Course Catalog

There are five curricular components in the Doctoral program:

Clinical Practicum
Research Practicum


The goals of the Conceptual Foundations Sequence are to advance the student’s knowledge of and capacity for scholarly and critical examination of the theories that inform the psychodynamic tradition of clinical social work practice.

  • Develop and deepen student’s knowledge of seminal psychodynamic theory, including Freudian foundations, object relations, self-psychology, and relational theory in both their classic forms and contemporary elaborations.
  • Promote understanding of contemporary models of development and their fit with traditional and contemporary psychoanalytic theories of development.
  • Promote student’s abilities to creatively and productively use psychodynamic concepts and developmental concepts to inform their understanding of various clinical and socio-cultural phenomena.
  • Increase student’s capacities to reflect on conceptual knowledge as embedded within discrete historical, intellectual, and philosophical contexts and traditions.
  • Promote the development of a scholarly attitude, including intellectual curiosity and rigor, the open and critical examination of ideas, and complexity and independence of thought.

CF 611 and 612: Psychodynamic Psychology I and II: Psychodynamic Theories I and II

The evolution of psychodynamic theory beginning with its origins in the work of Freud will be explored in this year long course, with an emphasis on historical context and the cultural and clinical implications of discrete theories, revisions, and controversies. The goals for each student are: 1) To become familiar with the key theorists of the psychoanalytic tradition, the epistemological premises upon which their thinking is based, and some of the attending challenges and limitations of their thinking; 2) To understand the implications of psychodynamic theorizing for contemporary clinical practice and culture; and 3) To develop a beginning critical awareness of one’s implicit identifications with particular theoretical assumptions (which are rooted in particular sociopolitical-historical moments), and to locate one’s thinking within the broader context of theoretical history.  Prerequisite: CF 611

Sample Syllabi

CF 621 and 622: Developmental Theory I and II

This year-long course will explore past and present notions of how a person psychologically develops and what is thought to influence, facilitate and/or impede the process. Common clinical phenomena historically associated with development and for which people often present in psychotherapy will be considered and discussed from multiple theoretical perspectives in the context of both early and adult life.  Consideration will also be given to the ethnocentric, cultural bias of many of these conceptions and a review of literature reflecting alternative paths toward development will be engaged. The context of human experience will be explored at length with special attention to the influence of interpersonal relationships, gender, cultural beliefs and necessities, historical forces (i.e., economic, political, social), and the timing and outcome of key transitions, both psychological and social and their impact on one’s developmental trajectory. Contemporary developmental conceptions will be given special attention and integrated into clinical practice with special focus on the influential interaction between the particular individual and his/her particular environment. Prerequisite: CF 621

Sample Syllabi

CF 711: Psychodynamic Psychology III:   Freud

This course will examine in depth fundamental Freudian concepts which have stood the test of time. The focus will be on ideas such as unconscious phenomena, transference, repetition, free association, guilt, defense, and symptom formation. Prerequisite: CF 612

Sample Syllabi

CF 712: Psychodynamic Psychology IV: Object Relations

This course traces the object relations tradition from the work of Freud to the Kleinian movement and the British Independents, emphasizing the classic ideas within these traditions (the internal object, projective identification, schizoid phenomena, the depressive position, object usage, and countertransference theory). The class examines how mental/relational experience is structured according to projective and introjective processes, as well as how these processes are animated within, and informed by, the intrapsychic (phantasy) and relational (environmental) dimensions of emotional life. The course also presents phenomenologically related contemporary extensions of object relations theory, including discussions of its intersection and conflicts with attachment theory and cognitive neuroscience, plus introduces applied psychoanalysis. Prerequisite: CF 711

Sample Syllabi

CF 721: Psychoanalytic Social Theory

From its beginnings psychoanalysis has been about the social as much as the individual. At once a clinical method and a theory of interpretation and critique, psychoanalysis has been a key resource in what philosopher Paul Ricoeur influentially called “the hermeneutics of suspicion.” This course will explore some of the developments of psychoanalytic theory in its application to analysis of the social, the historical, and the political, with a special focus on contemporary critical and queer theory. Central to this inquiry are questions about the constructive and punitive limits of individuality, and consequent understandings of the psyche as a space specifically of political formation. The ultimate goal is to interpret critically, which is to say with heightened self-awareness, the fit of the practices of psychodynamic psychotherapy within the social and political contexts of which they form a part. Prerequisite: CF 711

Sample Syllabi

CF 811: Psychodynamic Psychology V: Self Psychology

This course provides an introduction to the ideas that form the foundation of self psychology and their evolution over the past 40 years.  Seminal papers of Kohut, his colleagues and key contemporary theorists will be critically examined within the framework of psychoanalytic thought. The course focuses on the historical development of self psychology’s central ideas, on the clinical attitudes and techniques that derive from these ideas and on their application to topics such as sexuality and trauma. Prerequisite: CF 711

