History of the Program

Bernard N. Kalinkowitz, Founder & Director (1961-1992)

Revised (November 2011) by Lewis Aron, Director (1998-present)

When the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Intensive Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (Postdoc) was introduced in 1961, The New York Times - among other city newspapers - publicized  it as a training program of merit, and mentioned our low-cost clinic as a needed service to the community.  Dr. Bernard N. Kalinkowitz, Coordinator of Graduate Training in Clinical Psychology at NYU, was appointed as acting director of the new Program.  We were the first university-based psychology program for training psychoanalysts and intensive psychotherapists, and we have since graduated the greatest number of psychologist-psychoanalysts of any program in the country.  In time, Postdoc became a national model for training psychologist-psychoanalysts.

The program was announced by James M. Hester (Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Science and later President of the University) who worked closely with Dr. Bernard N. Kalinkowitz (affectionately known by all as "Bernie").  James Hester was also responsible for inviting Bob Holt and George Klein from Topeka, Kansas to launch the Research Center for Mental Health at NYU, and he later brought David Rapaport as a visiting scholar.  In addition, he worked closely with Bernie to revise the state licensing laws for psychology so as to authorize psychologists for the independent practice of psychotherapy.

As far back as 1952, Bernie, together with Avrum Ben-Avi and Erwin Singer, had put before New York University a proposal for a postdoctoral specialization program. At the time, they were matriculants at the William Alanson White Institute. While appreciative of the good training they were receiving, as psychologists they felt troubled that the psychiatrists in their classes were to receive certificates as trained psychoanalysts while they were to receive certificates attesting to the fact that they had completed courses in clinical psychology (years after they had been awarded Ph.D.s), despite the fact that their training was identical.  Furthermore, they were just three of a privileged few who were permitted to receive such training; too many fellow psychologist colleagues could not gain admission.  If the University allowed them to develop a training program within the Department of Psychology, they hoped that they could admit many more psychologists and not have to disguise the fact that they were being trained as psychoanalysts. (A decade or so later, the W. A. White Institute began to offer identical certificates to members of both professions and offered admission to a much wider number of psychologists.)  The 1952 proposal, however, was premature; the University was not prepared to assume the financial and academic responsibility at that time.

In 1957, Bernie, who had by then become the Coordinator of the NYU Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, revived the idea with an additional agenda. Stuart Cook, at that time Chair of the Psychology Department, Rollo May, Albert Thompson, Herbert Zucker, and Gordon Derner (who soon after would begin the Adelphi Postdoc modeled on NYU’s Postdoctoral program), along with Bernie, were deeply involved in the effort to pass the Certification law for psychologists that was finally approved by the New York State legislature in 1957.  But the sponsor of the law, the New York State Department of Education, quickly pointed out that none of the doctoral programs in New York (including NYU's) was willing to state that their Ph.D.s were trained for the independent practice of psychotherapy.

By the early 1960s there were a few psychoanalytic training programs run by psychiatrists that accepted a token number of psychologists.  These psychologists, however, either had to sign a statement, after going through a "waiver process," that they were only there to learn research and would not practice psychoanalysis (e.g., The New York Psychoanalytic Institute) or, as at the W. A. White Institute, they received certificates that they had finished advanced courses in clinical psychology, with no mention of psychoanalysis, though the training was identical for psychiatrists and psychologists.  In establishing the Postdoctoral Program, Bernie created a center for psychoanalysis run by and for psychologists, a "home" for psychologists interested in advanced training in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, and the University made a statement to the New York State Department of Education that psychologists now received training which qualified them for the independent practice of psychotherapy.

Today, and certainly in New York City, there is no particular need for more access to psychoanalytic training for psychologists.  The situation changed radically for psychologists only after the establishment of the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association in 1979, and especially following the settlement in 1988 of "The Psychoanalytic Lawsuit" (a Federal Anti-trust Class Action lawsuit brought about by four psychologist plaintiffs against the American Psychoanalytic Association [APsaA], the International Psychoanalytic Association and two institutes that were affiliated with these associations).  Finally it was only in 1991 that the APsaA modified its by-laws to eliminate its "waiver process" for full clinical psychoanalytic training for doctoral level psychologists and social workers. Thus, while we at New York University were pioneers, many others have followed and our position is not a unique one in the above two aspects.

