Relationally Focused Psychodynamic Therapy Post-Graduate Certificate

Cultivate a relational embodiment of clinical theory and practice.

2 years

4 intensive retreats

32 consultation sessions

Did you become a therapist because you believe in the power of relationship? Are you eager to revitalize your practice with greater depth? Are you isolated in your work and looking for community? Do you desire more integration of relational theory with practical application?

Relationally Focused Psychodynamic Therapy (RFPT) is an evidence-based treatment approach with strong roots in depth psychology (particularly contemporary relational psychoanalysis), dialogical philosophy, and neuroscience. As of December 2018, the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy has set forth policy recommendations that evidence-based therapy relationships and responsiveness be taught as frequently as other evidence-based treatments. (Reference: Hilsenroth, M. J. (Ed), 2019. Special Issue: Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Relationships III, Psychotherapy, 55, 4, 311). The RFPT certificate program is a direct response to these policy recommendations.

To further develop your skills as a relational clinician we’ve designed a two-year post-graduate practice-focused, experiential training program that will be delivered through a dialogical community made up of bi-weekly online clinical consultations and twice-yearly in-person weekend intensive retreats. Persons who complete the two-year program and wish to become certified Trainer/Consultants may also apply for the third-year Trainer Program.

*As the program does not have to be completed in consecutive years, CEU hours will be issued at the end of each year.


Theory & Approach

Dr. Roy Barsness developed Relationally Focused Psychodynamic Therapy from his qualitative research conducted in the realm of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The result of that research culminated in his collaborative book, Core Competencies of Relational Psychoanalysis: A Guide to Practice, Study, and Research (Routledge, 2017).

At its core, Relationally Focused Psychodynamic Therapy is a psychotherapy modality that believes people change through relationship. The training program is designed to deepen a psychotherapist’s capacity to work directly within the therapeutic dyad as the primary instrument towards change, and to develop theoretical and practical skills in the delivery of a relationally-focused treatment.

No two therapists work in the same fashion, and given the uniqueness of each relationship and the working through of what happens in that relationship, it must be so. This training provides an in-depth exploration of:

  • How we position ourselves (therapeutic intent/therapeutic stance)
  • How we reflect (deep listening to the conscious and unconscious dynamics that naturally occur between patient and therapist, attending to the there and then/here and now, patterning/linking)
  • How we engage (repetition/working through and courageous speech/disciplined spontaneity)

These practices serve as a conciliatory “map” for practice, while at the same time acknowledging and appreciating the uniqueness of each relational dyad and the organic nature of our work.

Trained to appreciate and acknowledge difference within common practices, participants
will discover that the model is adaptable to other populations and in the delivery of diverse psychological services. Participants are also offered an ethical model essential to a relational perspective, that values integrity and considers the dignity of the other in the delivery of their services.

Tapping into your greatest clinical tool—your presence.

Participating in the Relationally Focused Psychodynamic Therapy Program will help you to:

  • Foster clinical community and consultation with other relationally-oriented practitioners
  • Develop an in-depth understanding of Relationally-focused Psychodynamic Therapy (RFPT) theory and practice
  • Clearly articulate and practice the Seven Core Competencies/Disciplines of a Relationally-focused Psychodynamic Therapist
  • Practice and evaluate your own expression of an RPFT modality, both theoretically and practically
  • Articulate and execute a clear ethic uniquely required in the work of RFPT
  • Understand and develop innovative means for working with diverse populations in a wide array of clinical expressions

“We hold to an understanding that we are conceived in relationship, formed in relationship, harmed in relationship, and transformed through relationship. Therefore, RFPT therapists are trained to attend to the dynamics between patient and therapist. The post-graduate certificate program is designed to deepen a psychotherapist’s capacity to work directly within the therapeutic dyad as the primary instrument towards change and to develop theoretical and praxis skills in the delivery of a relationally-focused treatment.”

Dr. Roy Barsness Meet Dr. Roy Barsness

Commitment: Time

The two-year design is intentional in order to allow you time and space to integrate each learning into your daily life. You will be asked to engage your full self—body, mind, soul—through engaging your past story, current practices, and future call.

Intensive Retreats
Each cohort will gather together for two intensive retreats per year. For the first year, retreat dates are October 18-20, 2019 at the start of the first year and again in March 27-29, 2020 at the end. Retreats are held at the Islandwood Retreat Center on Bainbridge Island. Retreats will begin on Friday and end on Sunday.

Clinical Consultation
16 bi-weekly, 100-minute, in-depth consultations per year with seasoned RFPT Trainers (Clarissa Hill, MA, LHMC; Bryan Nixon, MA, LPC; and Krista Law, MA, LMHC) who have worked with Dr. Barsness for several years as Assistant Instructors and in Clinical Consultation.

Each consultation group will have 4 members and one consultant. Sessions will be facilitated online to be engaged from the comfort of your office, no matter where you are based! Exact timing will be determined by the availability of the consultant and group members.

The format of each consultation session will be two case presentations following by checking in as a group. Case presentations will involve a brief history, why the clinician chose to present this particular patient, and the questions they are bringing. Preparing a verbatim is strongly encouraged.


Commitment: Finances

The program spans two calendar years, which can be helpful in managing resources (and business expenses).

The total cost of the program is $5,500 per year. The fee completely covers 2 intensive retreats on Bainbridge Island (accommodations, meals), 16 consultation sessions (32 hours total), a copy of Core Competencies in Relational Psychoanalysis, 64 units of continuing education, and access to the teaching library.

A $500 advanced tuition deposit is required to secure your seat at the time of enrollment (non-refundable after August 15).

Payment for the remainder of the certificate may be paid at in full at the time of enrollment or following enrollment participants will have the option to set up a payment plan that best suits their needs.

Application Process

Cohorts are limited to 12 participants, so we recommend applying early.

Participants must have a post-graduate degree in Counseling, Psychology, or Social Work and Professional Licensure in their state of practice.*

The RFPT certificate has rolling admission and applications will be reviewed as seats are available. Visit our Apply page to learn more about the application process and to connect with our Enrollment Team.

*Waivers are available for clinicians with Associate Licenses with a minimum of 3-5 years of experience.

“Working on this project has deepened and rekindled my passion for and belief in the profoundly transformative impact of practicing from this orientation. It is a way of practicing that is both generative and creative in its essence and is relatively rare. ”

Bryan Nixon, LPC

“Receiving Relationally Focused Psychodynamic consultation in a trusted group format has allowed me to contend with my own unconscious in ways that have direct impact in the treatment room. I have learned how to engage myself more honestly as well as find language to bring that access back to my patient for their benefit. ”

Krista Law, LMHC

“I am drawn to the RFPT model because it brings me back again and again to the necessity and value of bringing my "essential I" into the therapeutic relationship. Beyond deep listening, containing, validating and reflecting, this model also calls for the authentic me to show up and engage in the therapeutic relationship in order for there to be change and growth. This is both a terrifying and energizing call.”

Clarissa Hill, LMHC

Interested in growing as a relational psychodynamic clinician?

Connect with us! Request more information or apply today, and we’ll send you everything you need to know begin your journey.