Sample Syllabi

CF 812: Psychodynamic Psychology VI:  Relational Theory

This course will introduce students to the origin and concepts of relational theory and acquaint them with the representative theorists, as well as examine the usefulness of relational theory in practice and in its relationship to other psychoanalytic theories.  Interpersonal to Relational, Models of the Mind, Relational Unconscious, Dissociation, etc, will be introduced and analyzed. Prerequisite: CF 612; CF 712; CF 811

Sample Syllabi

CF 821: Psychodynamic Perspectives on Difference I:  Race, Racialization, and Social Class

This course dissects the social construction of difference, particularly as it relates to race and social class.  The class explores how these social constructions operate within ourselves, our patients, and in the broader world.  Psychoanalytic literature is used in this course to expand thinking about constructions of difference.  Specifically, psychoanalytic thinking is utilized to look at how unconscious processes are at work on societal and intrapsychic levels and how these processes promote and deter various ways of being.  This course looks at how these dynamics influence our clinical work and how they influence society at large.  Finally, this course discusses how socially constructed notions about race and social class maintain social injustices and how we, as clinical social workers, can engage and combat these dynamics.  Prerequisite: CF 721

Sample Syllabi

CF 822: Psychodynamic Perspectives on Difference II: Gender and Sexuality

This course will introduce students to critical concepts within psychoanalytic gender/sexuality theory, including Oedipus (authority, desire, identification/disidentification), submission and domination, perversion, lack, and hysteria. The class will explore and apply critical literature on gender and sexuality within a psychoanalytic perspective.  This course will also consider the primacy of gender in psychic life and ways it structures subjectivity and relationality beyond the body and conscious identity. Prerequisite: CF 721; CF 821

Sample Syllabi

CF 911: Psychodynamic Psychology VII: Capstone Theory

This course is a review of core theory taught and learned during the student’s education at ICSW in years 1-3.  Each session will be organized in a similar format: core assumptions about the human subject, core concepts, theory of suffering; theory of anxiety and theory of clinical action.  The intent, through this review, is to facilitate preparation for the Qualifying Theory Paper due the following semester.


The goals of the Clinical Sequence are to advance the student’s capacity to apply psychodynamic theories and relevant techniques to the practice of clinical social work and the diversity that it encompasses.

  • Develop a practice framework derived from a psychoanalytic model of the mind and learn to apply the resulting clinical theories and techniques to address the client’s needs as assessed by a diagnostic phase based on an accurate understanding of the client’s development, psychodynamics, current life situation and motivation.
  • Develop the capacity to maintain an attitude of inquiry in the clinical situation about one’s self, one’s client, and the psychodynamic formulations that inform one’s work.
  • Promote ability to use a psychoanalytic model o f the mind and its related clinical techniques to engage the client in a meaningful clinical process, the results of which may include symptom relief and structural change.
  • Develop knowledge of the ways in which all dimensions of diversity are present in our culture, and demonstrate the capacity to translate this understanding to the clinical situation.

CL 601 and CL 602: Case Conference I and II

The purpose of this two-semester seminar is to deepen students’ familiarity with the process of clinical conceptualization from a psychodynamic point of view. Using core concepts of transference, countertransference, therapeutic alliance, therapeutic contract, enactment, development, and motivation, among others, we will spend our year together examining the therapist’s attitude, activity, and impact on the treatment. We will look at the therapeutic encounter as it informs the psychodynamic conceptualization of the “case” and the diagnostic evaluation of the client. In the first semester, clinical material and readings will provide a basis for studying the way a case is conceptualized from a psychodynamic perspective. In the second semester, the focus will turn to constructing a psychodynamic case formulation, which includes the study of diagnoses as it applies to and informs clinical work. Prerequisites: CL 601 (for CL 602)

Sample Syllabi

CL 611: Clinical Process and Technique I: The Therapeutic Situation

Clinical Process and Technique courses explore psychotherapeutic process and technique. In this initial semester, the idea of the therapeutic will be explored in relation to historical developments, socio-cultural context, and its expression in psychodynamically informed psychotherapy. Institutional as well as individual psychotherapeutic approaches will be examined in any effort to revel common therapeutic ideas. We will also emphasize the therapeutic experience and therapeutic action and activity in relation to the therapist’s use of self by focusing on engagement, frame, transference, and countertransference.

