History of The Sanville Institute
Pre-1974 Informal Planning Period
1974 Signing of the State Charter founding the Institute for Clinical Social Work
1975-1976 Formal Planning Year
1976-1977 Experimental Year
1977-1978 First Operational Year of the Institute
1984 Change of Name to California Institute for Clinical Social Work
1992 Admission of Marriage & Family Therapists
2004 Admission of master’s-level mental health professionals
2005 Change of name to The Sanville Institute
The Institute for Clinical Social Work was incorporated in October, 1974, by a small group of experienced practitioners with a vision of advanced professional education that would permit students to continue their practices while earning a doctoral degree. The founders were members of the California Society for Clinical Social Work, a California professional association, which sponsored the foundation of the Institute.
Following incorporation in 1974, the founding Board of Trustees began a series of meetings to develop the philosophy and direction of the program. After nearly a year of regular meetings, in September 1975, the trustees invited a group of highly esteemed clinical social workers from different areas of the State to participate in planning. In March 1976, this planning group was further expanded to include prominent social work educators, administrators, consultants, and practitioners.
Committees collected and reviewed literature on existing doctoral programs in social work, on other innovative educational programs offering advanced degrees, and from the World Health Organization, which had delineated model programs in professional education. Other committees formulated standards for selecting faculty and students and studied the requirements of the California State Department of Education, Office of Private Post-secondary Education. These studies culminated in the establishment of a nine-month program to test the tentative format and to further develop educational philosophy, curriculum, and modus operandi.
Forty-three highly qualified students were admitted out of 46 applicants for the experimental academic year of 1976/77. Five colloquia were established, each led by an “animateur,” a faculty member who served as facilitator. Each colloquium was charged with the further development of an aspect of the emerging program. The essential structure and content of the program as it exists today was created, and the program opened for new students in the fall of 1977.
In the spring of 1984, the Institute’s Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the Institute to the California Institute for Clinical Social Work in order to differentiate it from another similarly named school that was established in Chicago. In 1992 the Institute expanded its admission policies to include marriage and family therapists who demonstrate a commitment to the principles underlying clinical social work. In 2004, the Institute changed its admission criteria to a master’s degree in a field that leads to licensure as a mental health professional, sufficient practice to support clinical learning, and malpractice insurance. In January 2005, a new name for the Institute was inaugurated, The Sanville Institute.
Where to begin to tell you what it means to me to have the California Institute for Clinical Social Work renamed THE SANVILLE INSTITUTE? And that this change of name is happening because the Institute no longer limits its doctoral program to clinical social workers but extends its educational offerings to those holding master’s degrees in a closely related profession—marriage and family therapy—professionals who work in domains almost indistinguishable from those of social work. So, there would seem to be every reason to assume some basic similarities in what we do, although, for historical reasons, there may have existed some differences in how we think. Historically, we social workers may have drawn much more heavily upon psychoanalytic theory. I am sad that in today’s world there would seem to be few schools of social work still embracing the concepts of Freud and his creative followers. I think—or hope—that my own alma mater, Smith College School of Social Work is an exception. We might predict that in California both of these helping professions could be enriched by their “intermarriage.”
I am sure that many of you here this evening have already heard me tell of the factors that determined my own embracing of psychodynamic concepts. Like many adolescents, I suffered recurrent periods of doubt about my own psyche. So, when I found Karl Menninger’s The Human Mind on my physician-father’s bookshelf, I read it cover to cover and returned to it frequently. In that volume, Dr. Karl (as I later came to know him) introduced me to a budding new profession called psychiatric social work. That led me to the decision from which I have never deviated: that psychodynamic social work, guided by psychoanalytic principles, was going to be my profession. I lived in a small Pennsylvania community in which there were no psychoanalysts, but from her years in Goucher College, my mother had a Baltimore friend, a social worker, who visited us often. From her, I learned something of the existence of family agencies and of the psychodynamic theories that guided practice. But it took several years of dipping into other concepts before I discovered Smith College School of Social Work, where ideas derived from Freud and his followers were the bases of diagnosis and treatment.
I doubt that psychoanalytic theories way back in the 1940s had found their way into many colleges. Certainly, when I elected after graduating high school to go to the University of Colorado in Boulder, it was not in expectation of being taught Freudian concepts. I had simply fallen in love with the Rocky Mountains. In the summers when my maternal grandmother often took me and my cousin, Ruth Ernestine, to visit her sisters in Denver, we would make our way up into the Rockies, rent a cabin, and spend hours exploring trails with their breathtaking views. In truth, it was the geography of the area, not the content of possible academic courses, that took me to Boulder. I don’t think that in those days (the late 1930s) Freudian concepts had much entered academia.
