Longer Programmes

Psychoanalytic Observational Studies

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Psychoanalytic Observational Studies

Masters/PG Diploma Programme in Leeds

This course offers participants the opportunity to develop observational skills within a psychoanalytic framework and to apply this in their professional work.

Psychoanalytic Observational Studies is a distinctive experiential approach to training for professionals working with children, young people and their families.

The course is designed to help people deepen their understanding and awareness of human development and interaction and to help participants to think about their work from a psychodynamic perspective. The course is relevant to teachers, psychologists, child and adolescent psychiatrists, social workers, occupational therapists, nurses and allied professional disciplines.

Students are required to be working in a professional capacity with children, adolescents or families. They are generally expected to have had at least one year's experience of such work before commencing the course. This need not be in a clinical setting.

Completion of the course or equivalent is a pre-requisite for those wishing to apply for the clinical training in child and adolescent psychotherapy.


Applications are now open for 2023-2024 intake.  For further information regarding the programme in 2023-24 please see downloadable course flyer to the right of this page.

Click here to apply

Please note: Once you have gained access to the University portal please select the 'PGDip Psychoanalytic Observational Studies' option rather than the MPsych.

This course is validated by the University of Leeds, however all general enquiries are to be directed to NSCAP on 0113 855 8750 or nscap.lypft@nhs.net You may also like to check out the FAQ's below.


** HEE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Bursary for 2023-24 -Psychoanalytic Observational Studies**

Application deadline: 10th July 2023



External Examiner (2014 – 2018): Psychoanalytic Observational Studies

"Studying with NSCAP, the way you learn is beyond book learning to life learning: tailored to help develop all the resources you need in becoming a capable professional. You learn to face the complex and difficult demands of working situations and reflect on them even when under pressure to react. This learning method is structured into every part of the psychoanalytic observational course and supported by tutors and fellow students. As external examiner, I know from students' progression through the modules that they are changed by the way they learn and they thrive on this unique way of learning."

Wendy Hollway, Emeritus Professor of Psychology - Open University



We have produced a selection of videos to help potential students, and their employers, understand more about what is involved in psychoanalytic observation and how it benefits the student and their work practices. In these videos current and former students on the programme talk about their experience of being on the programme and how it has impacted on them.  We believe that our students are the best advocates for the distinctive and high quality experience of education and training at NSCAP.  We are very grateful to the students who agreed to contribute to these videos and who spoke so eloquently.

Video 1: NSCAP students talk about the experience of starting an infant observation and what they gained from the process. 


Video 2: In this video NSCAP students talk about how the course has helped them develop in their work with children and young people and also as individuals.


Video 3: NSCAP student Sam talks about his experience of the psychoanalytic observation course.


Video 4: In this video Michelle talks about how studying at NSCAP benefited her work as a midwife and how it has informed her current training as a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist.


Video 5: Students talk about their experience of learning and developing at NSCAP.

FAQs - Psychoanalytic Observational Studies

I have a first degree in (xxxxxx), will I still be able to apply for the course?
To be eligible for the course you will need a degree qualification in any subject. In particular circumstances applicants without a first degree may be considered and are advised to contact the admissions tutor to discuss eligibility and other training options.

Overseas students
Students must first have been working in the UK for a minimum of 1 year in a professional capacity with children, adolescents or families in order to be eligible to apply to the course. This needs to be on-going for the duration of their time on the programme.

Can I do the Psychoanalytic Observation Studies Programme full-time?
Psychoanalytic Observational Studies is a part-time course which takes place in small-group seminars one day a week on Fridays, for 30 weeks a year plus two extra training days. This is not a full time programme. However, you are expected to attend for weekly seminars as all teaching is face-to-face and requires high levels of participation. In addition, time is required to complete weekly observations, attendant travel and write up of observations. There is also a substantial amount of set reading.  This makes for a rich and immersive learning experience which is possible to accommodate around family and work commitments.

How do I find a baby?  Do NSCAP set it up?
This is something that is discussed in detail and carefully supported once a student has been accepted on the programme. With careful guidance and clear criteria students are expected to find an infant to observe. In addition, two ‘New Observers’ seminars are offered in the summer and early autumn term to think about the practicalities of setting up an observation and to begin the process of finding a suitable family to observe.

Is the Psychoanalytic Observation Studies Programme eligible for the postgraduate loan?
At present the course is not eligible for a Student Finance loan. Students are required to fund their studies privately.

What funding is available for the Psychoanalytic Observation Studies Programme?
Students are required to fund their studies privately or seek funding via their employer. The HEE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Bursary is available this academic year.  Please see the downloadable documents on this page for further information.

What kind of work experience is considered for the Psychoanalytic Observation Studies Programme?
The course is relevant to a wide range of professionals including teachers, mental health practitioners, nursery nurses, psychologists, social workers, support workers, psychiatrists, youth workers, nurses/midwives and allied professional disciplines. Students are required to have at least one year’s experience of working in a professional capacity with infants, children, adolescents or families before commencing the course. This can be paid or unpaid ie in a voluntary capacity. However it does need to be a clearly defined role within an organisational setting.  Working as a nanny or as a child minder in home settings are more complicated in relation to learning through psychoanalytic observation. If you have particular questions in relation to work experience please get in touch and a conversation with one of the course tutors can be arranged. 

I’ve had my own children, can that count towards my experience?
Experience with your own family is not counted as suitable experience as this needs to be within a professional capacity.

Can I speak to one of the course tutors?
If you would like a conversation about any aspect of the Psychoanalytic Observational Studies programme, work experience, your suitability or individual circumstances, please contact the admissions tutor Anna Spedding who will be happy to arrange a time to speak on the phone. 

isabel.blundell@nhs.net  [Admissions Tutor - Psychoanalytic Observational Studies]


Is this course right for me?

Who is the course for?
All professionals working with children, young people and their families who want to develop their capacity to observe and to think about the meaning of behaviour from a psychoanalytic perspective. Students include: teachers, learning mentors, social workers, residential care workers, psychologists, child and adolescent psychiatrists, paediatricians, counsellors, CAMHS practitioners, health visitors, midwives and youth workers.

What does it offer?
The skills gained through the experience of observing infants and young children over an extended period enhance the quality of direct work with children, young people and families. The programme is a pre-requisite for those wishing to undertake clinical training in child and adolescent psychotherapy.

Will it help my work with children and young people?
Students report that the programme is highly relevant to their professional work. Working practice is significantly enhanced by a better understanding of difficult or troubling behaviour. They also indicate that they feel more able to think under pressure and not to be forced into precipitate action.

The discussions were able to open out material in the observations so that I saw so much more than I thought was there.


Leeds Leaflet 2023-2024

HEE Bursary Demographic Information

HEE Bursary Application Form 2023-2024

HEE Bursary Guidance