The Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
The Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis - Graduate (MS/PhD) Ratings|
|Total Grad Surveys||35|
|Avg years at University||3.7|
|Research Quality||C+ (5.5)|
|Research Availability||C+ (5.5)|
|Research Funding||C- (3.6)|
|Graduate Politics||C+ (5.1)|
|Not Errand Runners||B- (5.8)|
|Degree Completion||C+ (5.1)|
|Alternative pay [ta/gsi]||C+ (5.0)|
|Sufficient Pay||C- (3.7)|
|Education Quality||B- (5.9)|
|Faculty Accessibility||B- (6.0)|
|Useful Research||B- (6.0)|
|"Individual" treatment||B- (6.3)|
|Campus Beauty||C+ (5.0)|
|Campus Maintenance||C+ (5.4)|
|University Spending||C+ (5.3)|
|Scholastic Success||C+ (5.5)|
|Surrounding City||A (9.5)|
|Social Life/ Environment||C (4.7)|
I would like to explain a bit more what my school, BGSP, is about. This is a psychoanalytic school where we learn a therapeutic style that many have thought obsolete. When people hear the term "psychoanalysis", they think of Freud and of the old-fashion, "classical" psychoanalysis with an intrusive, know-it-all therapist who will interpret everything the couched patient says, claiming that everything is about sex and the mother and asking for outstanding fees. Classical psychoanalysis still exists and works for a lot of people, but it has adapted to our time. In addition, BGSP teaches a modern psychoanalysis, which is less intrusive, respects and follows the patient's pace, comfort level, and needs, and is designed to treat and potentially cure psychotic conditions (such as schizophrenia, borderline disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, etc.) that classical psychoanalysis considered untreatable. Of course, it still treats everything else. Its biggest strength is it ability to adapt to each patient's needs and expectations, whether financial, psychological, or emotional. It is the only therapeutic technique that can uncover the source of psychological ailments, instead of just focusing on observable symptoms like many therapies nowadays. Finally, modern psychoanalysis allows patients to know themselves much better, to understand their own functioning and patterns, to be aware of uncomfortable and repressed feelings that controlled their behavior (compulsions, addictions, repetitions...) and so on and so forth.
Being a student at BGSP grants all students those benefits since it is mandatory to be in analysis along with being enrolled in courses. So not only do we learn those techniques and understand the mechanics of the human psyche, but we also learn about ourselves and we grow to become much more confident and able individuals socially and emotionally. Myself included, there are dozens of students who have noticed the change in them across months of being in this school. So yes, like most graduate schools, this experience is not free of charge and can be sometimes charged with emotional frustration. But the end result is largely worth it. Nobody changes without going through some more or less painful or uncomfortable phases. People who expect that need to wake up.
Now, in reaction to the person who butchered every positive review about BGSP, this is what I would like to say.
The traits that are listed in the post are supposed to be signs of a cult, as in everybody is in the same boat, we all defend each other, and we are emotionally open. I agree with this person; cults do normally harbor these traits. However, another type of group also can feature these aspects: FAMILY. This is how I feel in this school; that I am entitled to express everything I have, even if it is all negative. BGSP has been receiving many negative reviews and comments from students and it's fine! They have the right to be disappointed or angry, but that is usually because they misunderstood what the school had to offer. Psychoanalysis is very powerful and will strike some sensitive chords, because they need to be stricken in order to understand more about ourselves. It is a small school, so sometimes, we do have to look for answers instead of expecting an email presenting everything we need on a cyber platter like in huge campuses. But it is a small school after all, so looking for answers is usually not difficult. Everybody knows everybody and communication is easy. If a student comes here not knowing what to expect and not open to emotional experiences, there will be discomfort.
Before going into psychology, I went to medical school. I failed everywhere there and I wasted tremendous time and money. I was furious but I understood that medicine was not for me; I was not interested in learning that discipline. It has nothing to do with the school. The school teaches what it is supposed to teach and nothing more. So I could write reviews about medical schools, telling everybody to stay the hell away from them because it is too hard to graduate and because it is too expensive, but I am the one who should have thought it through before throwing myself in such an endeavor. This is the same thing for former students from BGSP. They hate the school because this type of teaching and the content of the courses were simply not for them. It is always easier to blame and attack others rather than taking a long and honest look at oneself.
Anyway, if you have read this entire post, I would like to say thank you and I hope you understand that you have to make up your own mind based on your own information and be aware that each student is heavily biased by emotions and experiences. Negative feelings will provide great motivation to write an angry review, while positive feelings are unfortunately not as motivating since the bearer of the feeling is already satisfied.