There was, however, a still more fundamental reason to establish the Postdoctoral Program within a University setting.  In the few medically run training programs that had accepted psychologists even under the restrictive circumstances described before, psychoanalysis was offered as a single paradigm and training was much too narrow.  Most of them trained in the Freudian tradition, but even the exceptions followed a single path.  The New York Psychoanalytic Institute taught the Freudian approach; the American Institute limited itself to teachings of Horney (with the proper obeisance to Freud), and the W. A. White Institute stressed the teachings of Sullivan and Fromm - the Interpersonal approach.  Rarely were in-depth discussions of comparative approaches offered.  By contrast, from its beginning our Program emphasized pluralism and dialogue.

A university, with its long tradition of open discussion among a diversity of ideas, was the ideal setting for an in-depth investigation of the assumptions and premises of the varying orientations.  In line with the academic tradition and the empiric open-minded approach of psychology, in a university we could analyze the contrasting metapsychological assumptions of the differing theories, compare such clinical constructs as transference, countertransference, and resistance, and contrast the different therapeutic approaches and the rationale for the differing "techniques."

Inasmuch as we were initiating a new program, we had a golden opportunity to think through our aims, requirements, and curriculum.  Because we were university-based and housed in a psychology department, we did not have to mimic criteria established by the medical training programs which, by and large, took candidates with no psychological backgrounds.  We did not have to please a central accrediting body (the American Psychoanalytic Association) - a group which historically opposed the training of psychologists as psychoanalysts and which periodically occasioned rifts in the developing profession by threatening to expel members, e.g., Erich Fromm and Karen Horney, who did not accept certain metapsychological assumptions. Unlike the great majority of training institutions, we did not have to limit ourselves to one particular view of psychoanalytic theory; in fact our plan was to house, under one roof, differing paradigms of psychoanalysis. Under the auspices of a major university, our program readily fit into the long tradition of open discussion among a diversity of views, and around a certain catholicity of approach.   A number of us believed that many of the training institutes had become too parochial, too wedded to metapsychologies that tended to remain unchallenged because the fresh supply of teachers and supervisors came only from among their graduates.  Thus we would select the "best" faculty that we could recruit to provide the opportunity for students and faculty alike to re-examine the host of premises, theories, "knowledge" and data, and to subject these to a healthy skepticism and intensive examination.

Our planning committee consisted of representatives from the W. A. White Institute, namely, Avrum Ben-Avi, Harry J. Bone, Erich Fromm, Rollo May, Ernest Schachtel, and Herbert Zucker; George Kaufer from the Postgraduate Center; and representing the Freudian point of view Esther Menaker, George Klein and William Menaker.  Esther Menaker who studied in Vienna with Anna Freud, taught one of the first classes.  Shortly after our beginning we added a number of medical-analysts, namely, Arthur Arkin, Leopold Bellak, Emmanuel Ghent, Edwin Kasin, Saul Miller, Chaim Shatan, and Edward S. Tauber.  Other psychologists who were with us from almost the beginning were Sabert Basescu, Ruth-Jean Eisenbud, Kenneth Fisher, Rosalind Gould and Erwin Singer.  Thus the criteria for admission and graduation, as well as the nature of the curriculum, were debated for almost six months by a most serious and knowledgeable group of psychologists-analysts.

While many institutes were defining sharp and fine distinctions between psychoanalysis and intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy, we eschewed such activities.  There was to be no monopoly on psychoanalytic "truth," no exclusive definition as to what constituted psychoanalysis.  Teachers would be free to present their own outlook.  Students were to be free to take courses reflecting differing points of view and, in fact, were encouraged to do so.  It was also considered desirable for students to have supervisory experience with faculty of diverse approaches.  Students were left free to select courses as well as the sequence in which they were taken.  We did not want to pre-empt judgment as to what constituted "the best" training program.  Clearly the goal was to set up a training program in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, but it was not to be modeled after a traditional psychoanalytic institute.   We did agree, of course, with the primary importance of the personal analysis, supervision, and instruction in theory, research, and practice - we were not nihilistic.  However, we were trying to set up an improved atmosphere for searching thought and discussion and, ultimately, a more meaningful set of standards for evaluating completion of training than the traditional quantitative ones.

