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Course Details
Price $119.00

Ego Psychology (8 CE Credits)

Ego psychology emphasizes the significance of the ego system for adaptation.  It is rooted in Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, but takes on different forms through other psychoanalytic theorists’ conceptualizations.


Course Objectives

This introductory Ego Psychology course is designed to help the participant:

  • Describe the classical foundations of Sigmund Freud, as they evolved from a topographic model of the mind to a structural model;
  • Describe the significance and functions S. Freud attributed to the ego, as his views evolved;
  • Describe Anna Freud’s further contributions to recognizing and understanding the dynamics of ego defenses;
  • Describe the five properties of defenses;
  • Describe the seven levels of defenses in terms of adaptive functioning and psychopathology;
  • Apply each of these defense levels–from high adaptive to severe defensive dysregulation–to specific types of cases;
  • Describe the contributions of Heinz Hartmann, who presented an appreciation of the adaptive functions of the ego as an organizer of the mind, experience, and behavior; and
  • Describe Hartmann’s understanding of pathology in terms of developmental failures in the reciprocal process between the person and environment.


Course Content and Details



Product Description

Ego Psychology Course

This Ego Psychology course traces the theoretical and conceptual changes that have shaped our present-day understanding of the ego as both a metapsychological construct and a mental system.  

The course is divided into three parts.  

Ego Psychology Course - Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud

It begins with an overview of the classical theoretical foundations of Sigmund Freud, including his topographic model and structural hypothesis.  


Ego Psychology Course - Anna Freud 1957
Anna Freud

It then considers the ego defenses and the contribution of Anna Freud to understanding the importance of recognizing and understanding the dynamics of ego defenses.  

Ego Psychology Course - Heinz Hartmann
Heinz Hartmann

The course ends with a discussion of the contributions of Heinz Hartmann, who advanced the theme of the ego as an organizer of the mind, of experience, and of behavior and presented an appreciation of the ego as a system for adaptation. 

While some writings on the topic of ego psychology include the works of Erikson, Spitz, Bowlby, Malher, or Kohut, their focus is somewhat different from the development of ego and so will be addressed in other courses. 

For an in-depth discussion of Freudian theory, please see the course, Classical Psychoanalytic Theory.

Sources for Photos:  Sigmund Freud photo: By David Webb from Alicante, Spain – Sigmund Freud Uploaded by Viejo sabio, CC BY 2.0,;  Anna Freud photo: Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 bekijk toegang Bestanddeelnummer 923-9360,;  Heinz Hartmann photo: By Stilfehler – cropped from File:Jauregg_and_coworkers_Vienna.JPG, CC BY-SA 3.0,



The Instructor is Dr. Michael J. Gerson, an experienced Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, and Marriage and Family Therapist in California.  He has been training clinicians for over 30 years, both in his private practice, in community counseling centers, and as a professor of Psychology in graduate programs.  He is renowned for his depth of understanding of the therapeutic process and for his keen ability to translate complex concepts into terms that are clear and that can be applied to the clinician’s own work.


Course Format

This Ego Psychology course includes an online written transcript and accompanying audio files, for optional review in multiple modalities.  An online multiple choice test and Certificate of Completion follow completion of the course for 8 CE credits.  Introductory level.  This course may be applied to our Certificate in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy if desired.

Click here for opening remarks by Dr. Gerson.

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