Good luck and thank you for your time.Jonathan
BGSP is formerly a psychoanalytic institute and is now a school with full accreditation from the state to grant degrees at Masters and Doctoral levels. Before judging this school too severely, it would be relevant to realize that this is the only school in the United States where one can be granted an actual degree in Psychoanalysis. All the other psychoanalytic centers across America can only give certificates, which are not degrees/diplomas.
Secondly, this is a psychoanalytic school, which means that teachers are psychoanalysts themselves and therefore behave as such. If a student expects the exact same atmosphere and experience at BGSP than in any other college, he will be fooling himself! Such an expectation is comparable to believing that visiting a zoo and going on a safari in Africa will be similar in experience. Psychoanalysis is a therapy style but also a way of thinking and feeling. Learning psychoanalytic techniques properly will inevitably affect one's way of life. Therefore, faculty members, and students, will act more and more in a psychoanalytic way and most processes used in the school also follow these dynamics. Why? because it is impossible to learn psychoanalysis through theoretical readings. While the reading part is necessary to build the basics, experiencing this emotional science is the only way to go in order to fully grasp the meaning of it. As a result, merely being in the school will teach anybody some notions of psychoanalysis, in addition to the assignments, the attendance, the debates, the papers, the readings, the internships, the externships, etc. The whole environment is psychoanalytic to allow students to be fully immersed in it, to live it. After all, it is sometimes quite abstract and difficult to understand. One of my teachers here told us once, reacting to a student claiming that she gave up on the reading because she could not understand it, that "there is no baby food in psychoanalysis unfortunately. Learning it is like giving a steak to a baby. It is difficult to chew and several attempts are necessary to get through it." Nobody here will tell a student that he is stupid for not understanding a text. Instead, this student will be told not to worry, that the same theories will reappear more than once in several texts and that with repetition and practice (in internships for instance), understanding will come naturally. All that to explain that entering BGSP is not the same as entering any other graduate school, since the frame of mind is completely different.
The teaching style is usually what most people complain about, but it usually because of a lack of understanding or a misinterpretation of the faculty's intentions and goals. In a nut shell, their teaching style directly reflects their therapeutic style. This is called "process teaching", meaning that the teachers' behavior is designed to show, as opposed to lecture, how to act with a patient. This is another way to learn through experience, which is in my opinion the best way to learn anything. Classes are seminar-based, full of debates and shares, which is very different from the impersonal lectures in huge classrooms. Learning is done through talking, participating, proposing ideas and opinions, discussing readings, and sharing personal experiences in class. Note-taking is not the most common practice in BGSP's classes, as it is believed to be counterproductive in most cases. After all, a student who is taking notes will inevitably lose some of the content being discussed. Therefore, classes feel more like friendly, sometimes emotionally intense discussions rather than boring and impersonal lectures punctuated with tedious and stressful note-taking.
To best describe the atmosphere of BGSP, the most appropriate word I can think of is "free". There are no rigid rules (with a few exceptions of course) here. While there are rules to abide by, breaking them will not lead a student straight to expulsion or horrible consequences. Everything happens through discussions with faculty. For instance, we are allowed no more than two excused absences per course, beyond what we supposedly forfeit the course's credits. In other words, the teacher is expected to fail such a student. Nonetheless, I have never seen this rule applied to the letter, as it would be in any other college. Here, the teacher (a psychoanalyst) will try to understand the reasons behind the student's behavior, will come in contact with him in order to find some compromise or a way to fix the situation. Basically, there is a second chance offered to every student.
The relationship between students and teachers is much closer than in other universities. One sacred tradition at BGSP is the writing of a log after or before every class. A log is a small card on which the student can write absolutely anything he so desires. This log is a private communication to the teacher, read only by the teacher. Being professional therapists, faculty members encourage freedom of speech and of emotions, so much so that the log can read anything, including complaints and compliments in any form. This is not an exaggeration! Teachers will never retaliate, fail, or even treat a student differently after reading a negative log. They welcome all feedback as a sign of healthy verbalization from the student.
Furthermore, the link between students is, to me, infinitely stronger than in any other academic institute. If a student comes to BGSP with an open mind and truly prepared to face the emotional turmoil triggered by this therapy style, much will be shared in classes, sometimes in words and some other times, in body language and speech patterns. In any case, students typically feel closer to each other simply because of the amount of feelings they share with each other.
Finally, BGSP will change students. This is something anybody being here for a while will not deny. When I started, I was shy, afraid to say anything negative to anybody or about anybody, and very afraid to start seeing patients. Now, thanks to all the courses, the internship, the externship, the mandatory analysis, the several supervisions, and the logs I described previously, I am much more confident, not afraid to defend my principles and speak my mind, and I cannot wait to build my private practice as I have experienced firsthand psychotic patients.