It was in our curriculum that we best expressed the function of a university, for our courses represented offerings in Freudian, Sullivanian, and Frommian traditions, as well as subjects that cut across all sectarian points of view, such as psychoanalytic research and "female psychology." (In the early years of the program, the only required course was a two-semester sequence on the methodology of psychoanalytic research that was expected to lead to a research paper).  The Program’s first graduate was Dr. Martin Nass who received his certificate in 1965.  Since Marty was the only one graduating, Bernie asked him to wait a year and graduate with others, but in 1966 there were still no other graduates and so Bernie relented and there was a graduation for one graduate – done in grand style!  Marty then founded and was the first president of The Psychoanalytic Society, the organization of our graduates.

By 1966 and through the early 1970s, responding to the complaints and suggestions that emerged from candidates during the program’s first decade, two separate educational tracks or orientations emerged: the Freudian track and the Interpersonal-Humanistic track.  Later our course offerings expanded to include British Object Relations theory, Self Psychology and new currents in psychoanalytic thought.  Cutting-edge courses in gender and sexuality proliferated in the 1980s.  A radical inquiry into gender and sexuality opened up questions of gender and sexuality within psychoanalysis and culture as they had never been discussed before.  In 1991, the first feminist course on gender was taught at Postdoc by Jessica Benjamin.  In 1994, the first feminist course on sexuality was taught at Postdoc by Muriel Dimen.  In 1998, the first GLBT and psychoanalysis course was taught by Ann D’Ercole.

In 1988, the Relational track was founded in an attempt to provide a home for what was quickly emerging as an important new paradigm in contemporary psychoanalysis.  The Relational Track was originally sponsored by 5 faculty members: Emanuel Ghent, Stephen Mitchell, Bernie Friedland, Philip Bromberg, and Jim Fosshage.  In addition, there has always been an Independent track representing a pluralistic, "non-aligned" educational philosophy.

It was always a great disappointment to Bernie that the program became organized around distinct tracks.  He believed it would have been more fruitful if dialogues among psychoanalysts with differing points of view led to constructive evaluations of varying metapsychologies and methods of treatment.  In recent years, a great effort has been made to increase cooperation, dialogue and debate among the tracks in line with Bernie’s vision, while maintaining independent organizational structures to insure that each orientation can represent and further develop psychoanalysis in accordance with its own viewpoint.

It has remained a matter of principle that students were never to be required to declare allegiance to one or another point of view but to be free to explore without prejudice the various offerings in the program as a whole.

We fully anticipated that by the time candidates received their certificates they would have developed a systematic theory, a therapeutic approach derived from their theory, and, hopefully, a respect for points of view differing from their own.  It was precisely because we agreed with the primary importance of the candidates' personal analysis that we protected that experience by accepting as personal analysts graduates of other training institutes who have been in practice five years after graduation.  In contrast to most other programs, we do not designate "training analysts," so candidates may choose analysts from among our graduates or from the graduates of other institutes.  The ultimate test of the success of any analysis (for training purposes) is to determine how well the candidate works with her or his patients, as judged by the supervisors and faculty.  Certificates are awarded, not for time served in supervision or analysis or in classrooms, but for assessed readiness to function independently as psychologist-psychoanalysts.  Also, in the spirit of the university we have always followed the principle of choosing faculty by recruiting the best people available for the position rather than based on where they trained and graduated.

