The European Federation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (EFPP)  

Siv Boalt Boëthius, Ph.D. Professor, Chair of the EFPP (2006)

The European Federation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (EFPP) was inaugurated in 1991 at the time when the European Union was developing further the freedom of movement of individuals between member countries. It was initiated by the UK and was founded by the British psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Brian Martindale in collaboration with colleagues from the UK and other countries in Europe.

The overall aim of the EFPP has from the start been to contribute significantly to the wellbeing of mental health among people living in Europe and to facilitate communication between psychoanalytic psychotherapists in different parts of Europe. The EFPP is concerned with extending the availability of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and its applications in member countries, and is especially concerned with psychoanalytic psychotherapy within mental and physical health and related public services.

The EFPP promotes a European community network of psychoanalytic psychotherapists through activities such as annual EFPP Conferences, the publication of the EFPP Book Series, through support of training programmes and research, by taking up issues with regard to e.g. ethical dilemmas within the field, and through the EFPP Website. The editors for the EFPP Book Series are Monica Lanyado (UK) and Didier Houzel (France).

The EFPP supports its member networks in discussing or setting national training standards for psychoanalytic psychotherapists. The EFPP's training standards are agreed upon as the benchmark for national networks. The general principle is that the EFPP is an inclusive organisation, and an important task is how to support the training in the member countries who ask for assistance.

During the first years of the EFPP the focus was mainly on the type of training needed in order to work effectively as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. The discussion about criteria for training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy was an important political discussion, which engaged individual clinicians as well as training institutes in many countries. Through these discussions several countries developed their training programmes and national networks. The international network was important and the communications between colleagues at the EFPP conferences was and still is essential for development.


Membership in the EFPP is open to all European countries. Exceptionally a country situated outside the European borders may be accepted if its application for membership has been accepted by the Executive Committee and is ratified by a 2/3 majority of the voting delegates at a General Meeting.

EFPP consists of three sections working with psychoanalytic psychotherapy for: Adults, Children and Adolescents, and Groups. A fourth section for Psychoanalytic Couple and Familiy Psychotherapy (PCFP) is being developed and will hopefully become part of the EFPP in the near future.

For the time being 22 countries in Europe are members of the EFPP. The majority are full members, four are associate members and two are observers. The membership in the EFPP is built on national networks, which means that that there are no individual members. You can only be part of the EFPP if you belong to a national network that is connected to one of the sections. Each country with full membership can have at most two delegates representing each of the three sections. The delegates will be appointed by the organisation or network of organisations from the member countries, which appear to the Executive Committee to represent the section of the profession in the country concerned.

According to the constitution of the EFPP, the Executive Committee consists currently of three delegates from each section. An administrative secretary and a financial administrator are also part of the work of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee can co-opt members to take part in the work for specific reasons. This implies for instance that the person who represents the fourth section, PCFP, has been a co-opted member since 2005. Before that one person with responsibility for developing guidelines for research within the EFPP was co-opted also for four years.

All the members of the Executive Committee, as well as the chairperson, are elected by the General Meeting for all delegates, which assembles every two years. The election period for the members of the executive is four years and nobody can be elected for more than two (consecutive) mandate periods, i.e. eight years.

The first chairperson of the EFPP was Brian Martindale, who chaired the EFPP for six years, from 1991-1997. Among the founding members was Serge Frisch, a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist from Luxembourg. When Brian Martindale left, Serge Frisch was elected as chair and he held the position as chair also for six years, from 1997 to 2003 when the present chair, Siv Boalt Boëthius, a psychoanalyst and psychologist from Sweden, was elected.


In short, the overall principle for the work of the Executive Committee is to keep in contact with the development of psychotherapeutic work in the member countries, with special regard to conditions for work with patients, facilities for training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and research. It is evident that this is not an easy task. Europe is growing and with the ten new EU member countries, the balance seems to have shifted towards the eastern parts of Europe compared to previously. There are for instance clear differences between countries regarding e.g. political systems and attitudes towards psychotherapy in general, and in its different forms which vary from country to country.

Right from the beginning, one main area of the work has been to discuss and exchange experiences from the various types of training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy that is offered in different countries in Europe. A major task that has taken time to discuss and work out has been to agree on levels of standards of training that are desirable and functional. Over the years the three sections have continued to work with their standards of training in order to develop a Certificate, which can be used by the training institutes belonging to the national networks. So far, the Section for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy and the Section for Psychoanalytic Group Psychotherapy has agreed on their Certificates.

