4 year Attachment Based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (ABPP)

The outcome of this course is to become a United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) registered attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

This is an engaging, stimulating, robust and thought provoking clinical training course, which takes place at the weekends (every other week for 18 weekends) during term times, and is truly impressive in its breadth, scope, and depth, providing an opportunity to engage deeply with past and contemporary thinking in the field of psychotherapy and the social sciences as well as with contemporary and past shared clinical experience. It will provide you with the knowledge and skills to become registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

During the taught part of the course, you will engage with a wide range of fascinating theoretical material; undertake an 18 month Infant Observation, be involved in experiential group work, undertake presentations, be involved in group discussions, and start clinical work.

You will also have much opportunity to engage with your fellow trainee therapists with all their unique differences, with the course broadening your perspective on others and life in stimulating ways. Most importantly you will be engaging with others, both experienced practitioners, and those less experienced amongst your peers, all of whom will be alongside you in your personal development as you take this important journey towards developing clinically professionalism, competence and expertise. By the end of the course you will be surprised at how far you have come and how secure you now feel in your new therapist self with a solid understanding of preoccupied, avoidant, fearful avoidant and avoidant dismissive attachment patterns and find yourself able to work with transference, counter transference, the unconscious, dissociation, trauma, the body and an individual’s protective strategies.

Application Deadline: 30th June 2024 – Apply Here


Four Academic Years

Start Date:

September 2024


Mixed Online / In-Person

Course Fee: 


Who is the course aimed at?

All applicants must:
• Have undertaken at least one year of weekly psychotherapy with a psychodynamic or psychoanalytic psychotherapist
• Be prepared to study at a postgraduate level
• Be in twice weekly therapy with an attachment based psychoanalytic psychotherapist or a therapist registered with the British Psychoanalytical council (BPC) for a minimum of one year at the start of the training
• Have two references one professional and one personal indicating your suitability for training
• Be prepared to undertake a part-time six month mental health familiarisation placement (if required) prior to registration

What are the dates of the course? 2024-2025

2024 Autumn Term 1

  • • September 20th and 21st
    • October 4th and 5th
    • *October 19th and 20th
    • November 8th and 9th
    • November 22nd and 23rd
    • December 6th and 7th

2025 Spring Term 2 

  • • January 17th and 18th
    • January 31st and February 1st
    • *February 15th and 16th
    • February 28th and March 1st
    • March 14th and 15th
    • March 28th and 29th

2025 Summer Term 3 

  • • May 9th and 10th
    • May 23rd and 24th
    • June 6th and 7th
    • *June 21st and 22nd
    • July 4th and 5th
    • July 18th and 19th

*Three weekends will be experiential group: October 19th and 20th, February 15th and 16th, June 21st and 22nd. These are held on Saturdays and Sundays. There will be no Friday teaching on these weekends.  

This is a Four Academic Year Course delivered on Fridays and Saturdays with three Sundays, one per term, in Year 1 only. Please look at the term dates for more detail.

Friday: 2:00pm – 5.15pm
Saturdays 10:00 am – 5.15pm
Experiential Weekends: Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 4:00pm

Applicants will usually have two interviews and sometimes three. The interviews will be with a senior member of the Bowlby Centre usually from the Clinical Training Committee (CTC). The interviewer will explore each candidate’s readiness to train with The Bowlby Centre.

The interview fee is £100.

All applicants must:
• Have undertaken at least one year of weekly psychotherapy with a psychodynamic or psychoanalytic psychotherapist
• Be prepared to study at a postgraduate level
• Be in twice weekly therapy for the first year of the course, with an attachment based psychoanalytic psychotherapist or a therapist registered with the British Psychanalytical Council (BPC).
• Be prepared to undertake a part-time six month mental health familiarisation placement (if required) prior to registering.

