Faculty Profile: Sandy Sela-Smith

Photograph of SandySela-Smith
Sandy Sela-Smith

Sandy Sela-Smith

School: Psychology and Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Sandy Sela-Smith, Ph.D. graduated with a BA in History and Political Science from the University of Washington, and MA and Ph.D. in Psychology from Saybrook Graduate School. Dr. Sela-Smith is a licensed mental health counselor in Florida, Colorado, and in Washington, State; she is a nationally certified counselor with N.B.C.C. and is a nationally certified clinical hypnotherapist through A.C.H.E..

Dr. Sela-Smith maintains a private practice focused on psycho-spiritual healing, which recognizes the interconnection of mind-body and spirit in creating and healing psychological issues. The focus of her work involves using self-discovery, which identifies the self as the inner essence of each human being that goes beyond the personality to clients in self-healing through integration of aspects of self that are in conflict with other aspects of the self.

Sela-Smith has articulated a method of research called Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry (HSSI), which involves Jungian-based depth psychology and shamanic journeying to root causes of current problems. The core of this method is applicable in both the academic research arena in graduate school psychology, as well as in the clinical psychology setting for clients. Her areas of interest include alternate realities; autobiography as metaphor; dream work; arenas of non-ordinary reality; genetic, past life, dissociated traumatic memory, and body memory; mind/body/spirit integration, obesity issues, shamanic journeying, sexual abuse issues, personality integration, and issues related to life-altering or life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.

Dr. Sela-Smith is the author of E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many...One (2004) and a trilogy, titled The Meaning of Three: The Mask (2008), Behind the Mask (2009), and Under the Mask, (2011). She is currently working on two books with working titles: Living with Cancer: Experiencing Life…Maybe For the First Time. and Overcoming Obesity from the Inside Out.

Sandy's years of writing experience with her publications, as well as being the primary instructor of Academic Writing 0700-0705 at Saybrook University gives her the experience to contract with students privately to receive guidance in making their practicums, theses, essays, and dissertations meet APA and Saybrook University's writing standards in style, format, and critical thinking.

Curriculum Vitae

Upcoming Presentations and Public Addresses

October 7 - November1, 2008 1- Gallery showing of photography in Glenwood Springs, CO.

October 16, 2008 Denver CO, Spirit in the Workplace presentation of Healing your life and the Planet Through Accessing Cell-Level Consciousness.


Degrees, Discipline, Year, Institution

Ph.D. Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center. Psychology 2001

MA Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center. Psychology 1999

BA University of Washington. Education/Political Sci. & History 1966

Current Projects and Professional Activities

Professional activities and projects include five major arenas: (1)Working with students, especially those at the thesis, essay and dissertation stages of their journey through Saybrook. (2) Psychotherapy and psychotherapy research with cancer patients. (3) Writing for publication, (Currently writing the second book in a trilogy: The Meaning of Three. Book one, The Mask, is completed and expected out in the fall of 2008, Book two, Behind the Mask, will likely be finished this coming winter, and out in the Spring of 2009, and Book three, Under the Mask, I hope will be completed by the end of 2009. (4) Production of CDs for self-healing using deep relaxation and hypnosis methods. (5) Photography, used as a vehicle to help people connect with nature around us, which can lead to connection with and experiencing nature within. I maintain a private psychotherapy practice in Clearwater, Florida, where I am licensed as a mental health counselor, and hold a mental health counselor license in Washington State. I travel to Colorado regularly to write in the peace of the mountains. 

Current Publications

Sela-Smith, S. (2000). The Ullman method of dream analysis: Context and content. Dream Network Journal. 19 (1), 36-40, 42.


Sela-Smith, S. (2000). The motel dream. Dream Network Journal. 19(2), 43-46.


Sela-Smith, S. (2000). Gods in the mirror. Dream Network Journal. 19 (3), 15-18









Significant Publications

Sela-Smith, S. (2000). The Ullman method of dream analysis: Context and content. Dream Network Journal. 19 (1), 36-40, 42.


Sela-Smith, S. (2000). The motel dream. Dream Network Journal. 19(2), 43-46


Sela-Smith, S. (2000). Gods in the mirror. Dream Network Journal. 19 (3), 15-18









Important Conference Presentations

March 30, 2003: Institute of Noetic Science, Florida Suncoast quarterly meeting title:

Accessing Cell Level Consciousness.

October 13-14, 2003: University College extension of University of Maine. Title: Accessing Inner Strength in Tumultuous Times. Title: Discovering Psychological Connections to Physical Illness.