Another main area of work is connected to the EFPP conferences. During the first years each section had an annual conference and a three-section confererence was arranged every third or fourth year. However, it gradually became clear that this was too many, and it was decided that the sections should arrange their section conference in turn. Following this a Group Section conference was held in Lisbon in 2004, an Adult section conference in Dresden in 2005, and a Child and Adolescent Section conference in Berlin in 2006. A three-section conference will be arranged in Copenhagen in 2007. Each conference has a local organising committee appointed, which works closely together with the conference co-ordinator in the Executive Committee.

A special feature in the EFPP conferences is the discussion groups after each plenary session and these groups, which stay the same for the whole conference, are much appreciated. They contribute to increase the learning as well as to enhance the contact between the participants. The conferences also have a number of ongoing workshops on e.g Infant Observations, Trauma and State Violence, Research, Training and Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Psychotherapy. A new form of ongoing workshop was introduced in Dresden and followed up in Berlin. It was a peer-review session in collaboration with the editorial Board of The International Journal of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Roberto Basile, a psychoanalyst from Italy, led a review discussion about an unpublished paper the participants had received before the conference.

Besides these section conferences there are the Francophone conferences. The two latest ones took place in December 2005 in Metz in France and in Ibiza in Spain during 2006. These conferences are important as they are attractive for the French-speaking parts of Europe and they usually have a large attendance. The EFPP also arranges smaller workshops focusing on for instance Infant Observations and Confidentiality. Another example is the Syros workshop, which focuses on clinical presentations and has been arranged every two years for about ten years.

In order to support the resurgence of interest in psychoanalytic ideas and therapies in Eastern and Central European countries, EFPP has also arranged conferences in these countries. Individual persons in the EFPP have been quite active in developing long-term training programmes in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The first Eastern and Central European Conference took place in Prague, the next in Riga and the third and last one was in Tallin in 2005. At the Tallin conference it became clear that there was no longer the same need for these separate conferences. So it was decided to dissolve the special committee responsible for the EFPP conferences in Eastern and Central Europe. Training programmes that had started had worked out well and many of the former students were more interested in attending the regular EFPP conferences than to take part in the specific E/C conferences. However, the support from the EFPP through e.g. seminars and supervision in specific countries has continued. For example two members of the executive committee were invited to contribute to the training in Kiev in Ukraine last year, and another member went as supervisor to Bulgaria this year etc.

As mentioned above, one of the aims of the EFPP is to develop a good network with other organisations working with psychotherapy, but so far contacts have mainly been in relation to psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. EFPP has a number of allied organisations working with mainly psychoanalytic psychotherapy and their conferences etc. are announced on our website. Persons representing organisations such as IPA, interesting research groups, or work as politicians etc, have also been invited to the General Meetings. These contacts have been very fruitful. Two examples are the peer-reviewed sessions mentioned above and a meeting with the co-editor for IJP, Professor Paul Williams, who works in Ireland and the UK, which is described below.


An area where much remains to be done is in relation to research, based on modern psychoanalytic theory. The kind of research that would be possible to develop further is primarily clinically based research, where the clinicians themselves can contribute in a more integrated way by systematic documentation of their own clinical work. This type of research has to be done in co-operation with someone else with relevant experience and it has to have the support of the clinical centre.

How to continue developing the publication of the EFPP Book Series is another area the Executive Committee and the editors of EFPP Book Series are discussing. We need good publications, and this is continually developing.

We are also about to develop different types of summer schools focusing on e.g. supervision of psychotherapeutic work and other ways of supporting psychotherapeutic work in the Eastern and Central European countries

In order to widen the network of the EFPP and to get to know people working with psychoanalytic psychotherapy in their own surroundings the Executive Meetings twice a year offer a good opportunity. The Executive Committee meeting in Dublin in May this year is a good example of this. In connection with the meeting, a public lecture with Paul Williams had been arranged. He is a wellknown psychoanalyst and co-editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. Apart from many opportunities for making contacts and enjoying an excellent presentation, we also learned that University of Ulster together with Paul Williams is developing a Masters Programme in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, which is based on the internet. We think it would be a great advantage for the EFPP to spread information about this programme and to encourage people in different countries to take part.


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last modified: 2008-03-05