This month I'll focus on the personal interviews in my series on the process of applying for analytic training. The personal interviews in the admissions process focused on me — material about my internal and personal life — and required me to be self reflective, revealing intimate details about my history. In contrast, the clinical interviews called for me to present my work as a psychoanalytic therapist, showing my thinking about this work and demonstrating how I might make use of a consultative other. 

What struck me most was having to be completely transparent, honest, non-defensive and revealing — much like how one might be in one's own analysis — in the context of being judged and evaluated. I found this very disturbing but extremely profound. There was little in the external interaction that I could rely on to foster a sense of comfort or encouragement, yet continual self-disclosure was required. So it forced me to encounter my own deep reliance on my convictions about what I think of as analytic truths: the importance of self reflection and of facing pain and painful truths. As jarring and disturbing as the interviews were, encountering the internalized objects, relationships and guiding principles that they required was actually quite strengthening.

The process made me reflect on the role of personal material in a professional interview process. We are in a very unique profession in this day and age where legal action around employment is commonplace and where whole human resources departments are set up to handle personal and psychological matters in a proscribed and structured manner. How strange it is to have personal details about oneself have real bearing in an interview process! Of course this makes sense to most of us in this field both because the work that we do so much involves the use of our selves and because we are all invested in safeguarding our profession, patients and training institutions from individuals who would be harmful. Most of us agree on the need for some assessment of personality factors in doing this very intensive and sensitive work. I believe it is an ongoing question how these factors would be best assessed.

Beth Steinberg, Ph.D.
President, NCSPP