European Psychoanalytical Federation

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The European Psychoanalytical Federation (EPF) is a scientific organization that consolidates all the European psychoanalytic societies affiliated with the International Psychoanalytic Association. In 2002 there were approximately 3,900 individual members in twenty-two countries, speaking eighteen different languages. It comprises twenty-five societies and three study groups (the Romanian Group, Belgrade Group, and Polish Group). A study group is the first level of integration of a psychoanalytic body within the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), followed by a provisional society and finally a member society.

The EPF was founded in 1966 by Raymond de Saussure, a well-known member of the Société suisse de psychanalyse (Swiss Society for Psychoanalysis), with Evelyne Kestemberg as secretary. The idea of a European psychoanalytic organization was first discussed at a series of European conferences on training, which had been organized every two years from 1960. The need for guidelines for psychoanalytic training in Europe contributed greatly to the creation of a European organization similar to the American Psychoanalytic Association, which had a unified training policy.

However, the European societies, concerned about their autonomy and independence in training matters, refused to accept this initial proposal and preferred the model of a federation of independent societies. The EPF is administered by an executive board, composed of an executive committee of seven members (president, president-elect, two vice presidents, secretary, treasurer, newsletter editor) and the presidents of the member societies and study groups.

The EPF has always served as a clearinghouse and forum for psychoanalytic societies in Europe. In this sense its function is essentially scientific, unlike the International Psychoanalytic Association, which also serves as a political entity in that it establishes common standards for training and practice for all member psychoanalysts.

In its bylaws, the EPF has set forth six major goals: to promote the development of psychoanalysis; to maintain and improve the standards for practice, training, and teaching; to promote psychoanalytic research and distribute information about the theory and practice of psychoanalysis; to improve communication among psychoanalysts by means of various publications, newsletters, scientific conferences, and other meetings; to create a discussion space for scientific fields related to psychoanalysis and other subjects of concern to psychoanalysts; to promote contacts between psychoanalysis and other disciplines.

Although initially the EPF limited itself to organizing an annual conference on training and to publishing an annual twenty-page bulletin, in 2004 it organized more than ten annual or biannual scientific gatherings: colloquia and conferences on training and on child and adolescent analysis, a large conference open to all members and candidates, a clinical seminar for members, a scientific symposium on a controversial theoretical issue, a seminar and summer university in Eastern Europe for Eastern Europeans, a clinical seminar for Europeans and North Americans. As of 2004, was the Bulletin de la Fédération européenne de psychanalyse (120 pages) is now (in 2004) published semiannually in the three official languages of the EPF (German, English, and French) and includes papers presented at the various conferences held throughout Europe. These papers reflect contemporary psychoanalytic dialogue and the problems encountered in the various European psychoanalytic societies.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century the EPF is at a point where it will have to define its role inside and outside the world of analysis. European psychoanalytic societies need to address a range of issues, including the professional status of the psychoanalyst (psychoanalyst or psychotherapist), the development of psychoanalysis in Eastern Europe, evaluation of the various methods of training, the difficulties associated with the many languages in Europe and the EPF's relation to diverse cultures and psychoanalytic traditions, and finally, the role of the EPF in light of the restructuring of the International Psychoanalytic Association, which, as an association of individual members, is evolving toward more adequate representation of the societies themselves. By providing a forum for discussing these issues, the EPF has agreed to promote a European psychoanalytic identity that allows for differences among European psychoanalysts while enabling them to focus on a limited number of scientific, ethical, and democratic values that reflect the Freudian tradition.

Alain Gibeault


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