In the fall of 1985, during a series of informal lunches with colleagues, Dr. Ephraim Biblow shared his vision of an institute that prioritized theoretical diversity along with respect for each candidate’s experience. By year’s end he had invited Drs. Anna Leifer, George Whitson, and Bruce Hammer to launch the new institute.
In 1986 they met in Ephraim Biblow’s Hicksville office every other Thursday, and shared their ideas about psychoanalysis and the therapeutic experience, ultimately searching for mutually held beliefs about the educational environment they wanted to create.
From 1986-88 they incorporated as a not-for-profit and, guided by a rather challenging list of state requirements, completed a provisional chartering process for the Education Department of the State of New York. As part of this effort they obtained letters from leaders in the professional services community, putting forth the case that an additional training institute such as SIPP was needed and would benefit the Long Island community. They met with directors of graduate training programs in psychiatric nursing, psychology, and social work to learn what their constituents were looking for in postgraduate education. Their first curriculum was born on little pieces of paper tacked onto a peg board that was stored in Ephraim’s closet.
They engaged in endless debates to insure that their decisions were both professionally solid and pointedly aligned with the culture they were determined to achieve. No decision was too small to warrant hours of argument. For example, they struggled for a few weeks with deciding whether Alfred Adler needed a course of his own. Of course, other issues besides curriculum were being worked out in the process of their becoming a team.
On a summer day in August 1987, the four of them rented a small conference room in Riverhead and hammered out SIPP’s first mission statement in a four-hour meeting. They called it “Our Philosophy” and it began:
The Suffolk Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis offers a comprehensive program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis reflective of the broad range of schools of analytic theory and technique. In addition to investigating the different approaches from both conceptual and historical perspectives, the program stresses the unifying principles of psychoanalytic process, such as unconscious process, transference, countertransference, and resistance, which define it as a therapeutic discipline.
The program is constructed with the goal of encouraging each candidate to discover and develop his or her professional-therapeutic identity and style during intensive participation in the four-year program consisting of course work, supervision, and personal analysis. Candidates are expected to develop their own blending of psychoanalytic knowledge within the context of their own experience in their case work and personal analysis.
This ideology remained the core guiding principles of SIPP throughout the years.
In the spring of 1988 the “founding four” interviewed prospective faculty. By far the most important and exciting step was to bring the first sixteen faculty members into their effort.
On October 21, 1988 the original SIPP faculty members met for the first time on Bruce Hammer's back deck. They immediately went to work creating SIPP’s first committees and developing operating procedures for each committee. During this meeting the Institute’s well-known “familial” atmosphere was established. In planning for the first SIPP Fall conference, for example, it was decided that:
On October 13, 1989, SIPP was granted its provisional charter.
At this point, it seemed that a “golden topic” with great faculty involvement offering a high degree of visibility of faculty members and high involvement between faculty and those who attended the conference, was preferred over a “golden speaker.” The topics offered seemed to emphasize the basic issues of concern and focus for the working therapist: “Doing the Work”.
Minutes of SIPP first faculty meeting (1988)
October 21, 1989, SIPP’s first fall conference: The Therapeutic Relationship: Current Perspectives was held at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Drs. Lew Aron, George Goldstein, and George Whitson presented. SIPP provisional charter was announced and it was declared that serving terrific food at events would be a SIPP tradition.
On March 29, 1992 SIPP members met with a group of potential candidates for the first annual “Open House/New Candidate Brunch” at the home of faculty member Dr. Judy Davis.
On September 16, 1992 classes were launched at Dr. Anna Leifer’s office with SIPP’s first class of eight candidates.
February 25, 1996 — The Suffolk Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy was founded as a professional organization to further psychological and psychoanalytic knowledge, to promote and encourage ethical standards in the practice of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis and provide a professional and social opportunity for continued interaction. Rosanne Helden, LCSW, then an analytic candidate, was its first president.
SIPP’s First Sixteen Founding Faculty Members (1988):
Lewis Aron. Ph.D.
Ephraim Biblow, Ph.D.
Barry P. Blank, Ph.D.
Marcia Blank, LCSW
Leslie Bowling, Ph.D.
Judith T. Davies, Ph.D
George Goldstein, Ph.D.
Bruce Hammer, Ph.D.
Madeline Mass Hirschfeld, Ph.D.
Morton Kissen, Ph.D.
Anna Leifer, Ph.D.
Stuart E. Pace, Ph.D.
Suzanne B. Phillips, Psy.D.
Robert M. Prince, Ph.D.
Frances G. Scheff, LCSW
George Whitson, Ph.D.
SIPP’s First Candidates Class (1992):
Rosanne Helden, LCSW
Phyllis Kossak, Ph.D.
Jane Walsh, LCSW
Isabelle Weinberg, Psy.D.
Sheila Adler, LCSW
Felice Barasch, Ph.D.
Dolores Brandt, Psy.D.
Ellie Feldman, LCSW
Winter, 1997 — The first issue of The Process, an in-house publication of SIPP, was published with Lisa Fishman, Shelley Haber, Phyllis Kossak, Carol Sawyer and Ephraim Biblow as the editorial board. The Process became a "process" of creating an analytic newsletter. It was initially designed to create a forum, for both candidates and faculty, to keep all abreast of the happenings within the institute, as well as provide a platform for all to get to know each other. After several years, it evolved into including analytic papers, movie reviews with an analytic twist, book reviews, as well as including vignettes, with responses. It became a way to communicate, and ultimately foster cohesiveness. Clearly, there was a parallel process between formulating the newsletter, and the editors becoming a cohesive group.