The Northwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study was founded in 1989 by clinicians seeking advanced training in psychoanalysis at a time when non-medical practitioners were unable to train at institutes affiliated with the American Psychoanalytic Association. The organization began with the spirit of inclusiveness and a proactive orientation toward pursuing and fulfilling educational interests. After producing the first Forum conference, the founders created a year-long study course for themselves led by local instructors. This was followed by the Master Clinicians Series which offered a Friday evening lecture open to the community and a day-long study group with the approximately 30 students who signed up for the series. These events were met with enthusiasm by local psychologists, psychotherapists and mental health counselors, and the Alliance rapidly gained over 100 members.
Early activities of the Alliance included variations on the three seminal events: the Education Committee organized classes led by local instructors, the Forum Committee organized an annual conference and the Special Events Committee produced a rich array of lectures by internationally renowned psychoanalysts. Additionally, monthly meetings offered a lecture and discussion by local professionals through the Professional Meetings committee. All but the Professional Meetings committee continues to date, changing according to new leadership and the pulls of developments in the field of psychoanalysis. (The Special Events Committee now goes by a new name name, Distinguished Speakers Committee.) The Alliance also established a library and a quarterly newsletter, which evolved to become the Forum publication.
In the mid 90’s the Seattle psychoanalytic community witnessed a swell in psychoanalytically-oriented organizations. Three new institutes were founded and, between them and Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (SPSI), there was an abundance of lectures and classes available for the community. The Alliance experienced lower attendance at events and took a serious look at whether we had accomplished our goal and were no longer needed. The decision at that year’s board retreat was that Seattle still needed a non-denominational center for psychoanalytic study. We scaled back the expense of a library by donating it to SPSI with the understanding that membership to the Alliance allows one to use the SPSI library, and expanded the newsletter to provide a vehicle for writing by members. The Forum newsletter grew and became one of several benefits of membership, published three times a year. At this writing the Forum has been retired, and has yet to take a new form.
At the initiation of a member in 1995, the Alliance began to sponsor a low-fee clinic-without-walls. The Alliance Community Psychotherapy Clinic’s first mission was to help train psychoanalytically-informed therapists. The second priority was to provide psychoanalytically-informed psychotherapy to people who could make use of this treatment and would not otherwise have been able to afford it. Thus clinic therapists provided pro-bono services to clients in exchange for receiving weekly consultations on their cases. Both therapists and consultants volunteered and the fees from clients were used to pay for administration of the clinic. For more than two decades this “win-win-win” model provided services to in-need clients who received reduced-fee, psychodynamic therapy, offered therapists training, and gave consultants the opportunity to give back to the community that helped them develop. The clinic also offered consultation groups, clinical presentations, and a consultants’ consultation group. After careful consideration, our Board decided to close the Alliance Community Psychotherapy Clinic in 2019.
For five years (2004-09) ACPC sponsored an Internship Program in addition to its clinic-without-walls. This program provided training and offices for interns to engage in a 20-hours-a-week program of clinical work, classes, supervision, consultation groups, and mentorship. We consider the Internship Program program a great success, but unfortunately the administration of a program this complex was found to be more than we, as a volunteer organization, could maintain.
The Internship Program closed with a surplus of money, which has been designated as the Special Initiatives Grant (SIG) fund. We offer money to individuals and organizations through an annual RFP process. Our role as a grantor of funds began in 2013.
The Dorpat Lecture in Psychoanalysis and Society recognizes significant works in applying psychoanalytic understanding to social problems. The lecture series was begun in honor of Theo Dorpat, MD, Seattle psychoanalyst. Upon Dr. Dorpat’s death in 2006, an anonymous donor entrusted the alliance with funds to arrange such lectures annually for the larger Seattle community free of charge.
Each year the Alliance sponsors a program celebrating the artists in the Alliance called Potential Space. This evening of poetry, music, theater, dance and visual arts began in 2004 and has been a much appreciated opportunity to come together as a community in celebration of our creativity.
The Alliance was founded in the spirit of a can-do attitude. When the founders encountered obstacles to psychoanalytic continuing education, they created the circumstances that could satisfy their interest and needs. A proactive position around interests and concerns (within the mission of furthering psychoanalytic study) lies at the foundation of how the Alliance was formed and continues to develop. It is a volunteer organization. The board is a working board. Committees are actively producers of events, services and publications. The greatest wealth of the Alliance is the participation of membership.
The Alliance attempts to create a welcoming and supportive environment for study and discussion, as well as an encouraging atmosphere for those taking the initiative to develop containers for that study (classes, meetings, conferences, and publications). We believe this value lies at the heart of why the Alliance has succeeded and grown.