Receiving the decision of not passing can be a deep disappointment, particularly when you have invested a great deal of time and effort into preparing for the examination. While unwelcome, the decision may offer an opportunity to discover and reflect on aspects of your psychoanalytic work not previously considered. Ideally, it can prompt a period of learning and growth. Many applicants returning after not passing a first examination have described that the experience contributed to a process of new development, promoting a deeper level of understanding and growth as a psychoanalyst.
Applicants not passing the examination will receive a detailed letter from the Examination Committee Chair within 10 weeks that outlines the area(s) that led the committee to the determination you did not pass. In order to meet national standards for certifying organizations, ABPsa no longer offers direct exam mentoring. However, there are a number of avenues available to help address the issues raised in your letter and prepare for a new examination.
Many have found that starting by discussing the findings from the examination committee with trusted supervisors or mentors has allowed for fresh thinking about the clinical work. This can apply to issues regarding your case write-ups and/or your clinical process material.
Some applicants prefer to engage with new senior analysts to allow for new thinking about the clinical work. Often it can be helpful if these individuals are outside of one’s own institute. Some applicants get suggestions for names of senior analysts outside their institute by asking a supervisor or mentor for potential names, or by inquiring at national psychoanalytic meetings.
Some applicants form peer discussion groups to present writing and clinical process to one another, for peer feedback. Applicants can reach out to colleagues locally or nationally, and many find national or international psychoanalytic meetings to be another forum for meeting colleagues who are also preparing for certification or professional promotion.
There are also a number of case writing discussion groups and/or clinical process groups at national psychoanalytic meetings such as the American Psychoanalytic Association meetings or the IPA where the writing process or clinical material is presented and discussed. Many find these discussion groups to be another useful forum for learning.