Letter from the Director and Board President

Monday, April 6, 2020

Dear SPSI Community,

We find ourselves in challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives in many significant ways. As an institute, we have had to change the way we hold all classes and meetings. We are holding all meetings virtually, so that we can protect our members. Classes, Faculty meetings, committee meetings, public events—these are all being done using virtual technology. Regrettably, we have had to postpone important social and celebratory gatherings until we can be sure everyone can attend safely.

Our practices have also changed deeply. We are “seeing” our patients via alternate means. Instead of meeting with our patients and clients in our offices, we work virtually. We have had to adapt quickly because the virus has spread quickly. We have had to be creative, patient, and flexible.

We are a strong group and we support each other, finding solutions and sharing them with one another, and coming together in ways that we didn’t expect. We are succeeding in offering each other and our community support and nurturance.

There will be frustrations and unknowns along the way, but we are together in spirit, and we will get through this. We are finding courage within at every obstacle, and creativity in surmounting problems. At times like this, the words of Thomas Paine come to mind:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

We believe in ourselves, our SPSI community and our wider community. We are in a developing situation, and with patience, thoughtful consideration and deep regard for one another, we will see our way forward.

With our best wishes,
Sheri A. Butler, Director
Rebecca Meredith, Board President

Letter from the Director

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Dear Faculty, Board Members, Clinical Associates, Psychotherapy Program students, Associate and Community Members:

The beginning of the academic year is always an exciting time as we welcome new students to SPSI and classes begin again. But this year we also experienced the loss of one of SPSI’s earliest members, Charlie Mangham. Charlie helped build an important foundation in child and adult analytic thinking at SPSI and its predecessor institute. His thinking about child and adult development, the entire lifespan, was seamless. We will miss him and his thinking greatly. Charlie inspired us to look beneath the surface of our patient’s communications. He understood the power of deep understanding. As we begin our new academic year, we can still benefit from this approach.

With that in mind, I’d like to share some of my thinking. I spent time during my year as Director-elect studying how SPSI, a non-profit corporation, functions. I focused carefully on how we operate, and our history, so that I could see deeply into what allows us to survive and thrive. We have built structures, policies and procedures that we must apply with wisdom, and humanity because they have a powerful impact on us as an organization and as individuals. We are healthiest when we can evolve, and when we remain humane and respectful towards each other in how we apply our policies.

Some of our most important struggles involve how we understand and teach psychoanalytic knowledge and how we treat students. We must be able to receive feedback, comments, and critique because this tells us what to update and change. In our modern educational environment, it’s our obligation to ensure that students are educated up to the current state of knowledge in our field. We must also involve students in forming curriculum and policy. We should allow change to enter our thinking and work with ease and grace. When we battle against essential change we pull ourselves apart and then experience a break down in our relationships.

We have structures and connections that help us navigate. We are connected to each other by deep bonds of honor, decency, and friendship, but we also have legal commitments. Included in these are acting in SPSI’s best interest, cooperating, fulfilling what we advertise on our website and pamphlets, and recognizing that we’re a private institute of post-secondary education in Washington State. We are so serious about being dedicated volunteer professionals, that we even sign a contract with SPSI when we apply for reappointment.

Working together is the healthiest direction for all of us. We want everyone involved, in person, so that each member has a voice and is knowledgeable about decisions and changes made at SPSI. I wish for all of you to be a vital part of our work. SPSI needs everyone involved in serving or chairing committees, teaching, attending faculty meetings, and volunteering to advance SPSI in creative and far reaching endeavors. I am reminded of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech about the value of the person in the arena:

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

I envision classes where we forge ahead with our commitment to understanding how the mind works, where we build a child analytic, developmental viewpoint that stems from all of the major psychoanalytic theories, where we see patients embedded in their families, and our students learn about how to work with families in all their diversity. We can learn so much about where our patients have come from, where their lives are going, and how to best help them when we see them through all of the theoretical lenses we have available.

Our greatest strength lies in our working together wisely. We give our time to provide an excellent psychoanalytic or psychotherapeutic education to our students. We listen to them as they develop and become our colleagues. We think and care about our evolving structures and always, always keep in mind that no part of our structure is somehow more important than the impact it is having on our members. We’re a non-profit organization with many moving, interacting parts. We’re a group of people who must always keep in mind that policies, procedures and structures are to serve us and serve our needs. That’s the way to stay together. We need to keep building our bonds of wisdom, humanity, and a commitment to evolve as an institute.

Our direction is together.

Sheri A. Butler, MD

Director’s Letter

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Soon our 2016-2017 academic year will begin, and I want to thank everyone for your support and dedication to SPSI.

Over the past few years our faculty and associates have worked diligently to enhance our institute and facilitate our esprit de corps. To do so, we have developed a methodology for recognizing our individual achievements and contributions, as well as a process of working out conflict. Our open discussions have deepened our commitment to SPSI and enhanced our relationships with one another. And, we continue to work accordingly.

I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who have contributed to SPSI as teachers, committee chairs and members, Board members, donors and students. Your efforts are valued and appreciated.

Proof of our ongoing success is demonstrated by the continuation of our robust classes. This year a new class of seven clinical associates will begin adult psychoanalytic training. Of these new students, three are also enrolled in child and adolescent psychoanalytic training. We have eleven new APPP students and seven new CPPP students.