In fact, I was deeply disappointed in some of my psychology courses at Boulder with their “operant conditioning” theoretical bases. Those dissatisfactions led me very early on to change my major from psychology to sociology. When there were professors who bored me with either the content or the style of their teaching, I was delighted that U. C. Boulder allowed me to not attend classes. Instead, I could get credit when my assigned papers and examination results demonstrated that I had learned what I should have. In my senior year, I took advantage of that leeway to learn to pilot an airplane. In the spring quarter, I got myself out to the Boulder Airport and was one of two women accepted as candidates for flying lessons. In retrospect, I realize that the real reason those lessons were available was an awareness that a war was coming, and the USA needed trained pilots. As it happened neither of us two women was inducted into military service, and during wartime we were not allowed to be pilots!
So, it was years before I flew a plane again. That was in the nation of Guyana in 1966, where my husband, who was then in public health, and I were mental health consultants. We had been invited by President Forbes Burnham to help him deal with the frightening problems brought about by the hatred each of the two racial-cultural groups had of one another. Among the ways it was being expressed was that parents sent their children to school armed! One day, perhaps to help me with my own intense distress about the racial tensions I encountered, President Burnham instructed his pilot to fly me to Ignasu Falls. When Richard told the pilot that I knew how to fly, he let me take over the plane, and, sitting beside me, gently instructed me on how to do what I had certainly never done before: land on water, the River above the falls. Burnham knew I had had a TV program in Los Angeles, a CBS twice weekly show called “Know Your Child,” so he gave me TV time during that summer. And, I was leading workshops and seminars for every group in the country that worked with people—including even the police, who were at first irritated, demanding to know what in the world mental health had to do with them! By the end of the summer, they loved me and the course and gave me a gift: a policemen’s club! Since I am not at all sure I’m even allowed to possess such a thing, I keep it on the highest shelf of a bookcase, one that patients must pass to get to the room that is my office. Only once has someone detected its presence. A male patient, referred against his will by his wife, entered my office saying, “You are breaking the law, you know!”
I have always loved contact with people who are of cultures other than my own. So, over the years, I’ve served as consultant in several nations in the Caribbean, in Peru, the Dominican Republic, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, and Japan. And for travel, I’ve turned to study tours of various lands: Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Cuba, China, Russia. And, of course, before and after being in those lands, I tend to read voraciously about them.
These days, I am painfully reminded of the great summer that Richard and I spent in Sri Lanka. We were doing mental health consultations, had spent some time in India, and were on our way to the island by plane when we met a Protestant minister and his wife and conversed with them intensively. It was certainly not a predictable situation, for neither Richard nor I were religiously oriented. But, we liked these two people and they us, so for a few weeks we accepted their invitation to move into their guest house. They were very helpful in our making contacts with groups, both in the educational and the medical communities. I include this because I have been terribly dismayed by the current stories of the tidal wave that has wrecked such havoc with “our” island and it peoples. I read the papers with tears in my eyes. I am still in touch with that minister and his wife, who now have returned to reside in the USA.
I have felt deep involvement with Mexico. When my husband Richard (Arturo Ricardo de Cordova Sanville) was alive, we drove to Mexico whenever we could find the time. By and large, we tried to avoid Mexico City, preferring the small communities, the countryside, and the rainy areas where we could find orchids. We had equipped ourselves with a license to import them, so we generally came home with plants that had to be treated to be sure we were not also importing insects. But, of course, the appeal was not only flowers; people were very important. We made many friends, especially in the mental health community. In the early years of our visits, the analysts were primarily medical men. But, as a consequence of our coming to know well some of the non-medical mental health people, several of them subsequently came to study with our Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies.
So—to make a long story short—today there is a non-medical institute in Mexico City, and it has at last been approved by the International Psychoanalytic. I am still often invited to go down and give talks and have thoroughly enjoyed that. Let me brag a bit—the last one I did in Spanish. Currently I am looking for some time to make the trip again, for the social work analysts want officially to award me in some way for the help they feel I gave them in accomplishing their goal of a training institute for non-medical mental health professionals.
