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What is Self Psychology?

Self Psychology is a form of psychodynamic psychotherapy that posits that an individual’s self-cohesion, self-esteem, and vitality derive from and are maintained by the attuned responsiveness of others to his/her needs.  Based on a modern psychoanalytic theory conceived by Heinz Kohut in Chicago in the 1960’s through 1980’s, it continues to grow and develop nurtured by the vibrant input from theorists and practitioners working around the world.

How is it different for the therapist and the client?

In self psychology, the therapist makes the effort to understand the client from within the client’s own subjective experience and viewpoint.  The self forms the central focus of this theory, and is understood as the vital, cohesive, feeling of ongoingness, agency, and self-worth.  Through appropriate and attuned responsiveness, the therapist promotes the growth of critical aspects of the self. These aspects support the client’s ambitions and ideas, give expression to their talents and skills, and aid healthy relationships to be sustained.

Self psychology is a developmental psychology which derives much of its understanding of the developing psyche from contemporary infant research and neuroscience. In self psychology presenting issues or symptoms are understood to represent the effects of lifespan experiences which either fostered or hindered with the achievement of healthy growth and psychological development and the maintenance of self-cohesion.  Self psychology is a relational psychology in that it maintains that human psychological functioning is always embedded in social interactions.

See the Resources and Training page for a more extensive reading list about self psychology.


Other websites re Self Psychology

IAPSP International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology


ANZAP Australia and New Zealand Association of Psychotherapy

United States:

ICP Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis

IPSSNY Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity

NYIPSP New York Institute for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology

TRISP Training and Research in Intersubjective Self Psycholog


EFPS European Federation Psychoanalytic Self Psychology

Other countries:

Anatolia Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies: A Learning Place for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology (AAPP): Ankara, Turkey 


Associação Brasileira para o Estudo da Psicologia Psicanalítica do Self (Brazilian Association for the Study of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology) (ABEPPS): Brazil 


Beijing Beijia Psychological Counseling Center: Beijing, China 


Cape Town Psychoanalytic Self Psychology Group (CTPSPG: South Africa 


Empathink Association of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology (EAPSP): Australia 


Groupe d’étude sur l’intersubjectivité (GEI): Montreal, QC 


Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy + Psychoanalysis (ICP+P): Washington, DC 


Instituto de Psicoterapia Relacional (Institute of Relational Psychotherapy) (IPR): Spain 


Instituto Di Specializzaione In Psicologia Psicoanalitica Dez Se E Psicoanalisi Relazionale (ISIPSE): Italy 


Israel Association for Self Psychology and the Study of Subjectivity: Israel 


Japan Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology (JAPSP): Kobe, Japan 


Li Institute for Psychology (LIP): Beijing, China 


Minnesota Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis: Minneapolis, USA 


Nanjia Psychological Training Center (NPTC): Shanghai, China 


New York Institute for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology (NYIPSP): New York, USA 


Psychotherapy Institute: Kocaeli, Turkey 


Shanghai Xiaoxin Education Technology Co., Ltd 


SiChuan HeGuang Clinical Psychology Institute (SHCPI): Chengdu, China 


Taiyuan Yiyijia Self Psychology Group (TYSPG): Taiyuan, China 


Tehran Psychoanalytic Institute: Tehran, Iran 


The Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity (IPSSNY): New York, USA 


Training and Research in Intersubjective Self Psychology Foundation: New York, USA 


Wiener Kreis für Psychoanalyse und Selbstpsychologie (Vienna Circle for Psychoanalysis and Self Psychology) (VCPSP): Vienna, Austria 


Xin Yun Institute for Psychology: Shanghai, China

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