Sample Syllabi

CL 612: Perspectives on Trauma and Neuropsychology

This course provides clinicians with a basic understanding of neuropsychology and how it affects the way in which clinicians view developmental processes, psychological disorders, and the treatment process. In addition, this course explores the impact of trauma on the neurological, emotional, physiological and relational life of a person. Trauma will be examined through the historical and contemporary lenses of neuropsychology, empirically based developmental literature and psychodynamic theory. In addition, the course will focus on the effects of trauma on the regulatory system and the transference and countertransference dynamics as they occur in the treatment process. The course builds on the student’s studies on development and clinical conceptualization. We will use student cases to demonstrate the ideas introduced in this course. Prerequisites: CF 611, CF 612, CF 621, CF 622

CL 701 and 702: Case Conference III and IV

This continuation of ICSW’s case conference series expands clinical skills and fosters the development of psychodynamic thinking.  Emphasis is on the therapists’ self-awareness as the primary tool for conducting a psychodynamic assessment and engaging in psychotherapy. Using core concepts of transference, countertransference, projective identification, and various other defenses, we will attempt to understand the dynamics of the patient and therapist as they work together.  These theoretical concepts will aide in our theoretical formulations and treatment process. Prerequisites: CL 602; CF 612; CF 622; CL 611; CL 612

Sample Syllabi

CL 711: Clinical Process and Technique II: Therapeutic Attitude

This course focuses on the therapist’s motivations, assumptions, personal characteristics, and attitudes as these inform both the clinical dialogue and the quality of the therapeutic relationship. Using clinical theory in combination with personal and therapeutic experience, the course explores the fundamentals of clinical listening and understanding, as well as what is personally required by the psychotherapist for facilitating an optimal therapeutic process. Requirements: Students must have active, ongoing psychotherapy cases. Prerequisites: CL 611; CL 702; CF 612

Sample Syllabi

CL 712:  Perspectives on Attachment, Loss and Grief

Attachment and loss are intrinsic to the human condition. This course explores many dimensions of attachment and loss, particularly as encountered in clinical practice. The historical writings are examined, together with contemporary works. The course looks at the complexity of loss and grief, including their relationship to trauma and attachment issues. The course also examines theories and research on psychodynamic psychotherapy, neurobiology and emotional regulation.  The treatment of loss, grief and attachment issues often involves the processing of intense emotions that impact the therapist and client. People may respond to loss with growth in character, spirituality and morally. People may also respond to loss with compulsive reenactments of painful feelings, such as addictive behaviors or self-harm in an effort to relieve otherwise unbearable states of mind. We will consider the idea that some loss, grief and suffering is intrinsic and cannot be relieved. Prerequisites: CL 612; CF 611; CF 612; CF 621; CF 622

Sample Syllabi

CL 721: Beyond the Fifty Minute Hour: Psychoanalytic Social Work in the Community

This course will focus on psychoanalytically-informed social work interventions with diverse populations outside of the conventional psychotherapy parameters.  These practice settings include, among others, child welfare, clinical case management, home visiting, hospices and medical facilities, forensic settings and school social work and the populations served include the homeless, persons with severe psychiatric disorders, abused and neglected children, troubled adolescents and the elderly.  With such interventions, environmental and psychological interventions are interwoven and require a creative synthesis of psychodynamic and systems perspectives.  Whether these interventions are therapeutic or palliative, understanding defenses, object relations, transference and countertransference are essential components of effective intervention.   Prerequisites: CL 612; CF 622; CF 602; CF 611

Sample Syllabi

CL 801 and 802: Case Conference V and VI

This continuation of ICSW’s case conference series expands clinical skills and fosters the development of psychodynamic thinking.  Emphasis is on the therapists’ self-awareness as the primary tool for conducting a psychodynamic assessment and engaging in psychotherapy. Using core concepts of transference, countertransference, projective identification, and various other defenses, we will attempt to understand the dynamics of the patient and therapist as they work together.  These theoretical concepts will aide in our theoretical formulations and treatment process. Prerequisites: CL 602; CF 612; CF 622; CL 611; CL 612

Sample Syllabi

CL 811: Clinical Process and Technique III – The Therapist’s Subjectivity

This case conference will focus specifically on the personal subjectivity of the therapist.  The course will explore the psychotherapist’s internal world and life experience through self analysis as these inform clinical process and the therapist’s participation, while deepening the student’s reflectivity and self-awareness within the therapeutic interaction. Prerequisites: CL 611; CL 702; CL 711; CL 712; CF 712

Sample Syllabi

CL 813: Clinical Process and Technique IV: The Clinical Unconscious

The idea of the unconscious is perhaps the most basic psychoanalytic concept, from both a theory and everyday practice standpoint. The meaning of “unconscious,” initially referring to repressed ideas and fantasy, has broadened considerably since Freud’s time, to include a wide variety of phenomena. The course, “The Clinical Unconscious,” will emphasize how we deal clinically with the repressed unconscious and the various other modes of nonconscious psychic phenomena. Relevant concepts such as unconscious communication, transference, countertransference, the logic of dreams, evenly hovering attention, and the nature of the therapeutic interaction, will take center stage.  Prerequisites: CL 803; CL 811; CL 801; CF 711

Sample Syllabi


The goals of the Clinical Practicum are to provide students with an opportunity to explore their own cases in real depth, and over time, with their instructors as experts and individual consultants so that the course work and clinical consultation intersect for the student’s benefit as a clinician.