Each teacher will give you written feedback
You will have one to one termly tutorials with your course tutor
Your supervisor will write an annual feedback on your progress
In years 1 and 2 you will have a minimum of one attachment essay to write (there is no grading of this essay)
You are required to write an Infant Observation paper
You are required to write a mental health familiarisation paper
In Year 2 you will be required to produce a portfolio to assess your readiness to begin clinical work. This will include two interviews with two different senior Bowlby members.
You are required to produce a portfolio for registration
You will be asked to present in seminars

  • To attend consistently and on time.
  • To maintain respect for and confidentiality of other participants contributions.
  • To operate within the values and policies and procedures of The Bowlby Centre.
  • To complete any pre-course reading or other preparation such as watching a webinar or listening to a podcast.
  • To achieve 80% attendance in each seminar to complete the course.

There are no f ormal exams. Students prepare presentations for seminar and complete written work.

Year one there is a requirement to be in personal therapy twice a week.

For the following years up to registration there is a requirement to be in therapy a minimum of once weekly.

  • The successful completion of the taught part of the course.
  • Meeting requirements for client work.
  • Completing a registration portfolio
  • It is recommended that all students wait for a minimal period of six months post taught before applying for registration.

You are required to work with;

    • One client for 18 months twice a week
    • One client for 18 months once a week
    • Five clients for a minimum of six months once a weekends

You will be required to have a training supervisor. They will supervise your clinical work. You are currently required to have one supervisory hour for every six client hours.

Structure of the 4 year Attachment Based Psychanalytic Psychotherapy Clinical Training Course

The formal training and teaching lasts four years, is part-time and divided into two halves – the first two years being pre-Clinical and the last two years being clinical in focus. This means there is no client work until Year 3. These are the main strands:
1. Theoretical Seminars
2. Attachment Seminars
3. Infant Observation
4. Clinical Seminars
5. Personal and Professional development
6. Group work

The aim of these seminars is to help students gain a strong theoretical understanding from an historical perspective as well as current theory and practice. This seminar begins in the first term and continues throughout the training. The seminars cover psychoanalytic theory from Freud onwards and all the latest developments of trauma theory including neuroscience.

The aim of these seminars is to ground the training in attachment theory to enable students to gain a clear understanding of the attachment-based approach to clinical work. With theory in the pre-clinical part of the training and application of the theory in the clinical section of the training, these seminars will aim to embed the approach both implicitly and explicitly.

These seminars follow the development of attachment in the first two years of life. The aim of the Infant Observation seminars is to facilitate the development of a capacity for observation necessary for psychotherapeutic work and to gain an understanding of infant development with particular emphasis on the centrality of attachment to the development of a healthy sense of self. The observation itself continues for the first 18 months of the infant’s life.

These are a place for learning to present clinical work to peers and for the teacher to facilitate learning from the material presented. In addition to your clinical work with training clients you may use the opportunity to apply what you are learning to your current work as well as to your life prior to starting clinical work for the course. These start in Year 3.

The purpose of the Personal and Professional Development Seminars is to give students the opportunity to explore and integrate the values of The Centre and to prepare for work as an Attachment–based Psychotherapist. It is an opportunity to get to know each other better and to develop your understanding of intersectionality, power, privilege, difference and diversity. You will be given opportunities to begin developing a variety of professional skills that will be needed in the profession which you are joining, including setting up a private practice, practical themes, and the therapeutic techniques, problems and decisions that arise in clinical practice.

The aim of the experiential groups is to give each year group the opportunity to explore unconscious inner material with peers and to deepen your understanding of yourself on a more personal level. The extent to which we are self-aware has a deep impact on how well we attune to and understand our clients and this groupwork provides a space to deepen your knowledge of yourself.

The Course Year by Year

The outcome of this course is to become a United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) registered attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist


• To provide a sound preparation for clinical practice as an Attachment-based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist-in-Training
• To explore the origins of attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy and its integration with contemporary developments in psychoanalysis
• To provide a secure introductory foundation and framework on which to build further layers of theory at greater depth and complexity
• To explore the links between theory and clinical practice
• To begin to prepare for working with uncertainty and the unknown, and to be able to hold the anxiety and tensions that are inevitable in clinical practice
• To develop an awareness of the complexity of working with difference not only reflected in our work with individuals but also in groups, organisations and society
• To develop a personal awareness of how patterns of care seeking and caregiving are impacted on by both secure and insecure patterns of attachment


At this stage you would have completed or nearly completed your infant observation and you are now ready to start your client work with the support of your training supervisor. You will have clinical seminars which explicitly address clinical work.

