NIP is a not-for-profit academic institution that provides expert graduate and post-graduate training to mental health professionals, and high quality, low cost therapy to individuals, families, couples and children.
NIP is on the forefront of development, theory and practice of contemporary analysis. Our graduates return to the community as highly skilled clinicians and scholars using their education to enrich their work in clinics, hospitals, schools and private practice.
A History of NIP Training
Clemens Loew, PhD
Originally published in the NIPPA Newsletter, April 1990
NIP began at a time when the nation was in turmoil. The Vietnam war was at its peak. There was the sexual revolution and the beginning of women's liberation. The pill was introduced and accepted. People were polarized at home. And I gave a party to watch American astronauts walk on the moon.
There was also a revolution in the social-psychological field: encounter movement, gestalt therapy and Fritz Pearls, transactional analysis and Eric Berne were at the peak of their mountain. All were attempts to enliven the therapeutic situation and to promote behavior change and greater connection to feelings. These active therapies were a response to the growing dissatisfaction with the length, intellectual sterility and remoteness of psychoanalysis that many people experienced.
In the spring of 1968 in the Spartan Postgraduate Center's (PGC) student lounge, I asked Henry Grayson if he was interested in joining me to write a book on a variety of psychotherapies. He told me that coincidentally he wanted to form an institute, which would offer research, training and treatment in several therapeutic modalities. Would I be interested in joining him? Through his personal and training experiences he realized that "talking analysis was often not sufficient to break through character armors. "Furthermore, he said we needed to find out what kind of therapy works for whom and at what moment in a person's life.
Henry had gone to PGC hoping that Lewis Wolberg's diverse knowledge and skill (psychoanalysis, hypnosis and behavior therapy) would provide eclectic or integrative psychotherapy training. But at that time this was not realized at PGC or at any other reputable institute. What Henry hoped for was a place where "all modalities would be explored, learned and practiced under one roof in a highly responsible manner." He felt that "there was no one right way," contrary to the mood of the time which polarized different modalities.
The idea of such an institute was ambitious and in line with my own thinking. So of course I joined. Henry also invited Jim Fosshage, Ken Frank and Hy Lowenheim who were equally interested. Thus the five founding Directors, all students at PGC, began to meet regularly in the Fall of 1969. We met at first in the PGC's office of Paul Stark, then Assistant Dean. This was not a clandestine operation. Lewis Wolber, Founder and director of PGC, as well as Manny Schwartz, brilliant and colorful Dean of Training, not only knew of our plans but encouraged us. They served on our first Professional Advisory Board. Shortly after our inception, Ken Frank introduced us to Paul Olsen who contributed a distinctive literary and philosophical perspective to our group.
At these meetings we debated about how we could turn our philosophy into the reality of a multiple-approach training and treatment program; about what kind of therapeutic conditions are necessary and sufficient for optimal growth; about the nature of motivation; about our understanding of how people function, and about our very personal differences and styles. We always included discussions about baseball, football, personal highs and sorrows. Talks about relationships, pregnancies, childrearing, divorces and marriages seemed to permeate our meetings. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie during our weekly meetings. Personal things often proceeded academic and business matters. Nevertheless, we intended to develop a definitive statement on the clinical and theoretical issues in time for our first training bulletin to be printed within one year. Our efforts remind me of what playwright Tom Stoppard said: "Every exit had an entrance somewhere else." Looking back I think we were like the Boys of Summer – optimistic, naïve, playful and undaunted.
Although we were unable to develop an acceptable theoretical framework, we were very clear on what we did not want for the institute. We all were opposed to rigidity and orthodoxy regardless of the theoretical position. There was no single "true psychoanalysis" for us. There were several legitimate psychoanalytic theories and a variety of other legitimate psychotherapies. We felt that other institutes were not just one dimension, but lacked diversity and openness to exploration. Our name reflected our philosophy: the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. The plural form was constant and loud. We had fun choosing the name. Because our style was flamboyant and grand, it took us a long time. Among the final list of contenders was The International Institute for the Psychotherapies, the American Institute and the Intergalactic Institute. We settled on National.
