What is APPWA?

The Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Western Australia (APPWA) is a multi-disciplinary body of psychotherapists with advanced training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Membership criteria and application forms are available for download for both Clinical and Associate Membership.

APPWA seeks to promote and support the highest possible standards of clinical practice, training, and ethics in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in Western Australia and, to this end, provides continuing education and supervision for practicing psychotherapists, a forum for clinical discussion, and training in the practice of psychotherapy. Our constitution can be found here.

The association is affiliated with the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia (PPAA), a national body that oversees the standards and conduct of, as well as training in, psychoanalytic psychotherapy in Australasia. PPAA is, in turn, a member of the Australasian Confederation of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies (ACPP) along with other psychoanalytic professional groups.

In 1983, a small group of interested professionals began a study group in psychoanalytic self-psychology. This group of founding members joined the formal training offered by Westmead Hospital in New South Wales, and established APPWA in 1984.

In the years since its inception, APPWA has grown to become the leading psychoanalytic organisation in Western Australia, offering intensive training and learning opportunities, and hosting national and international experts and national conferences for the PPAA.

On multiple occasions, APPWA members have held the role of Executive of the PPAA.


Members of APPWA are highly trained specialists in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy as a form of psychological treatment. Here we offer a brief introduction to this kind of work. More than a century ago Sigmund Freud developed his theory of the mind and of psychological treatment for disorders of the mind. There have been many developments based on his theories as clinicians build on his theory in the light of their own clinical findings.

There are two especially important contributions made by Freud. His understanding and investigation of the unconscious mind has underpinned all later developments of his theory. At the heart of all contemporary approaches to psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy we find exploration of the role, operation and contents of the unconscious mind. In order to understand how we function as human beings and how our understanding of the world has been shaped we need to investigate what goes on in he unconscious.

A second important contribution which follows from this is Freud’s emphasis on the dyad of psychotherapist and patient. It is within this relationship, in a carefully created setting, that it becomes possible for the patient to explore his or her mind and inner world. This dyadic relationship is designed to allow the discovery and exploration of the powerful dynamic influences that affect how one is as a person and how one relates to others.

This approach emphasises the important formative influence in our lives of significant relationships from early infancy to the present day. Recent research in neuroscience, infant development and attachment theory has made an important contribution both to the theory and practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

This approach can help many people: children, adolescents and adults with problems in living, learning, working, relating can all benefit from it. Such difficulties usually emerge in forms such as depression, anxiety, general unhappiness, breakdown in relationships, difficulties with sexuality and intimacy and personal crises. Some people struggle with patterns of thinking feeling and behaving which are maladaptive and in which they feel stuck. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy may help these people and also may help people experiencing more serious disturbances.

Treatment usually involves regular and ongoing sessions. These would usually be at least once a week for fifty minutes. Sometimes more frequent sessions are more appropriate and helpful. Because this form of treatment is about helping the patient to understand his or her own mind and because this is very complex the treatment is usually a fairly lengthy one. A lifetime of acquired patterns may take some time to understand and change.

In addition to long term treatments many APPWA members will, where appropriate, offer brief psychotherapy based on psychoanalytic theory. Some APPWA members work with adults, some with couples; others work with children and adolescents and their families. What they have in common is an interest in the unconscious and in the therapeutic relationship as a powerful influence on healing.

Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Western Australia


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