This school has made me grow emotionally and intellectually, and such a change is worth every minute and dollar I spent here.Regarding the occasional administrative issues, yes, it can be frustrating sometimes but it is good to mention once more that BGSP is a very young school. They are improving constantly and patience is required in some cases. The best thing to do is to work with them and give recommendations, which are always welcome.
They are hostile to bright stiudents as they fell and rightly so intimidated by them. They are charging over $100 for supervision, mostly $150. Together with analysis which costs the same both are obligatory once a wekk. Do the math! In other institutes supervision and analysis for students are much less costly.
Re the doctorate: it costs a fortune. Not like in real academic instititutions you pay your reders and your committee to read your dissertation or to talk to you about it. You end up spending ten tousand dollars just for this. At least!
While in real academic institutions the dissertation is covered by tuition here you pay extra and it can get to astronomical figures!
It is hard, it is frustrating. But in the end, I am stronger - I can sit with patients and know that what I feel - uncertain, confused, frustrated - is part of it. I have won prizes for my work - my thinking is far advanced from others in my field thanks to the hard work of research into unconscious process, and I am glad I stayed with the training, because a lot of people can't cut it...
*non-academic. This means all classes are about the process of psychotherapy. Many students use these classes as a source of therapy and faculty encourages this as part of the learning process, when it is in fact harmful and an unhelpful academic procedure.
*unprofessional-faculty talks about students behind their backs. If you are close with particular instructors, you will soon learn which students are considered brilliant, lazy, neurotic, who sleeps in class, who is always late, who exposes their breast too much wearing scantily clad clothing, who has incompletes, who manipulates staff, who does not pay and uses excuses -- faculty is not trust worthy as they speak too openly about the students.
*clueless when it comes to their own programs. not one advisor has a straight answer for how many analytic hours you need, which paperwork you need to fill out or even which classes to take.
*finance department cannot even explain costs to you
My experience with BGSP: I completed a Master's in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies (Non-Clinical) at University College London (UCL) in 2005 and, wanting to be trained in clinical psychoanalysis, decided to further my studies at BGSP. Coming from the experience of the traditional didactic teaching approach of UCL, I found the teaching style of BGSP very different and it took a while to get used to. Much of the learning in the classes is experiential and students are encouraged to explore their own reactions to the group processes as each class unfolds. As a practicing clinician, I cannot underscore enough the profound value of this experience.
If you are looking for a straight-laced didactic experience then this may be the wrong place - the "process" teaching used at BGSP is structured to create a space in which students can study the unconscious as it influences interpersonal interactions in the moment, rather than solely reading about the unconscious in the abstract academic sense. Emotional learning can at times be exhausting but it offers students the valuable opportunity to understand unconscious dynamics from a subjective/experiential rather than objective/abstract vantage point (which as a clinician is vital).
My advice: If you are the type of person who is really interested in clinical psychoanalysis and in getting to know yourself, your unconscious, and how people work on the deepest levels then the frustrations that you will unavoidably have to endure in the process of figuring these things out will be worth it. It is hard work - not in the traditional head-in-the-books kind of way. It is emotionally hard work and when BGSP advertises that "it is not just an education, it is a transformative experience" they are not kidding.... For me, it has been very worthwhile. I have certainly had my ups and downs and there have been times when I have wanted to pack it all in and become a sheep farmer (who hasn't?) but looking back I can honestly say that I have had the kind of transformative experience that attracted me to BGSP in the first place.
The courses provide lots of readings, classical and contemporary, in regard to important and necessary solutions in regard to the issues encountered in the real life of the profession, with severe disorders. This is not nothing, in the sens that I do not know many Institutes specialized in these difficult type of issues, especially nowdays. And, without any doctrinal position. I feel the biggest freedom of speach and readings that I did not encounter in other institutions.
But, on the other hand, the conditions for the personal analysis as the group analysis of the emotions involved when working with such clientele, which consists in the first and the most important requirement to be a good analyst, are designed with intelligence and respect to the path of every student. That's why in the long and painful time of learning some students get jobs where their expertise is recognized. The Therapy center offers services to individuals without insurances; these two points make of the BGSP a useful organization for the society and devoted therapists to their patients. It's difference is to be unerstood in this sens and the fact that somewhere, if they are not perfect, they are pioneers in the field.
Note: the lincensing situation in psychoanalysis is now a big debate and not only the problem of only one organization. Some other psychoanalytic organizations have taken the Institute as a model on some aspects of the practice and in the interest of the patients. The magazine publishes interesting and original cases. Overall I recomand it but only to those who have strong willing to understand severe disorders, in other words, the deepest mysteries of our minds with passion and without fear, to demystify this huge type of disorder that implies the hugest suffering that exists.
