What is the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry?


The American Academy of Psychodynamic Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (AAPDPP)is a scholarly society including psychiatrists interested in all aspects of psychodynamic psychiatry.


The American Academy of Psychoanalysis was founded in 1956. At that time, the American Psychoanalytic Association, which was the dominant psychoanalytic organisation in North America, set standards for training psychoanalytic candidates at psychoanalytic institutes and certified individual psychoanalysts and institutes as well. The seventy-six Charter members who founded the Academy were concerned that focus on certification associated with a rigid Freudian framework inhibited free and open discourse about basic psychoanalytic concepts. They wanted to establish a forum for open discussion and debate but not an organisation that would certify psychoanalysts or psychoanalytic institutes. The guiding philosophy of this new organisation was expressed by its first President, Janet Rioch:

“The process of communication by forum is of value to encourage honest exchange of scientific opinion and observations; to build upon and expand those basic premises which survive critical scrutiny; to have the courage to discard that which cannot be regarded as scientifically valid in light of our present knowledge.”

Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry

Since the inception of the Academy, great changes have taken place in the practice of psychoanalysis and in the application of depth psychology (from the German term Tiefenpsychologie and commonly termed “psychoanalytic psychology”) to psychiatric symptoms, syndromes and disorders. The Academy changed its name to The American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry and became an Affiliate organisation of the American Psychiatric Association in 1998. From originally being an organisation of medical psychoanalysts, the Academy became an organisation of psychiatrists interested in all aspects of psychodynamic psychiatry. Psychoanalysis as a treatment technique remains one of its many interests. The membership of The Academy consists of psychiatrists, psychiatric residents, and medical students. Researchers and scholars who are not psychiatrists are welcomed as Scientific Associates.

Psychodynamic Psychiatry

Psychodynamic psychiatry is a new discipline that has emerged from a fusion of psychoanalytic and extra-psychoanalytic psychology, neuroscience and academic psychiatry.

Psychodynamic treatments are based on assessment that is carried out from a developmental perspective. Particular attention is paid to the person’s present and past psychiatric illnesses, experiences of trauma, and family history. The patient’s behaviour is reported both descriptively using established psychiatric diagnostic criteria from the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The patient’s behaviour is in addition understood in terms of subjectively constructed narratives.

Psychodynamic psychiatry accepts concepts that are clinically useful and/or scientifically important but discards those that have not stood the test of time. Although it enthusiastically endorses research, it also recognises that much knowledge about normal and abnormal behaviour (however these terms are defined) is based on clinical experience. Thus, for example, the official journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry is entitled Psychodynamic Psychiatry and publishes clinical case discussions as well as scholarly reviews and research investigations. As time goes on, psychodynamic psychiatry as a body of knowledge will change as more is learned about the relationships between neuroscience, psychopathology, and individual feelings and behaviour.

All psychodynamic treatments are organised around a therapeutic alliance forged by both participants. They include psychoanalysis, briefer therapies and combinations of therapies including, for example, individual and group psychotherapy, family therapy and/or pharmacotherapy. Psychodynamically oriented treatments may be of any duration from a single meeting to weeks to years. They may take place anywhere the practitioner meets with a patient – not only in the outpatient setting but in inpatient psychiatric services, the emergency ward, and general hospital medical and surgical settings where consultation-liaison psychiatrists use developmental principles and alliance with the patient to render care. In other words, wherever the psychodynamically trained psychiatrist interacts with a patient, the practitioner uses a developmental approach to understand that person and help him or her get better.


All activities of the Academy foster communication and discussion of psychodynamic concepts as expressed in clinical treatment, research, psychological development and diverse other ways as well. A major priority of The Academy is to teach the principles of psychodynamic psychiatry to medical students, psychiatric residents and other mental health professionals and students. The specific activities include:

  • Annual Meeting Of The Academy The meetings take place immediately prior to the annual meeting of The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and are usually organised around a central theme for example, the meeting in 2013 was focused on the suicidal patient.
    • The meeting in 2016 was focused on play.
  • Symposia and workshops at the American Psychiatric Association and the Institute on Psychiatric Services (IPS)
  • Annual meeting in Italy co-sponsored with OPIFER (Organizzazione Psicoanalisti Italiania Federazione e Registro).
  • Past meetings in Washington DC co-sponsored with the Consortium for Psychoanalytic Research.

Publications and Out-Reach Activities

Psychodynamic Psychiatry (The Journal)

Psychodynamic Psychiatry, the official journal of The American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, published by Guilford Press, was created in response to the need for the continued study and teaching of psychodynamic concepts in organised psychiatry. Psychodynamic Psychiatry is the only English-language psychiatric journal exclusively devoted to the study and discussion of these issues.

The central tenet of the journal is that psychodynamic principles are necessary for adequately understanding and treating people with psychiatric symptoms, syndromes and disorders. Its guiding framework is developmental and bio-psycho-social.

The journal publishes review articles, clinical discussions and research. Psychodynamic Psychiatry is edited by Richard C. Friedman MD. The Deputy Editors are Jennifer Downey, MD and Cesar Alfonso, MD.

From 1958 to 1972 the Academy published its proceedings in monograph form under the rubric “Science and Psychoanalysis” edited by Jules Masserman. In 1973 Silvano Arieti became the first editor of the Journal which was entitled Journal of The American Academy of Psychoanalysis. Subsequent Editors- in Chief included Morton Cantor, Jules Bemporad and Douglas Ingram. When Richard C. Friedman became Editor in Chief in 2012, the journal’s name was changed to Psychodynamic Psychiatry.

The Academy Forum

The Academy Forum is a magazine that is published twice yearly and focuses on psychoanalytic and psychodynamically oriented articles about art and culture.

The Academy Newsletter

The Academy Newsletter is published electronically 4 times a year and gives information about the organisation and its members.

Teichner Scholars Programme

The late Victor J Teichner was a former President of the AAPDPP. A grateful patient established a fund making it possible to impart the spirit of Teichner’s creative therapeutic perspective to psychiatric clinicians in training. The Victor J. Teichner Award is made annually to one psychiatric residency programme on the basis of an application to the Award Committee, composed of representatives of the AAPDPP and the AADPRT (American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training). Its focus is to promote the teaching of psychodynamic principles to psychiatrists-in-training. The Programme Awardee receives a one- to three-day visit from a Visiting Scholar chosen from a list maintained by the AAPDP. The choice of the Visiting Scholar and structure of the visit are made by the Programme. The visit must take place during the academic year beginning 01 July, after the announcement of the Awardee.

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