Another important institutional innovation followed from a series of "Town Meetings" under Bernie’s leadership.  The Faculty, in 1971, established a Senate constituted by elected candidates, graduates, and faculty to serve as the Program’s governing body.  Under the leadership of the Director, the Senate deliberates about educational policy, faculty selection, and course approval.  One of the unique features of the Postdoctoral Program has thus been its truly democratic and participatory nature. Bernie always maintained an open door and open ear to candidates, faculty and graduates.  He was quick to respond to these groups, and it was not surprising that he established a forum for candidates of color to express their experiences and concerns regarding the program.  The Multi-cultural and Multi-ethnic Psychoanalytic Committee consisting of Rafael Javier, Annie Lee Jones, Kirkland Vaughns, Rose Marie Foster Perez, Jackie Lopez and Dolores Morris began meeting with Bernie on a regular basis in the late seventies and early eighties until after his death (in 1992) when Ruth Lesser and Rose Marie Foster Perez became co-chairs.  By 1987 the discussion focused on three areas: the increase of minority representation in the Postdoctoral community; sensitivity to racial and ethnic issues; and finally, an increase in acceptance and utilization of psychoanalysis as a treatment option by the minority community.           

A wonderful example of the kind of interdisciplinary activities undertaken by the program featured our teaming up with the Institute of African-American Affairs to design and host a series of meetings on race, including a major conference.  The year-and-a-half-long collaboration culminated in six workshops and was made possible by $140,000 in grants, including $117,000 from the Ford Foundation and the rest from the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation, the Yip Harburg Foundation, the Eugene Garfield Foundation and the NYU Humanities Council.  Spearheading the collaboration were Neil Altman, Ph.D., an associate clinical professor at Postdoc, and Adelbert Jenkins, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and affiliate faculty member of the Africana studies program at NYU.  In 2002, a conference on psychoanalysis, social policy and the sociocultural meaning of race attracted about 150 faculty members and students from a range of disciplines who gathered to discuss unconscious racism.  These activities were featured in an article in the APA Monitor in April, 2004.  Soon after, Marsha Levy Warren and Neil Altman began teaching a class on Psychoanalysis and Race.  The Committee on Ethnicity, Race, Class, Culture, and Language (CERCCL) is the current iteration of the earlier diversity committee.  In whatever CERCCL undertakes, its members hope to avoid a situation in which the awareness of diversity issues gets segregated into a committee. The goal is to encourage awareness of cultural diversity throughout the Postdoctoral Program.  CERCCL wants all members of the community to share in the responsibility for consciousness-raising on these matters. 

In 1993, Perspectives on Homosexuality: An Open Dialogue, perhaps the first psychoanalytic conference of its kind, was held at Postdoc.  The organizers were two candidates, Ronnie Lesser and Tom Domenici, and the conference widely acclaimed as groundbreaking.  The conference resulted in the publishing of Disorienting Sexualities, a collection of essays from the conference that combined a feminist critique with gay and lesbian scholarship, postmodernism and psychoanalysis. Numerous scholarly and interdisciplinary seminars, courses, and conferences are now an ongoing part of Postdoc life, featuring members of the NYU Postdoc community.

Originally organized by our first graduate, Marty Nass, along with other graduates of the late 1960s, The Psychoanalytic Society of the Postdoctoral Program, is a professional, scientific, and educational association run by and for the graduates, faculty, and supervisors of the Postdoctoral Program.  The Society is independently incorporated and sponsors various activities that serve its membership, the overall Postdoc community, the professional community at large, and the public.  These activities include: a biennial local conference; a distinguished lecture series; small group meetings and workshops with senior analysts; biannual international conferences; a referral service; and membership meetings.  It also founded the Bernard N. Kalinkowitz Scholarship fund in 1995 with the Multi-cultural, Multi-ethnic Committee.

On November 4, 1992, Professor Bernard "Bernie" Kalinkowitz died at age 77.  Bernie was a pioneer and a visionary.  He had served as Coordinator of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program from 1954 to 1975 and as founder and Director of the Postdoctoral Program from 1961 to 1992.  Bernie was one of the leaders in the battle to secure the right to practice independently as a psychologist. He was a pioneer in the field of clinical psychology and under his leadership the NYU Clinical Program became the premier program in the country. He played a leadership role in the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association where he contributed to the beginnings of Section V, struggled to make a home for psychologist-psychoanalysts of varying theoretical orientations, and played an active role in establishing the Diplomate in Psychoanalysis.  In 1981, New York University bestowed on him its Great Teacher Award and in 1988 Division 39 awarded him the Distinguished Service Award for Unique Contribution to Psychoanalytic Training for Psychologists.  Perhaps his greatest achievement, however, was the establishment of the NYU Postdoctoral Program as a psychoanalytic institution housed in a University Graduate School of Arts and Science, training high-level, licensed psychologists, and dedicated to academic freedom, pluralism, and diversity, as well as respect for students as adult colleagues and fellow scholars.