Over the last few years, there have been some major changes in the structure of our parent organization, the American Psychoanalytic Association, with more changes to yet come. Members of APsaA will be voting on what is called the “Six Point Plan” next year. If passed, this will change APsaA from a regulatory organization to a membership organization resulting in significant changes at the local level. SPSI will then have the opportunity to reorganize our policies and procedures, including TA appointments, in the direction of more flexibility. APsaA will no longer provide the bedrock of standards, but the standards of the International Psychoanalytic Association will become our baseline. Over the course of this upcoming year, we will be discussing how we would like to shape our organization. Faculty meetings will, in part, be devoted to whether and how we would like to change our vision, policies and procedures.

As a result of these changes, site visits by the Committee on Institutes of the American Psychoanalytic Association have become optional. Given that SPSI already has full accreditation by the ACPEinc, we decided to cancel our scheduled COI site visit. This, of course, has freed up many resources (time and money in particular), allowing us to focus more on local issues.

There have been many transitions over the last year.

Sadly, George (Mike) Allison, M.D. passed away. Mike was one of the founding members of our organization, a past president of APsaA, and a beloved member of our community. He will hold a special place in our hearts, and will not be forgotten.

Several of our committee chairs will be rotating off of their positions after years of work and devotion. They are: Mike Gundle, M.D., Progression Committee; Diane Wolman, M.S.W., Curriculum Committee; Melissa Stoker, M.S., APPP; Jacqui Metzger, M.S.W., Faculty Appointment Committee; Diane Grise, M.S.W., CPPP; Don Schimmel, Ph.D. and Lisa Kahan, Ph.D., Child Program Co-Chairs; Cecile Bassen, M.D., Continuing Education Committee; and, Ron Levin, M.D., Training Analyst Committee.

On a brighter note, the years of 2015 and 2016 have seen the graduations of many associates in our core psychoanalytic training program. Congratulations to Babak Roshanaei-Moghaddam, M.D., Luke Rho, M.D., Babs Glover, M.A., LMHC, Bertrand Wicholas, M.D., and Greg Silverman, JD (who graduated from the Academic Associate Program). We are very fortunate to have these individuals continue on as faculty and Board members at SPSI.

Congratulations are also in order for the achievements of several of our members:

  • Mike Gundle, M.D. was elected Councilor at Large, as well as Co-Chair of the Task Force on Governance and Structure for APsaA, and the IPA Co-Chair of the Sponsoring Committee for the Taiwan Study Group.
  • Maxine Anderson, M.D.’s book, “The Wisdom of Lived Experience: Views from Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, Philosophy and Metaphysics,” was published by Karnac Books.
  • Sarah Matlock, M.S.W. became licensed in social work last year, and was promoted from Mental Health Therapist to Clinical Supervisor at Sea Mar Behavioral Health in March 2016. She will be joining us as a new Clinical Associate this fall.
  • Shierry Nicholsen, Ph.D. presented papers at international conferences in Paris and Oxford, England, as well as at the International Psychoanalytic Association meetings in Boston. She has published papers on psychoanalytic process, psychoanalytic listening and the creative process in the arts, in journals and edited volumes in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Brazil, with more to come in England and the US.
  • Kathryn McCormick, M.A., LMFT, LMP received a promotion to be Manager of Preschool Clinical Services at the Tulalip Tribe, and is working with Dr. Gil Kliman to bring Reflective Network Therapy (RNT) to the Tribe’s Early Learning Academy (with more than 260 children, birth to 5 years old).
  • Cecile Bassen, M.D. presented her paper on, “Good Girls and Wicked Women” at the Oregon Psychiatric Association in Ashland, the “Myths of The Mighty Woman” conference in NYC, and a conference on “Cultural Change and Women” in Washington DC. In addition, she led a discussion of Fred Busch’s keynote paper “Our Vital Profession,” and participated in a panel on “Hope and Disappointment: The importance of psychoanalytic theory and institutions for women,” at the IPA meetings in Boston the summer of 2015. Cecile also participated in a panel as the North American Co-Chair of COWAP (the Committee on Women and Psychoanalysis of the IPA), and helped to organize a conference on, “The Courage to Fight Violence against Women” in Washington DC this past March. As an outgrowth of that conference, she wrote a blog post titled “Why Don’t We Talk about Sexual Assault?” for the APsaA website.
  • Diane Wolman, M.S.W. went through the arduous task of taking the national social work credentialing exam, and has been licensed as a social worker and psychoanalyst in New York State.

We have several continuing education programs planned for this year:

  • Judy Kantrowitz, Ph.D. will be here October 14 and 15, presenting “Endings: Myths of Termination.”
  • Howard Levine, M.D. will present May 19-20, 2017. The title is “The Unconscious Today.”
  • Cecile Bassen, M.D. will be leading a discussion based on the film “Whiplash.”
  • Jonathan Kolb, M.D. will present his paper on “Confessions of a Recovering Ego Psychologist” to us on Friday evening, October 13, 2017.
  • The SPSI Art Salon Committee will be presenting artist Terrell Lozada on December 9, 2016.

More information about these programs will be forthcoming.  Also, you may check the spsi.org calendar for more information.

Finally, you are all invited to the first art opening of the new academic year on September 9th from 6:00-9:00pm. We will be featuring art by Liz Ulrich, Cara Alexander, Karl Krogstad, Trish Lipscomb, Michael Miller, Maaike Bakker, Gina Ballí, Veronique Burke, Rob Janes and Eve Wright. Music will be provided by Sandy Walker, Katie Rene, Jake Powell and Jeff Davies. Admission is free. Drinks and appetizers will be served.

Best regards,
Sue Radant, PhD,