The first conference, "Three Psychotherapies" (based on a book by the same title which Henry and I wrote/edited, 1975), presented our orientation and put us on the map. It was our kick-off event. At the conference we had analyst Harold Searles, gestalts Irving Pollster and behavior therapist Leo Reyna conduct live patient interviews. A panel and an intensely interested audience compared and reacted to each of the approaches. The conference was filled to capacity with more than 300 professionals. It was a wonderfully exhilarating professional and personal success.
We were encouraged and elated by our efforts to call upon prominent professionals to participate in our then unknown Institute. I think they were drawn to our open philosophy and our truly respectful interest in comparative psychotherapies. We inspired one another with unbridled optimism. Look at the richness and coloration's of the diverse conferences we developed during our first ten years.
- "The Meanings of Madness: with Otto Kernberg, Silvano Arieti, Thomas Szasz and Aron Esterson, and others.
- "Emotional Flooding"
- First Annual Eastern Conference on Transactional Analysis
- "Death and Dying" co-sponsored with Riverside Church
- "Primal Therapy" with Arthur Janoff
- "Healing: Implications for Psychotherapy"
- "Nuclear Realities: From Victim to Activist"
Throughout the conferences we attempted to pursue our original goals: "To collect, evaluate and integrate clinical data from the divergent schools of psychotherapy, and to apply significant findings to practice," and "To contribute to the eventual attainment of a optimal psychotherapeutic outcome." (From an early NIP brochure).
NIP was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1970. We received our New York State Education Charter in 1972. Our first location was Henry Grayson's apartment on 84th and West End. For the first couple of years we met in Henry's living room and rented space on the ground floor containing four clinic rooms and a small classroom. The first class of five students entered 1972. Can you imagine the trust they had in us and in our ideas, to risk four years' time and considerable money in a totally new institute? I think it's remarkable, and we should respect their courage and spirit. The original five deserve to be noted: Richard Bloom, Nadine Eisman, June Goldberg, Don Logan, and Linda Shacknow (decease, 1989). We have had 15 graduating classes, and over 172 students. May of our alumni, faculty, and supervisors have made significant professional contributions. Our board alone has written and edited over 12 books, innumerable articles, chapters and presentations at conferences and on TV. The depth and diversity of our interests are apparent from the titles of the books listed below.
During the first 10 years, NIP's activity and training curriculum were generated by dynamic forces created from our personal relationships, the theoretical and philosophical contrast between us, and an intense curiosity about the variety of therapies. Our shared interests were both academic and personal.
Of course, there was friction. Some of us were cautious and careful, others more adventurous. Some wanted to fly; others wanted to ride a bike – slowly. Some didn't care. In order to turn the friction into a positive force and to learn more directly, we enlisted various therapists to conduct their therapies with us. We experienced gestalt, bioenergetics, dream work, psychodrama, hypnosis, nonverbal modalities and others. Thus we talked to empty chairs, we stood before one another in our briefs, we lay on the floor with our eyes closed, we yelled at each other, we role played our nemesis, we shared dreams and we simply related to each other. The experiences were profound, filled with personal and historical revelations, conflicts among ourselves and new insights. This experiential practice became a tradition and continued through most of the second decade. It was capped by a moving two-year psychoanalytic group experience with Bob Thorne, which ended three years ago.
We had to balance impossible subtleties of six and then eight individual personalities to maintain the integrity of the group for twenty years – a remarkable accomplishment. While certain frictions naturally persisted, no splinter groups developed. No sub-group split off and formed its own institute as often happens. It's extraordinary that after twenty years only one person left the Institute. In September 1989, Paul Olsen resigned. He leaves NIP, he says, with "relative serenity and acceptance of things."
Our graduations serve as a barometer of our changes in form and style. Recent graduations have been held in an auditorium, such as the Cultural Center of New York, with panoramic views north onto Central Park. Many graduates, faculty, students, alumni and guests arrive dressed a notch or two below black tie. The well-organized and planned ceremony is composed of presentations by students, Directors and interesting, invited speakers. The ceremony is a good blend of academic and personal. It feels important, enjoyable and educational. At the cocktail party following the ceremony, the tables are decorated with assorted cheeses, fruits, breads, hors d'oevures; drinks are served by bartenders; and the festive mood of the people is sometimes enveloped by flute music. The entire graduation marks an accomplishment and a beginning.