For the last several years, I submitted proposals for presentations at the meeting of the Latino Social Work Network, and they have invited me to come. This year, I was late in submitting a proposal, and when I learned that our Institute was to have a new name, I felt sorry that I could not tell them about it there. As you can imagine from what I’ve been saying, I am eager that The Sanville Institute will attract and train some Latinos and Latinas.
I imagine that many other suggestions for a new name for what has been the California Institute for Clinical Social Work must have been proposed and discussed. I am not sure why the Board went back—in imagination or in actual memory—to the meetings of the clinical social workers who were the founders of the Institute. Many of us still harbor rich reminiscences of those founding meetings at Asilomar, the especially inspirational setting along California’s beautiful central coast. One of my favorite sayings in psychoanalysis is “Life begins with the dialogue” (asserted by Rene Spitz in my other intellectual home, Colorado). Well, CICSW began with a multilogue—the energetic exchange of ideas and ideals that were to shape this new institute. When we at last determined the concepts upon which we believed the Institute should be based, I was somehow selected to be its first dean. And, although I had never consciously aspired to that, I did accept the appointment, agreeing to serve for just two years. Then we selected Verneice Thompson, who took on the job for two years, followed by Rosemary Lukton, Judith Schiller, Samoan Barish and, now, Gareth Hill, all of whom have continued the original commitment to a fundamental grounding in psychoanalytic theory.
As I said earlier, I discovered psychoanalysis when I was still an adolescent through Karl Menninger’s book The Human Mind. I suspect that Dr. Bovard may have been a bit disappointed that his daughter did not select to study medicine. And, maybe his wife, Ruth Bovard, would have been more pleased had I chosen to become a teacher. Before she became a mother, she had been the Principal of Tionesta High School, and, as a Goucher graduate who had majored in education, she continued to serve on the boards of many schools in Western Pennsylvania. Indeed, Ruth Bovard came from a long line of teachers—her mother and two aunts had all chosen that profession. Since there were frequent meetings of teachers at our home, I could do some eavesdropping, and I was highly aware of the dissatisfactions teachers seemed eternally to be enduring.
And yet, years later, when the dean of the new School of Social Welfare at UCLA sought me out to be on his faculty, indeed to aid in developing the second year program, I could not say, “No.” And, I spent a lot of years there. Indeed, I am not sure I would ever have wanted to quit, but there was the “Year of the Oath,” and when I refused to sign, of course I was out. But, I was not out of teaching. Erik Erikson was in the same fix as I, and he took a job at Harvard and invited me to come too. I agreed for an array of reasons, including having children in Massachusetts. Some years later, Joel Schor and I made weekly trips to teach there, and Smith was always glad to have me on its summer faculty.
As the political situation gradually changed with the times, I was invited back by the new Dean of the UCLA School of Social Welfare to teach there again. After some years, she retired, and another dean came along, this one deciding to do away with psychodynamic theories. So, I was out again, except for some teaching in the Extension Division, which always has had greater freedoms in the theoretical realm. I enjoyed often teaming up with another analyst, Michael Dimond, from my institute, LAISPS, (the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies) and we taught a number of such courses together.
I was a founding member, thirty some years ago, of LAISPS. We believed strongly that medical training was not essential for a psychoanalyst. So, our Institute was, in its early years, sued by the American Psychoanalytic. As President at the time, I was subpoenaed and spent a day in a luxurious downtown law office being grilled by medical analysts, after which they dropped their suit. We have never as a group joined the American Psychoanalytic Association, but that organization does keep old Jean on an interdisciplinary committee that meets each year to discuss ways to improve various aspects of psychoanalytic training programs and to make suggestions that we think might deepen and broaden them. And the International Psychoanalytic, which never harbored this prejudice against non-medicals, invited such institutes in the U.S. to select representatives to the House of Delegates of the International. Norbert Freedman from New York and Jean Sanville from Los Angeles were elected and served as the first non-medical representatives from this country.
I feel that the California Institute for Clinical Social Work has deepened and broadened the ideas and ideals that we in the old founding group articulated years ago. At a time in history when most schools of social work are cutting down or eliminating psychodynamic perspectives, this institute manifests approaches that can keep honing those modes of diagnosis and therapy in ways that social changes will inevitably require.
I am profoundly moved that this PhD program will now be know as THE SANVILLE INSTITUTE. That is a form of immortality of which I never dreamed. I am deeply grateful to the Board of Trustees and Dean Gareth Hill.