Following Bernie’s death, the Postdoctoral program went through a long period of mourning (his memorial service was attended by more than 800 colleagues, students, friends, patients, and relatives).  Dr. Ruth Lesser, who had been a close friend and colleague of Bernie and who had served since 1972 as the Director of the Postdoctoral Clinic, took over as acting director while continuing to serve as Clinic Director. Ruth had been a student in the first class (entering in 1954) of Bernie’s Clinical Psychology Program.  For four years the Program was then run by a committee of co-directors, first consisting of Sabert Basescu, Adrienne Harris, Ben Lapkin, and Joyce Steingart, and later by Alvin Atkins, Robert Fiore, Michael Varga, and David Wolitzky.  Administration of the Program by a committee proved unfeasible and it was determined that a search should be conducted for a single program director.

In January of 1998, after a search committee and the Senate had worked for several years to determine the future direction of the program, Dean Philip Furmanski, Dean of Arts and Science, accepted the Program’s recommendation and appointed Lewis Aron as the new Director of the Postdoctoral Program.  Lew, a graduate of the Postdoctoral Program, had been president of the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association.  He is a leading innovator of relational psychoanalysis, the founding president of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP), a scholar of psychoanalytic history, an active figure in contemporary psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic education, and the founding president of the Division of Psychologist-Psychoanalysts of the New York Psychological Association (NYSPA).  In 2006, Lew was honored as the recipient of the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) Leadership Award "in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the profession of psychoanalysis."

Under Lew’s direction, and with the strong support of Dean Catharine R. Stimpson and Associate Dean T. James Matthews, the Program became better integrated with the graduate school and with the university as a whole, offering colloquia, conferences and courses with other departments of the graduate school.  An important feature of Lew’s administration has been attracting outside funding for academic scholarships.  The Rosetta W. Harris Lead Charitable Trust and the Irving Harris Foundation have awarded annual grants to the Postdoctoral Program.  The Fellowship supports candidates during the training process and enhances the provision of low-cost treatment to the community. An additional fellowship is supported by funds generously bequeathed by the late Dr. Benjamin Wolstein for the financial assistance of outstanding candidates with demonstrated need as well as commitment to psychoanalytic research, scholarship and practice.  In the spring of 2007, two new grants were generously donated by anonymous donors for the purpose of encouraging and supporting increased diversity in the Program.  The new Diversity Fellowships are intended to support members of minority groups underrepresented in the psychoanalytic profession, and who will serve as role models for young people in populations that are underserved by the mental health field.  We are also grateful for the generous support of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, which has provided matching grants helping students with tuition expenses.

The Postdoctoral Program has achieved enormous stature for its innovative training of psychologist-psychoanalysts.  We have by now graduated more than 700 psychologist-psychoanalysts, more than any other institution in the country.  Each semester we offer 15-20 courses from which candidates select their curriculum.  The number of new articles, presentations, and books published each year by members of the Postdoctoral community is awesome.  Its faculty is internationally recognized as among the leading contributors to psychoanalytic theory and practice in the world.

In 2004, the Program mourned the loss of Dr. Ruth M. Lesser, a senior faculty member, founder of the program’s interpersonal track, and director of our Postdoctoral Clinic who died at the age of 80, having been at NYU for 40 years.  A prominent adherent of the American cultural school of psychoanalysis, she was strongly influenced by both Clara Thompson's rethinking of the fundamental tenets of psychoanalysis and Erich Fromm's extension of psychoanalysis into sociopolitical realms. Dr. Lesser was a compassionate as well as passionate analyst, an outstanding teacher, supervisor and mentor, and a leader in the psychoanalytic community.  Her passion, integrity, honesty and zest for life are missed by all who had the privilege of working with her and knowing her.