But I remember the graduations held in Henry's house on Lake Mahopec with nostalgia and fondness. NIP people and guests came in shorts and T-shirts and carrying picnic baskets. Sneakers were a must because of the football game. The ceremony was held on the lawn in front of the magnificent old Tudor house. We had mikes and portable speakers set on the lawn. People sat on the lawn while Directors stood making speeches, both serious and very funny. After the ceremony and awarding the certificates, we eagerly prepared for the big football game. Directors and some faculty took on students and other faculty. This was the time when Ken caught my pass in the end zone and then spiked the ball – illegally. Students couldn't stop the pass but they all piled on top of him with glee in their eyes. This was a time when Doug, Henry's son, Mark, chased my daughter, Jennifer, then age 8, through the woods and bushes. And when I complained to Jim about it, he merely shrugged his shoulders and put a grin on his face. We drank beer and soda and played volleyball by the water. Hy was in charge of the grill. We ate good food indoors or outdoors depending on the food. There was much laughter, many jokes and confidential talks. At dusk some went home, others stayed to listen to music inside the house and clean up.
The class of 1982 helped to create the last of the graduations in this genre. The ceremony was held in Fraunces Tavern, a historic landmark in downtown New York. The class produced an original, witty and fun-filled musical show called "Goodbye Columbus Circle. "The graduate all had red firechiefs hats and roasted Directors, faculty and supervisors. Here is a sample from the script, the opening song:
This is our time to shine
We finally made it
Our graduation year is finally here
We want to share with you
What we've been going through
This has been the start of something
We know our Freud devoid of any
We do our Klein so fine
Give us a hand
We can hurl the Perls
We even mimic Sarles
Our training here is really
We think we learned Karnberg
And some Kohutian
Our education here is coming clear
We work empathetically
For analytic fees
Our treatment is our own peculiar
Our training here's the start of
NIP's had part in something
NIP's the start of something grand!
At the start of the second ten years, major changes and shifts began to take place. First, we had gradually and successfully established an important place in the metropolitan area as a training institute and clinic. We grew in size and reputation. Success somehow demanded that we "take ourselves more seriously." These attitudes began to flow into our casual boardroom meetings, and were not entirely welcome.
Secondly, we heard loud noises about the Board being a "boys club." It is time to add women, " the voices demanded. So we focused on dealing with the uneasy feelings and trepidation's about disturbing the cohesiveness of a group that had successfully lived together for over ten years. Some concerns were related to any new members (men or women), but some specifically to women, whose presence, we knew, would change the climate of the group.
Expanding the Board ofDirectors became an opportunity to get new talents. We interviewed several women and were fortunate to have two highly respected, talented professionals join the board in 1981: Sandy Shapiro, an NIP graduate and psychology professor at CUNY, and Margaret Black, a psychoanalyst on the faculty of PGC. We welcomed (some of us with fingers crossed under the table) their fresh presence which strengthened the Board. Sandy and Margaret brought contributions to the Board from distinct philosophical and academic vistas. Our burden was lightened by their willingness to share mounting responsibilities and to initiate vital new programs and projects.
Thirdly, while NIP was solvent, it became too big for the Board alone to handle all of the fiduciary responsibilities. We had no outside help and no trustees. For many of the early years, despite rumors of Directors; salaries (there never have been any), each of the original directors made substantial monthly contributions to keep NIP afloat. Then we were in the black for several years, but by 1980 we were getting red. We needed help and in 1982 we employed Aileen Sirey as Executive Director. Within two years Aileen put us in the black. NIP became more organized and efficient. Computers appeared. We developed into one of the few non-profit institutesthatfloat entirely on their own steam without any outside financial support. Together with Aileen we plan to develop additional support systems. We need funds to further enhance our training programs, and to develop valuable projects and interesting research.
Fourth, we needed further assistance in the administration of the Institute. Merrill Schneiderman, who was the first appointee to the Administrative Board, recalls our mood accurately: "You were tired and overwhelmed and wanted help, and you wanted to develop a sense of continuity for yourselves." So in 1985 the Administrative Board was established and Stan Harrison and Pam Feldman were appointed. They were later joined by Diane Greene, Barbara Robinson and Roberta Hufnagel. This board not only reduced our burden but invigorated the Institute. Each member assumed a special role and essential responsibilities. NIP students profit immeasurably because of these board members' attention and care to all kinds of training issues, pragmatic and theoretical.
