Program Overview
The Two-Year Object Relations Theory and Practice core program provides a concentrated immersion in object relations theory and therapy at the International Institute of Object Relations Therapy. This intensive training program is designed in a modular, block-training format to accommodate both local professionals and those who commute to Washington, D.C. The two-year program consists of two summer Institutes and eight three-day weekends over two years.

Summer Institutes
The summer institute takes place in July or early August. On even years, the focus is on the integration of infant studies and object relations theory in application to clinical work and on the use of countertransference. On odd years, the program offers an immersion in Kleinian and British Independent group theoretical constructs and technical approaches to psychotherapy. We read Balint, Bion, Bowlby, Guntrip, Segal, Sutherland, Winnicott and more recent contributors, Bollas, Casement, Joseph, Mitchell, Ogden, Tustin, and Scharff and Scharff. The curriculum is taught by faculty who also lead small group discussions and by a distinguished visiting fellow associated with the Tavistock Clinic. The summer institute is restricted to those who enrol for the two year program.

Weekend Conferences
Each weekend features a guest contributor of international note whose work is at the leading edge of contemporary object relations theory. Advanced program participants are encouraged to prepare themselves as teachers by giving theoretical discussion papers and clinical presentations. At each weekend conference, the membership of the large group of the two-year program is enriched by the addition of weekend-only registrants who then participate in their own one-weekend-only small groups and plenary review meeting.

The Educational Method
We use an open systems format that derives from object relations principles. Faculty and students facilitate each other's growth in an open systems learning format. We learn together from didactic material and from experience to integrate cognition and affect, theory and technique, intrapsychic and interpersonal dimensions, to examine our own contributions with integrity, and to value the wisdom and creativity of the small and large group. The design brings students and faculty to the shared task of studying basic concepts in relation to the new ideas of internationally recognized contributors at the leading edge of the field. The format includes lecture, case presentation, video, large group discussion and small group process, review and integration of the material at the cognitive, emotional and relational levels.

The Integrative Task and the Small Group
The small group meets twice a day during the events of the two-year program. After their participation in the large group discussion of the presentations, small group members meet to integrate their intellectual and emotional reactions to the material at the individual and group levels and to apply it to their clinical situations so as to internalize their new knowledge. The leader makes a 2-year commitment and the group retains the same membership over the course of the two years. Because of this shared commitment to the integrative task, the group becomes intensely meaningful to its participants.

We ask for participants attendance at all meetings of their small groups, because group support and consistency are important in facilitating internalization of new concepts and methods. The learning may be stressful, and so we ask that participants have enough physical and emotional resilience to cope with the level of commitment and intensity of experience. The aim of the small group is to develop the therapist self as a flexible therapeutic instrument with new knowledge and enhanced skill that applies to the clinical situation.

Supervision is not required for satisfactory completion of this program. As an option, supervision can be made available in person for local students and by telephone for students from other locations. Those who live near the satellite cities may choose to join a supervision or study group as well.

Selection of Applicants
Participants are mental health professionals or students who are accepted on the basis of interest in object relations theory and commitment to group learning. We recruit a diverse body of participants at various levels of experience and from all mental health disciplines. Participants who also wish to enrol in the Satellite Clinical Application Program must be licensed or license-eligible.

Personal Therapy
Knowledge of their own defenses, transferences, and anxieties is fundamental to the object relations therapist's capacity to offer a therapeutic relationship. The faculty of the IIORT expects that participants will undertake their own personal therapy. Therapy is not, however a requirement for participation in the two-year Object Relations Theory and Practice core program (ORTP) or its weekend conferences, but it is required for applicants to the Clinical Application Program (CAP).

Cancellation Policy
Refunds will be made for written cancellations received in advance of the opening day of a conference or program, less a non-refundable portion of the registration fee which will be retained to cover administrative costs. The non-refundable portion of the registration fee for the full two-year program is $100; for each separate weekend $50. IIORT reserves the right to cancel conferences or programs in the case of insufficient registration or other unforseeable circumstance. In the event of cancellation, registrants will be notified and all fees will be refunded in full. IIORT accepts no further liability to students, faculty or guest speakers.

The Theory and Practice Certificate is earned upon completion of the national two-year core program in Object Relations Theory and Practice (approximately 240 hours).


Click here for further information about each institute and weekend
Click here for details of local courses in the Washington area