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Wright Institute

The Wright Institute
Motto Educating Clinicians to Society
Established 1968
Type Independent, Non-profit
Location Berkeley, California, United States
Website .edu.wiwww

The Wright Institute is a Clinical Psychology Graduate School located in Berkeley, California.


  • Founding 1
  • The Program 2
  • The evolution of the program 3
  • Current status 4
  • Notable alumni 5
  • Notable Former Employees 6
  • References 7


The Institute was founded by Nevitt Sanford in 1968 when he left Stanford. Dr. Sanford first gained prominence as a co-author of "The Authoritarian Personality," a study of anti-Semitism published in 1950. His co-authors included two refugees from Nazi persecution, Thomas Adorno and Else Frenkel-Brunswik.[1]

Sanford believed strongly in the capacity of adults to continue to learn and grow throughout their lives. His developmental approach and emphasis on the possibilities of lifelong learning form a key part of the foundation on which the Wright's doctoral program is built.[2]

Sanford was also influential in shaping American clinical psychology educational standards. In 1947, he was appointed by the American Psychological Association to the committee that established criteria for accrediting programs in clinical psychology. Under his leadership, the Wright Institute broadened the educational scope of clinical psychology training to include an emphasis on understanding the diverse society in which we live.[2]

The Program

At its outset the program was interdisciplinary. Faculty members were drawn from a range of disciplines including sociology, philosophy, and history. Only a few were psychologists. The structure of the program was "spare" with only four required courses. Two of these were "Psychopathology" and a course that criticized the notion of "Psychopathology". Alongside the Institute was a clinic in which students and faculty could practice. Students were required to write a thesis. Until 1985 it was possible to practice psychology in California if one had a PhD in any field, and passed the State Board exams. The Institute was recognized as a leading center for "critical psychoanalysis" and the place for people who already had PhDs in other fields, like sociology, literature or history.

The evolution of the program

Since its inception, the Institute has gone through various incarnations, with extensive changes in governance, faculty and philosophy. The most notable change was in 1995, when the earlier PhD program, focused on psychology as inherently critical and multidisciplinary, became an APA accredited PsyD program, with a complete change in curriculum and nearly complete change in faculty. Recent changes have included the establishment of an MA program in Counseling Psychology.[2]

Current status

The Wright Institute is fully accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).[2]

The Wright Institute's Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association's Committee on Accreditation. In its most recent review, the American Psychological Association's Committee on Accreditation awarded the Psy.D. program its highest rating - seven years of continued accreditation.

The Wright Institute's Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program is approved by the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). The MA program is designed to meet the requirements defined in the California Business and Professions (B&P) Code Sections 4980.37 and 4980.40 which cover the statutes and regulations relating to the practice of marriage and family therapy.

Notable alumni

Notable Former Employees

Charles Hampden-Turner


  1. ^ *Nevitt Sanford's New York Times obituary
  2. ^ a b c d "Wright Institute"
  3. ^ Hencke, David (2009-02-12). "Former spin doctor admits error on CV". London: guardian. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  4. ^ Farris, Phoebe (1999). Women artists of color: a bio-critical sourcebook to 20th century artists in the Americas. Westport, Conn:  
  5. ^ Suzanne Segal (1996). Collision With the Infinite: A Life Beyond the Personal Self. Blue Dove Press. p. 102.  
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