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The Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society was founded as a voluntary organisation in 1988. The Association has had charitable status from its early years, and acts on a non-profit basis.

The fundamental aim of the Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society is to improve the mental health and well-being of the citizens of Northern Ireland through the advancement and diffusion of the psychoanalytic perspective on the mind by education, clinical training, clinical consultancy and academic research to the highest international standards.


What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?

At the Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society we are fully aware of the possible confusion that can exist in peoples minds about the differing forms of treatment available for mental health problems be they drug therapy or talking therapy, or indeed the difference between practicing professionals in this field be they psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists or psychoanalysts.

 As a result our Association feels it is essential to provide the very best up to date information to those persons thinking of seeking psychoanalytic based forms of treatment.

To this end we can do no better than refer you to the excellent material on this issue at the British Psychoanalytic Council website that deals with this important question. You can follow the link here.

In particular we would draw your attention to Jane Milton’s very good overview of the question in her booklet ‘Making Sense of  Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis’ at the bottom of BPC web page which is available as a pdf file here.


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Towards the mid-1980s a group of psychiatrists, psychologists and others decided to meet under the guidance of Dr Thomas Freeman to study both psychoanalytic writings and practice with a view to deepening their own understanding of this fascinating theory of the human mind. Thomas Freeman was then the only psychoanalyst in Northern Ireland. Because of his expertise in this area he was ideally placed to assist this nascent group.

Freeman’s major focus of expertise was in the psychoses, particularly on the psychoanalytic understanding of these dreadful conditions. He had published widely in this area and during his time as a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Hampstead Clinic (now the Anna Freud Centre) he developed the psychological profile then used with children and adults for application to those persons suffering from psychotic illness.

In 1988 the group decided to form a formal association named  The Northern Ireland Association for the Study of Psychoanalysis. A constitution was drafted, and officers appointed and the group met on one Tuesday evening and one Saturday each month during term time.  Such were the beginnings of the Association we are today.