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The American College of Psychoanalysts was initially established to honor outstanding psychiatrist-psychoanalysts, both in America and throughout the world. College Fellows are psychoanalysts who, aside from completing medical school, psychiatric residency, and psychoanalytic training, have distinguished themselves in psychiatric and/or psychoanalytic research, administration, lecturing, clinical practice, publication, and education. College Members are physician-psychoanalysts who have begun to make serious contributions to the field.

The College also includes Honorary Fellows who are distinguished psychoanalysts from non-medical backgrounds. The College offers Associate Membership to distinguished physicians with psychoanalytic interests and the College offers Affiliate Membership to physicians taking post-residency fellowships at psychoanalytic institutes.

The College is committed to mentoring the next generation of medically trained psychoanalysts and is also committed to mentoring early career psychiatrists and psychiatric residents who seek further understanding regarding the theory and the practice of psychodynamic psychotherapy. To facilitate this commitment, the College sponsors scholarships, mentoring programs, blogs, and a newsletter.

College traditions comprise cordiality, camaraderie, and intellectual honesty. The College sponsors an annual meeting at which there are lectures and forums, often with scholars from other disciplines, covering such timely topics as neuropsychoanalysis, modern psychoanalytic theory, world politics, psychoanalytic technique, child and infant research, and the interface of psychoanalysis with general psychiatry.