psychodynamic couples training help you to develop your practice? What interests you about working with couples?

The selection committee may use these materials and any additional information it deems necessary, such as interviews, in order to reach its decision. The decision of the selection committee will be final, and recipients of the scholarship will be notified mid-August.