  • Promote students’ understanding of psychodynamic clinical social work practice.
  • Develop students’ abilities to evaluate clients in a psychodynamic framework.
  • Develop students’ abilities to conduct psychodynamically based clinical practice.
  • Develop students’ ability to articulate their psychodynamic clinical understanding orally and in writing.
  • Promote the integration of the ICSW Core Clinical Concepts into students’ clinical practice, thinking and writing.
  • Develop the ability to describe clearly the client and the process of therapy both verbally and in writing.

CP I – CP V: Clinical Practicum I, II, III, IV, V

This course will be an advisory consultation meeting with an ICSW Faculty member every other week. It is intended to enhance students’ competence in thinking about and doing psychodynamic work. The practicum provides an experience-near learning context which allows concepts and ideas learned in the classroom setting to come alive, with the help of Faculty consultants.


The goals of the Research Sequence are to develop the student’s capacity to rigorously and ethically conceptualize and critically examine problems/issues relevant to clinical social work, and to conduct and defend an original project of scholarly research.

  • Develop knowledge of epistemology, or the philosophy of knowledge, as it shapes human inquiry and its various interpretive perspectives.
  • Develop ability to create a research question, and to evaluate its location within a broader epistemological context.
  • Understand the role of ethics and embedded values in conducting social work research.
  • Develop differential knowledge of qualitative, quantitative, and integrative approaches to research problems, and uses and analyses of data.
  • Develop a thoughtful analysis of data and discuss the embeddedness of that analysis within the traditions of a particular discourse of social explanation.
  • Understand the rationale, limitations, utilization, and interpretation of selected techniques of social research.

RM 601and 602 Traditions of Inquiry in the Social Sciences I and II

This year long course is an introduction to epistemological concepts and systems in psychology and social work theories. Epistemology is the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. The logic and rationale of different methodological approaches to developing knowledge, and critiques of the underlying epistemological assumptions are described in the readings and will be discussed in class. Prerequisite for RM 602: RM 601

Sample Syllabi

RM 701 and 702: Research Methods I and II

This one year course covers basic social science methodologies and research processes.  The major aims of this course are to expand and deepen knowledge of qualitative and quantitative modes of research inquiry.  In the first year of the course students use data shared as a group in the application of various qualitative methods.  Prerequisite: Rm 602; All Research Methods courses must be taken in sequence

Sample Syllabi

RM 801 and 802: Research Methods III and IV

In the second year students will participate in the collection of data and its analysis via the application of both qualitative and quantitative methods, Students will, throughout the course, focus on conducting ethical research, as well as understanding the epistemological embeddedness of all social science methodologies.  Prerequisite:  All Research Methods courses must be taken in sequence

Sample Syllabi

RM 903: Dissertation Seminar

This two-semester seminar takes students through the process of refining a dissertation topic into a researchable question or hypothesis, supporting it through literature, and selecting an appropriate research design and method of data analysis in order to write a dissertation proposal. The course utilizes a group format for students to vet, get feedback from colleagues and to refine their research ideas. Prerequisites: RM 802

Sample Syllabi


The goals of the Research Practicum are to develop and successfully defend a scholarly, original, rigorous, comprehensive, and ethical dissertation that will contribute to clinical social work knowledge and practice.

  • Develop a meaningful research question with the ability to critically examine the issue within an epistemological frame.
  • Develop a rigorous methodology consistent with the research question, and locate the chosen methodology within an epistemological framework.
  • Develop use of media and library resources for shaping research project.
  • Develop research skills and techniques, including:  problem formulation, research design, interviewing, data analysis, and writing in APA format.
  • Identify the context of the research question methodology in the corpus of relevant clinical research literature.
  • Develop a rigorous, comprehensive, ethical, dissertation proposal that will contribute to clinical social work knowledge.
  • Write, present, and defend a scholarly dissertation.

ESRM 800: Advanced Research Seminar

This seminar is a required elective for all advanced students. The seminar meets in a monthly format throughout the year, and functions as a group consultation on the research process. Students will present their evolving data analysis to the seminar participants and leader.  For students matriculating in 2014 and beyond:  The seminar is required by all qualifying advanced candidates until the completion of the dissertation, and will operate in two segments (proposal and data analysis), depending on where the student is in their research. Prerequisites: all courses, Case Presentation, Qualifying Theory Examination (for students matriculating 2014 and beyond)


Revised February 06, 2018