I was in it far longer then planned (and far longer then it usually takes) owing to circumstances and issues in my own life. It was not because of any limitations in the program. Assuming one has no major impediments in their own life, one can normally complete all academic and clinical work in somewhere between 2 and 3 years depending on one’s course load. All of the potential (and avoidable) delays can be avoided by getting one's Fieldwork Placement lined-up as soon as possible and by determining one's Master’s Thesis / Master's Paper topic as soon as possible. Not having to work whilst researching and writing the Master’s Thesis / Master's Paper will GREATLY accelerate how fast it can be researched, written, edited, and completed. I also recommended choosing from the most highly-placed and experienced Faculty Members for one’s Thesis Advisor and going with their recommendations for potential Readers as it will save time and effort for all concerned. Make sure to keep photocopies of EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT that you hand in to either your teachers or the administration and also do not hesitate for one second to change your Thesis Team if it isn’t fair, efficient, and constructive.
Through my involvement in my classes, my clinical work, and my personal psychoanalytic therapy, I was able to become a far more compassionate, kind, healthy, and happy human being in myself, in my relationships, and towards the world. I learned the reasons why it is important for people to have the ability to constructively access, feel, and express all their emotions and the price that they and their minds, bodies, relationships, families, communities, and societies will pay if they do not. BGSP improved my life -- indeed it gave me life -- in so many wonderful ways.
If I had it to do all over again, I would make the same choice over and over and over again. I would even venture to say that attending this school should be mandatory no matter what one’s career, relationship, or life plans. It really is that important and it’s better to do it when one is still young and has not yet gone too far in either their professional and personal life because then there’s still time to build a healthy and solid foundation that will serve one well no matter where they may wind up. I guarantee that the education, treatment, and training offered at this school can and will increase your odds for success in terms of relationships, career, long-term health, and happiness as far as they possibly can be increased.
In terms of scheduling and cost, the school is an academic, emotional, and financial bargain because you can actually cover all of your tuition and analytic expenses with a full Federal Stafford Loan and even have a little bit for living expenses (Not enough to live on, but it helps!). You also still have most of the week or weekend free for working. Considering that most graduate programs suck-up all the Federal Money and have such unreasonable schedules for working adults, BGSP makes learning, working, and staying alive while you do it VERY POSSIBLE.
At the present time, the school is beginning to align its curriculum with the requirements for the LMHC Licensing Requirements which is a good and very important move toward making the Master’s Degree more marketable. The degree is officially an Academic Degree, but as anyone who has completed it can attest, we actually get training that exceeds all of the other clinical programs out there, even many of those that are at the Doctoral Level.
BGSP, like all established and expanding schools has some challenges it needs to attend to. Because of the far-reaching effectiveness of both Modern Psychoanalytic Theory and Treatment, both the school and the discipline have not needed to explore the work of others as much as either probably should have just to stay well-versed on current trends. The program also needs to be structured to include greater diversity and representation of all of the major perspectives in Psychoanalysis, Social Work, Human Services, and Education. Also needing to be included should be more material from Evolutionary Biopsychology, Anthropology, Sociology, and Economics because they all inform the work of the discipline even further. A move in these directions has been happening through their recently created ISV Doctoral Program.
Most of the faculty are very helpful and open-minded to new ideas and do make an effort to stay abreast of extra-disciplinary developments. All that being said, there are a very few faculty and administrators who one might term Modern Psychoanalytic Dogmatists and who, in their capacities as Educators, Clinicians, and Administrators, are not as open-minded or inclusive as they should be of either dissent or new ideas.
One part of the problem may be that extensive successful clinical work (with a middle and upper-class client demographic) has lead to some of them losing sight of the fact that sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, abuse, pain, poverty, and suffering can also happen independently of people’s self-destructive drives and internal assembly of external reality. Another part of the problem may be that the role one functions in as Psychoanalyst and then the role that one functions in as an Educator, Administrator, and Policymaker should not be one and the same. The last major part of the problem may be that BGSP’s student demographics have shifted from being exclusively established middle-aged and mid-career professionals to include many people who are young and at the beginning of their career.I believe that the administration, the faculty, and the school are still trying to navigate and make sense of that transition, how best to meet those demands, and the structure of the administration is still in the process of being perfected. BGSP, as they say (and despite a few areas that needs to be worked on) really is all that and a bag of chips!
i highly recommend the institute. while not a member of the graduate program per se...my level A training was in the same coursework, and i attended the same classes as graduate students. The level of discourse and ideas, the classroom exchange, was dynamic and open minded. if a student wants to be well trained, he or she will be...and if one wants to have a good experience at the school one can....it is really up to the student.