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About The International Psychoanalytical Association

The International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) is the oldest and largest international psychoanalytic organization and the world's primary accrediting and regulatory body for psychoanalysis. The IPA was first conceived in 1908, and formally established in 1910, by Sigmund Freud and his associates to serve as the professional association for the new field of psychoanalysis. The primary goals of the Association were to advance the development of psychoanalysis as a science and as a therapeutic discipline, to promote the disciplined growth of psychoanalysis as a profession, and to protect the public from untrained practitioners by establishing training standards for professional training and a professional membership credential designating its members.


The IPA continues to pursue these goals today by sponsoring research activities, professional publications, and scientific conferences, including its biennial "congresses," an organizational tradition since 1908, and by accrediting psychoanalytic training institutes in accordance with the highest international training standards in the world. The IPA today hosts 70 constituent organizations in 33 countries and represents 11,500 Members.

The IPA is governed by its board, consisting of a President, a Secretary General (appointed by the President), a Treasurer, and 21 representatives - all elected by the membership. The organizational activities of the IPA are also conducted by over 50 international committees and work groups.

The Historical Origins of the IPA

In 1902 Sigmund Freud invited four Viennese medical colleagues (Wilhelm Stekel, Alfred Adler, Max Kahane, and Rudolf Reitler) to meet him in order to discuss his work, and they formed what they called the Psychological Wednesday Society, since they met every week on that day. Stekel reported the proceedings of the group in the Sunday Edition of a local newpaper, and the small group began to grow, soon coming to include the musicologist Max Graf, the publisher Hugo Heller, the Viennese physicians Paul Federn and Edward Htschmann, and the young intellectual (a machinist by profession), Otto Rank, who was hired to serve as the group's secretary. By 1908 there were 14 members and the name was changed to the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society.

During these early years, Freud's work had begun to elicit the interest of foreign physicians eager to learn from "the Professor" and to apply the new science of psychoanalysis to their own work. In 1907, Max Eitingon, a Russian-born medical student, then completing his training in Zurich, Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, and Karl Abraham, a Berlin psychiatrist, became the first foreigners to visit Freud, and were soon to be followed by Sandor Ferenczi, from Budapest and Ernest Jones from London. Each would later become President of the IPA.

Many of Freud's distinguished visitors would go on to found local psychoanalytic societies in the cities where they lived. In 1907, Jung established the Freud Society in Zurich. In 1908, Karl Abraham founded the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society. A.A. Brill, an American who visited Freud in 1908, founded the New York Psychoanalytic Society in 1911, while Ernest Jones, then living in Canada, set up the American Psychoanalytic Association that same year (intended as a professional home for analysts outside New York). Two years later, in 1913, Sandor Ferenczi established the Budapest Psychoanalytic Society, and Ernest Jones, having returned to London from Canada, formed the London Psychoanalytic Society.

The growth of the local psychoanalytic societies was paralleled by interest in the formation of an international professional association. The idea for such an association was first articulated in 1907, during a visit by Ernest Jones at the home of Carl Jung, in Zurich. Jones suggested to Jung that an international meeting should be arranged to bring together colleagues from various countries in order to discuss their common interest in psychoanalysis. Freud welcomed the proposal, and suggested that a meeting be convened in Salzburg, Austria. Jung called this meeting the "First Congress for Freudian Psychology." This very informal meeting is now widely regarded as the first International Psychoanalytical Congress.

During the 1908 meeting in Salzburg, the idea of an international association was discussed and agreed upon. Freud enthusiastically supported the plan, believing that an international organization was essential to advance and safeguard his thinking and ideas. The second international conference was held at Nuremberg, Germany in March 1910. It was at this congress that the International Psychoanalytic Association was formally established.

For more information about the history of the International Psychoanalytic Association, click here.

Membership in the International Psychoanalytical Association

Membership in the IPA is open to psychoanalysts who have successfully completed training at an accredited psychoanalytic institute administered under the auspices of an IPA constituent society. Successful completion of training at such an organization entitles the graduate psychoanalyst to membership in both the component society and the International Psychoanalytical Society.

The IPA supports the formation and development of psychoanalytic training programs and professional societies based on sound educational criteria, embodied in the internationally recognized training standards of the IPA. Evaluation of groups seeking to join the IPA is the responsibility of the IPA's International New Groups Committee. The Committee will carefully assess the applicants' capacity to work as a scientific society and to deliver high-quality training programs.

Psychoanalytic groups wishing to become constituent societies of the IPA are encouraged to apply to the IPA or to contact CIPS for more information and assistance. The usual process for becoming an IPA psychoanalytic society is to become an IPA Study Group. IPA Study Groups that continue to meet IPA standards become Provisional Societies after two years and, after two additional years, are eligible become full component societies of the IPA.

The above material is based on "The life and work of Sigmund Freud, Volume 2" by Ernest Jones (Basic Books, New York, 1955), and on material supplied by the IPA.