In December 2004, Spyros Orfanos was named director of the Postdoctoral Program Clinic.  Spyros has been president of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association and was president of the Academy of Psychoanalysis of the American Board of Professional Psychology.  By the fall of 2006, Spyros launched an innovative clinical externship program, which immediately sparked tremendous excitement and has attracted the highest quality graduate students.

With the turn of the century our Program has increasingly taken advantage of the new internet technologies to facilitate communication both for scholarly and educational purposes and to strengthen our sense of community.  Postdoc’s listserv is an exciting, fast-paced medium for all kinds of professional communication, and our website has become a vehicle for the dissemination of information about our Program’s activities.

2010 brought two significant events in the history of Postdoc.  First, with a grant from the NYU Humanities Initiative, Lew fulfilled a long sought-after goal of launching an ongoing interdisciplinary study group on reading Freud with faculty and students from across departments in the university.  This ongoing seminar positioned Postdoc to lead in Freud Studies but also to learn from our esteemed academic colleagues. 

Within the Postdoc Program, a major 2010 change involved reconstituting our Senate, the group responsible for Postdoc policy and governance.  The old Senate (established in 1971) voted for major changes in its own structure that would better reflect the times.  The new Senate, chaired by the director (who only votes to break a tie), now consists of 13 faculty members (four from the Executive Committee, eight track chairs, and the clinic director); eight students; five graduates including one representing the Psychoanalytic Society.  So there are a total of 26 senators with half coming from the faculty and half from students and graduates.  Having our leadership, the Executive Committee and Track Chairs, involved in all Senate deliberations has proved remarkably efficient.  The transition in our governance was made democratically with input from all segments of the community and the Postdoc Senate continues to be a representative body, functioning with transparency, and responsible for all program policy.

This brief history of the Postdoctoral Program may give the misleading impression that the Golden Age of the Postdoctoral Program lies in the past--the "good old days."  Many factors, however, indicate that the Golden Days of Postdoc lie ahead!  In the years ahead, we should have the opportunity to develop and grow, to work more closely with other schools and departments within the University, to increase cooperation among our diverse faculties, to play a leading role in the promotion of psychoanalytic research, to increase diversity in psychoanalysis, and to develop and expand the Postdoctoral Clinic.

The Postdoctoral Program is an integral part of New York University, a pre-eminent national and international research institution and the largest private university in the country.  The original purpose of the founders of NYU was to serve a diverse population.  NYU is both an urban university, with close ties to the city, as well as a global university with centers around the world.  We at Postdoc continue the NYU tradition by emphasizing innovation and pluralism, by recruiting a diverse group of students as our future psychoanalysts, by maintaining a Postdoctoral Clinic that serves the needs of the community and the educational needs of our candidates, and by leading the way to the future growth of psychoanalytic research, theory, practice, and education at the turn of the century.

Bernie wanted this to be a brief history and realized that he had gone much beyond the limit he had intended. "There was much in the history that's been omitted such as Erich Fromm serving bagels in the Seminar he taught and other more serious anecdotes.  But that's for another time," he wrote, "when we share reminiscences with others who were with us from the beginning." As our program grows older, we rely more on written than on oral history.  We strive, however, to hold onto those values upon which the program was founded.

With the turn of the century our Program has increasingly taken advantage of the new internet technologies to facilitate communication both for scholarly and educational purposes, and to strengthen our sense of community.  Postdoc’s listserv is an exciting, fast-paced medium for all kinds of professional communication, and our website has become a vehicle for the dissemination of information about our Program’s activities. Under the direction of Ricardo Rieppi, a Postdoc candidate and our Social Media Coordinator, we have created a strong presence in cyberspace through our social media pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Through social media we have become significantly more engaging and interactive with the general public, as well as people who may be interested in psychoanalysis and our psychoanalytic training program.

2011-2012 was our 50th anniversary.  It was celebrated with scholarly, professional, and social events.  A major clinical conference, Postdoc at 50: Imagining the Future featured our candidates, graduates, and faculty, the morning clinical discussion was later published in the journal, Psychoanalytic Dialogues.

Welcome to the NYU Postdoctoral Community!

Obituary Bernard Kalinkowitz, Psychology Expert, 77, New York Times

Founding of the Program, New York Times [pdf]