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Accreditation practices have evolved over many centuries and derive from myriad competency practices. Their roots can be traced back to the European craft and trade guilds of the Middle Ages. Artisans and craftsmen sought to organize and elect common practices and perfections for their various crafts, trades, and services. The Guild Apprenticeship was born during this period, and in turn the training and formation of the modern professions followed stemming from the middle of the 17th century and on into the 19th century. The entry of the middle classes into the professions during the late 19th century brought renewed vigor to the activity of organizing common standards for skills and training. In today’s vernacular, we look to the emerging definitions of Core Competencies to guide and inform the standards we seek to achieve in professional training and practice, for psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis is a recent profession by history’s standards, emerging from the work of Sigmund Freud at the turn of the 20th century. In 1972, psychoanalysts throughout the United States undertook to organize common, independent standards for the training and practice of this new profession, through a movement that founded the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (NAAP). Motivated to define training and practice standards for this evolving profession, independently of the medical profession, practitioners representing the full theoretical range of this fledgling profession came together to establish common training requirements. This act deepened the pathway to formalize the independence of the psychoanalytic profession.

In 1997, the American Board for Accreditation in Psychoanalysis, Inc. (ABAP) was separately incorporated to establish further autonomy between the standard setting and accreditation functions, and the membership society functions, of NAAP.

For nearly two decades since then, ABAP has been fostering quality improvements in our common standards, as well as the evaluating and accrediting of diverse post-graduate psychoanalytic training programs. Our mission is to reinforce the common criteria for psychoanalytic training while respecting the uniqueness of the evolving theoretical traditions within the profession itself, over time.

Accreditation is by voluntary participation among our member institutes, who seek to engage the ongoing refinements and evolution within the training and practice standards of the profession at large. As a training candidate, accreditation signals that your institute chooses to carry the banner of good practice standards; and to the public, accreditation speaks to the integrity of the training standards by which your psychoanalyst was trained.

With over 15 years of participation with and service to ABAP, Inc., I am delighted to welcome you to explore our organization and learn more about accreditation and the wonderful, ever evolving profession of psychoanalysis.

Jennifer HarperJennifer R. Harper, MDiv, NCPsyA, LP
Chair, American Board for Accreditation in Psychoanalysis, Inc.