Dr. Polkinhorn's Statement as Incoming SDPC President


It is with great pleasure that I begin my tenure as president of the San Diego Psychoanalytic Center. My predecessors in this position have done much to build and stabilize our organization, and it is my goal, to the best of my abilities, to maintain and extend their valuable contributions. Not only they but also others have given of their time, financial donations, experience, and wisdom. I remember when I first became affiliated with the then Institute it was to attend a year-long series of seminars designed to introduce clinicians to psychoanalytic thinking, similar to our current Fellowship program. I then went on to do a year in the psychotherapy program before moving into the adult analytic training program. One of the things that made a strong impression on me during those years was that all the faculty and committee members were contributing their time because they saw the great value of psychoanalytic thinking for clinical practice and wanted to do all they could to see that it flourished in our area.

Psychoanalysis is based in a theory of human development characterized by phases of challenge from the external and internal worlds that lay the groundwork for growth and change. The San Diego Psychoanalytic Center is a small, nimble organization where students, candidates, and faculty regularly interact with one another in exploring the boundaries of knowledge in our field, always with a focus on improving clinical practice. The Center is located in a beautiful suite of classrooms and offices that house an excellent, focused library and the Ralph R. Greenson Memorial Archive. We are fortunate enough to be centrally located in one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world. Our outstanding, highly accomplished faculty members are dedicated to working closely with those in their charge both in the classroom and in the many social settings that support our main academic pursuits. Our students, candidates, and Fellows tend to be highly motivated and gifted mental-health professionals who develop successful practices and become leaders in their various professional settings.

Clearly we have much to be proud about. As Lee Jaffe mentioned at our recent graduation ceremony:

Over the past 5 years, we graduated 23 psychoanalytic candidates. Over the past 5 years, we graduated 22 psychotherapy students. To give you an idea of how huge these numbers are: Consider … over the previous three 5-year periods, we had an average of 8 analytic graduates and 6 psychotherapy graduates. For 5 years the Fellowship program has continued to thrive, under the leadership of Sonya Hintz, with 15 Fellows enrolled each academic year. During this next academic year, we’ll have a first-year class of at least 6 candidates, and a third-year class of 8. This will be the first time we’ve had two ongoing classes simultaneously in over 5 years.

At the same time, we face daunting challenges. In order to reverse recent years’ deficits, with the generous support of a matching grant from Daniel Yankelovich, we have established an endowment. Members of our Outreach and Development committees and others are preparing longer-range plans for expanding our membership and fund-raising so that we can concentrate on what we do best: training, mentoring, and support of psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists.

In summary, the San Diego Psychoanalytic Center is:

  • Intensively interactive with small classes and gifted instructors.
  • Graduate-only, so that instructors are completely dedicated to their students as colleagues in the mental-health field.
  • Transdisciplinary, so that students can pursue their research or professional development in the specific, individual ways they wish.
  • Applied, so that research and professional training will make a difference. 
  • Diverse, representing a commitment to be a community that embodies who we are as a nation and a world.

The result, we believe, is that we provide an exceptional educational experience to be found nowhere else in the area. Our connection to the history of our discipline, along with the many opportunities we have for exposure to the latest thinking in our field, nurtures our professional identities and keeps us engaged as clinicians and thinkers. We are encouraging 100% participation at whatever level you can assist—financial donations, teaching, committee service.

Harry Polkinhorn, Ph.D.