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Course Details


Ego Psychology (8 CE Credits)

Ego psychology represents a particular emphasis of psychoanalytic theory and practice that focuses upon the significance of the ego system, and is a major theoretical model in American psychoanalysis. In this ego psychology course, Dr. Michael J. Gerson begins with a brief overview of the evolution of S. Freud’s perspectives on the role of the ego, includes A. Freud’s contributions to understanding the dynamics of ego defenses, and ends with Hartmann’s elaborations on the ego as a system for adaptation.  

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.  Recommended prerequisite: Classical Psychoanalytic Theory.  A brief video provides opening remarks by Dr. Gerson.  This course may be applied to the Certificate of Advanced Study in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy if desired.  $119.


Course Objectives for Ego Psychology

As a result of this learning activity, the participant will be able to:

  • describe Sigmund Freud’s ideas of the mind as they evolved from a topographic to a structural model,
  • describe the evolving significance and functions S. Freud attributed to the developing ego,
  • describe Anna Freud’s contributions regarding the dynamics of ego defenses,
  • list and describe five properties of ego defenses, according to A. Freud,
  • list and describe seven levels of ego defenses in contemporary psychodynamic theories,
  • apply the seven levels of defenses to clinical cases of psychopathology,
  • describe Heinz Hartmann’s understanding of the function of the ego as an adaptive system,
  • describe Hartmann’s understanding of the evolution of psychopathology, and
  • apply ego psychology models of S. Freud, A. Freud, and Hartmann to clinical work with clients.


Course and Program Details for Ego Psychology


Ego Psychology

This CE course on Ego Psychology may be applied to our Certificate of Advanced Study in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy if desired and would count as a core course in the program. The 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.  

Classical Psychoanalytic Theory - 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 - 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 - 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,


Instructor for Ego Psychology

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 a professor emeritus with the Graduate School of Psychology at California Lutheran University and 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.


CE Credits for Ego Psychology

This course earns 8 continuing education credits. The Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

APA Approved Sponsor


Conflicts of Interest or Commercial Support

There is no commercial support or other potential conflicts of interest for this program, presentation, or instructor.


Commitment to Diversity and Accessibility

We are committed to respecting diversity in all of its forms, including age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, language, socioeconomic status, religion, and disability. We also strive to make all of our activities accessible to individuals with special needs or disabilities. Please contact the Director at if you ever have any questions or concerns regarding any of our programs.


Sources and Relevance

Our programs and teaching methods are supported by current, empirically-based scientific literature, and are designed to provide continuing education that is relevant to psychological practice, education, and/or research, so that psychologists may maintain and expand their ability to serve the public and contribute to the profession.


Target Audience for Ego Psychology

Our courses are designed for postdoctoral-level psychologists; this course on Ego Psychology is an introductory-level course. All mental health professionals, educators, and researchers have a variety of educational backgrounds and needs—if you have any questions about whether this course could benefit you and/or would be appropriate for your level of training, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may contact the Director directly at with any questions or concerns.


Course Schedule

This course will be available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you will be able pace yourself in a manner that is comfortable for you.


Cost and Refund/Cancellation Policy

The cost of the course is noted below; there are no additional fees. Your satisfaction is important to us. If you are not satisfied with a course, please let us know immediately—we will cancel your order and gladly offer you a full refund.


Course Format Summary for Ego Psychology

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 the Certificate of Advanced Study in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy if desired. $119.

Click here for opening remarks by Dr. Gerson.

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