You will be required to take on two Blues clients or Blues equivalent clients if you are from outside London. Our Blues project is for people who are aged 18 years or over and who would not otherwise have access to psychotherapy because they are on benefits or a low income.

To consolidate and further the understanding of theory and its application to clinical practice with a focus on the impact of trauma

  • To develop the skills and techniques needed in the clinical situation
  • To learn from and communicate about clinical experience
  • To develop increased confidence in the ability to work with the unknown and to hold anxiety and tensions
  • To deepen an understanding of working with race, sexualities, social class, gender and gender diversities, age, different relationship patterns, and disabilities
  • To explore relationships with peers in more depth
  • To encourage students to plan for their own professional development and communication with the wider psychotherapeutic community

In view of the important role that personal therapy plays in your development and training as a psychotherapist, we would usually expect you to have been in personal therapy for a minimum of one year with an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist or a psychotherapist who works from a psychodynamic perspective prior to starting the course. Ideally, this would be the year prior to and during your application to the training course, so that you have an established therapeutic relationship in place to support you through the process of application and the demands of beginning the training. Therapy continues at least until registration. Students must undertake a minimum personal therapy of:

  • Twice a week in Year One
  • Once a week from Years Two, Three and Four
  • Once a week for Post-taught students

We may advise a student to increase their personal therapy if the Clinical Training Committee (CTC) believes the student may need additional therapy to progress to the next part of their training. All ABPP students and trainees are strongly encouraged to stay in twice weekly where possible and to do more than the minimum required.

During the third year of the training, trainees will start client work and will have selected a supervisor whom they will enjoy working with. They will also need to have experience of supervision with at least one other supervisor during the training period in order to formulate a way of working within professional parameters. The supervision continues once weekly until registration. There is a requirement for one supervisory hour per six client hours of work.

Our approach to learning is based on insights from developments in adult education as well as attachment theory and psychoanalysis. We believe that adults learn best in a context in which they can be creative. Students need a secure base from which to explore and take risks. The organisation aims to provide an enabling and supportive environment, in which students can feel free to develop their own style of learning and presenting work – an environment which is both supportive and challenging.

Each student writes their own reflection on their development and learning which builds into part of their evidence for readiness for moving into their own clinical work.

We are conscious that students have different learning styles and aim to provide variety in our teaching styles to accommodate this difference within our taught programme.

During our taught course you will engage with a wide range of interesting, carefully selected theoretical material; undertake an 18 month Infant Observation and have the opportunity to prepare for, and discuss this in seminars;

Trainees usually take at least a further year to complete their portfolio for registration. The fee for any further, non-taught, year is substantially lower than that for the taught part of the training. Your course tutor will continue to support you during the non-taught part of your progress towards registration.

We are moving our teaching to weekend teaching with our aim that all student cohorts from intake 2024 onwards are taught on the same weekends to enhance the student body experience and offer greater opportunities to meet and socialise during breaks.

There is currently a requirement from the CPJA that all trainees undertake a part-time placement which enables them to gain experience of the field of mental health. If you have had previous or current experience in the field of mental health, for example you are working in a mental health setting you can apply for an exemption. The placement is expected to be part-time no less than 6 months at half a day a week.

Throughout the course and up until registration you can write your mental health familiarisation paper which covers certain criteria. Alongside the personal research and experience of a placement and clinical work we will aim to provide additional seminars/workshops covering some of the topics required for mental health familiarisation.

Throughout the course you will be exposed to papers which cite research findings. To ensure that you are able to critically evaluate the value of the research we will either provide an additional workshop in research methodology, or incorporate this in the curriculum. This aims not only to help you be a critical reader of research but also start to give you the skills to write your own papers, and undertake primary research.