Psychoanalytic Perspectives of Families and Couples


There are many psychological problems that impact on the family (and the couple) in addition to those which relate to the individual. Some problems are concerned with long-standing family disorders worthy of study and of psychoanalytical treatment. These include family problems which may lead to a psychotic breakdown and also other serious mental disorders affecting children and adolescents. Other problems can derive from current conditions: divorce, remarried couples with step-children, sexual abuse, adoption. Another type of problem may be related to specific, current societal developments such as immigration, post-war family integration of soldiers, same-sex couples among others.

The treatment of the family, which takes place over a number of sessions, is carried out with the parents and children together. Similarly, in the psychoanalysis of couples, both partners are present. The treatment of the family or couple as a unit enables a deeper understanding of the mechanisms, functions, and roots of the current disorders, and of the unconscious structure of the family as a whole. Insights gained not only help to deepen the knowledge of the roots of the personality of each individual who is part of the family or couple but they also help to understand the origins of conflicts within the family in the present.

Overall Objectives of the Committee:

  1. To study and advance the psychoanalytic approach to families and couples.
  2. To compare problems and conflicts of families and couples and their treatment in the regions of the IPA.
  3. To collect information about the work with families and couples carried out by IPA analysts.
  4. To encourage outreach to schools, hospitals, universities, family courts and other social work agencies by qualified pyschoanalysts.


The Chair and members of this Committee will be assumed to have submitted their resignations on the change of IPA administration in accordance with the Committees section within the IPA's Procedural Code. In any event, the work of the Committee shall be reviewed at the end of a four year term.

Approved by the Board January 2011

Full NamePosition
Dr. David E. ScharffChair
Dr. med. Elizabeth Susana Palacios GarcíaCo-Chair
Lic. Mónica VorchheimerCo-Chair
Dr. Richard M. ZeitnerCo-Chair
Dr. Leora BenioffMember
Fang FangIPSO Representative
Dr. Timothy Shaun KeoghMember
Dr. Tao LinMember
Ms. Mary MorganMember
Sra. Susana MuszkatMember