Fifth, students themselves exerted a powerful influence on the direction of training. Many were confused and anxious in attempting to integrate what seemed to them a plethora of therapeutic schools. There was no structure or system within which they could make sense of the complexities of the many modalities. The students began to push for the greater uniformity and cohesiveness now found in the psychoanalytic paradigms offered at NIP.
To demonstrate the degree of change in our theoretical/clinical interests, look at a past copy of the "Professional Advisory Board", which existed through most of the first ten-year period. Note the span of therapies. Some have receded from the limelight.
It is this broad field of psychotherapies, which we had originally tried to integrate into one overall theoretical framework. The three polygon logo, illustrated below, appeared on our early brochures and represented our interests until about 1980. The polygons intersect, overlap and flow in an interchanging pattern. We hoped the divergent therapies would do the same.
To us, the importance of the major schools of psychotherapy was that each provided, with varying degrees of dynamism and depth, different fruitful concepts of psychological functioning and descriptive therapeutic procedures. Some paradigms (e.g. cognitive-behavior therapy) provided precise descriptions for specific problems. Others were more subtle. Complex and intuitive in their attitude and approach. Our interest was to attempt to formulate, a primitive level at least, an abstract theory that served to integrate the various conceptualizations and their related therapeutic strategies. We hoped that this synthetic theoretical construct could yield systems or formulations for the diagnosis of and therapeutic approach to a variety of problems and situations. We were not exclusively interested in a comparative approach to the diverse schools. Rather, we were trying to sort out a conceptual-clinical integrative model, providing formulations that would produce optimal understanding arid therapeutic change for people with differing personality constellations at various points in their lives.
After years of struggle, some of us realized that what the students sensed was accurate: different schools of psychotherapy and psychanalytic theory originated from markedly divergent philosophical, developmental and methodological assumptions. And while it may be possible to find common threads and to clarify differences, it was and continues to be a herculean (or even sisyphean) task to integrate them all into a unified structure. No wonder the students were confused and overwhelmed.
Where is NIP now in its theoretical position as a result of all of those forces and efforts? Our primary training program has moved the boundaries of teaching from a wide array of psychotherapies to a narrower range of psychoanalytic paradigms. We offer intensive comparative psychoanalytic study in theory, technique and development. This is still a big achievement given the diverse development, philosophical and clinical differences among the various psychoanalytic schools. Within this boundary, object relations and self psychology hold the high ground.
The original openness to other schools has been retained in the form of elective, non-analytic courses offered in the third and fourth years of study. These include many forms of therapy-hypnotherapy, biofeedback couples, group and family. Our crucial tradition of a humanistic attitude and a flexible approach above and beyond any particular theoretical dictate is strongly maintained. And there is still no one "true psychoanalysis."
As expected, there exist among the seven Directors philosophical and theoretical variations from NIP's mainstream position. As with any analyst/therapist, each one coalesces in an approach that is both congruent with one's intellectual interest and temperament and responsive to his/her philosophical view and special historical needs. I can best describe our diversity by visualizing all significant therapies arranged along a continuum like radio frequency bands. In this way, a therapist scans, searches and selects from his/her broad fund of conceptual/clinical bands the model that provides the optimal therapeutic experience for the patient at a particular period of time.
Of course this search is a subtle and delicate process complicated by the fact that as people listen to different frequencies they hear the music of each model differently. Moreover, most models provide a guiding function rather than a specific prescription. Some Directors function along a single psychoanalytic band because they feel that other therapeutic models (even those within psychoanalysis) are incompatible. Consequently, they feel the original NIP vision function on a wider range, shifting between two or more psychoanalytic frequencies depending on patients' needs and personality structure.
Still others practice along an even wider band range, shifting between psychoanalysis and other modalities (e.g. cognitive-behavioral, hypnosis) again depending on a patient's needs, expectations and the nature of therapeutic relationship. The therapeutic shifts may occur not only between different patients but also over time, within the ongoing process of the same patient. Accordingly, one Director says, "I have carried over the torch of integration on my own-in my own way." Ultimately, however, in each of us there hasdeveloped a cumulative wisdom synthesized from myriad experiences about how to understand and best provide something special to the person who turns to us for help.