November 20, 2004: International Society for the Study of Dissociation: Annual Conference: New Orleans: LA. Title: Beyond Dissociation: Learning to Live from the Authentic

Self. (CEUs offered)

February 10-12,and March 10 -12 2005: Quinebaug Valley Community College, Danielson, CT: Title: Reducing Stress for Mental Health Professionals. Title: Healing Genetic Patterning. Title: Helping Clients Heal Inner Division. Title: Out of Many…One: An Explanation of Dissociation from the Inside Out. (CEUs offered)

April 23, 2005: Healing Retreats: St. Petersburg Florida: Spiritual Dimensions in Understanding and Healing of the Self (For Women with Breast Cancer)

November, 8-10, 2005: ISSD: Annual Conference in Toronto: 3 presentations Original Dissociation: The Precursor to Dissociation, Mapping: A Tool to Facilitate Integration in a Dissociative Personality, and Beyond Dissociation: Learning to Live from the Authentic Self.

November 14 - 19, 2005: Fourth Pan-Asia conference on Mental Health, Shanghai, China Original Dissociation: The Precursor to Dissociation. (Nov 15) Mapping: A Tool to Facilitate Integration in a Dissociative Personality (Nov 17) Training for Conducting Research In China On Identification of Dissociative Identity Disorder (Nov 18 & 19).

November 8 – 11, 2006: Los Angeles, CA Presentation to the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. (3 presentations)

October 16, 2008: Denver, CO For Spirit in the Workplace. Accessing Cell Level Consciousness for Spirit in the Workplace.


Research Interests

As a graduate student, I developed a research method that became my dissertation Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry (HSSI.) This is a qualitative method of research in which the researcher is the participant of his or her own internal inquiry into the often dark and hidden internal patterns that influence the personal experience of life. This method grew out of the Heuristic Research process as developed by Clark Moustakas in the latter part of the twentieth century when observational and objectively oriented behavioral psychology as science was being challenged by a number of subjective and experiential perspectives. In attempting to implement Moustakas’s method, Dr. Sandy Sela-Smith identified the presence of internal resistance to internally focused inquiry, which impacted research outcomes and as a result she clarified the Moustakas Heuristic Research Method with Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry. The central objective of HSSI is self-transformation, and the central foci of the process are the feelings the self-searcher experiences and the meanings attached to those feelings, which includes feelings related to resistance. Once feelings are discovered and resistance to discovery of deeply buried life-patterns is overcome, a pathway to change the patterns opens, which in turn leads to transformation of self and life-experience. When applied therapeutically, the client’s self-search is guided by a trained therapist whose purpose is to assist the client-inquirer in becoming aware of feelings, noticing and overcoming resistance to feelings, and continuing the self-search process that can lead to a transformation that positively impacts the client’s life and self-experience. When applied in research of others, the principal researcher takes the role of the therapist/guide and the HSSI researcher is the participant/client who is investigating his or her own internal territory, with the help of the principal therapist/guide researcher.

Research Expertise

The dynamic psychotherapy process that I practice, called Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry (HSSI), is a psycho-spiritual process that encourages the researcher to enter the deepest places within to discover the self. This form of research often leads to an encounter with emotional wounds and the meanings attached to wounding. The process is intended to bring self-discovery as well as healing to these internal places. This research method is a bridge between clinical research and psychotherapeutic practice with the researcher as participant and/or with the researcher as therapist, assisting the participant-client in conducting Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry. My area of "expertise" is with persons with life threatening illnesses, assisting them to discover the emotional links to immune system failure and recording the findings in case study format.


Expertise Working with Saybrook Students

I assist students in discovering what they want to research, especially when they want their work to not only be professionally meaningful, but personally meaningful, as well. I help students discover how to express what they want to say in a way that includes their own voice. I, also, assist students interested in doing Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry.

Research Expertise

Research Expertise Rating Guide:

  1. studied in a class or have read intensively on my own
  2. special training in the form of a workshop or equivalent
  3. taught a class in, or supervised research using this method (research practicum, on a dissertation or master's committee
  4. used in research myself
  5. published or presented at conferences my research using this method

Methods Traditionally Considered As Quantitative (But Need Not Be)

Laboratory Research
Field Experiments
Randomized Controlled Clinical
Quasi-experimental methods
Correlational Methods

Methods That Could Use Quantitative Or Qualitative Methods

Action Research
Survey Research
Interview Research
Observational Research
Epidemiological Research
Focus Groups
Self-Observational Methods
Narrative Methods
Feminist Methods
Content Analysis
Discovery-Oriented (psychotherapy)
Events paradigm (psychotherapy)
Archival Research
Case History Methods
Appreciative Inquiry
Multiple Case Depth Research
Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Design
Longitudinal research
Cross-sectional research

Methods Primarily Associated With Qualitative Research (But May Also Use Quantitative)

Ethnoautobiographical research
Grounded Theory
Heuristic Research

Types of Analysis

Simple Parametric Statistics (t-test, etc.)
Confidence intervals
Analysis of Variance (including MANOVA)
Analysis of Covariance
Regression (including multiple regression)
Discriminant Function Analysis
Structural Equation Modeling/Path Analysis
Causal Modeling
Cluster Analysis
Survival Analysis
Bayesian Analysis
Meta-analysis and effect sizes
Factor Analysis
Time series analysis
Multidimensional scaling