Saybrook University


The hard road to real health care reform


Marie DiCowden describes her days right now as “crazy.”

A faculty member in Saybrook’s Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine, DiCowden also serves as Vice-President for Public Policy of the National Academies of Practice, a national coalition of medical practitioners interested in improving the healthcare system. She’s also the Executive Director of the Biscayne Institutes of Health and Living, a community-based healthcare center in Florida.

That expertise puts her on the forefront of the fight to reform America’s healthcare system … and she says it’s difficult.

“I am back and forth between Florida and D.C. right now,” she says.  “I just got home yesterday and I’m leaving again.  We will get reform … but honestly it is anybody's guess what will happen to keep insurance companies accountable.  Quite possibly nothing, unless we hold the senators and congresspeople accountable.”

DiCowden isn’t the only one who thinks that the lobbying power of the insurance industry is keeping reform away from health care. 

Craig Holman is the Legislative Representative for Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization in Washington D.C., and a leading expert on government ethics.  He helps run an internship program for Saybrook students to work with his organization.  He says that insurance industry lobbying has been a “critical factor” in hobbling the healthcare reform Americans voted for in November. 

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Saybrook University open house set for Oct. 1


The new Saybrook University will hold its first open house this Thursday, Oct. 1, from 5:30 – 8 p.m. in San Francisco.

It will be held at Saybrook’s San Francisco offices, at 747 Front Street, but anyone can join through a webcast.  Intended primarily for prospective students, the event will provide information about all three Saybrook colleges, Saybrook’s many programs, and the humanistic approach to scholarship. 

For more information, or to RSVP, email or call 415 – 403 – 1206.


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Changing more than just stationery: Saybrook to officially become a "University" soon



Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, which already possesses three distinct stand-alone “colleges,” is poised to become Saybrook University by the end of this month.

What’s in a name change?  Shakespeare reminds us that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but in this case the upcoming change in signature, stationary, and design reflects a host of other, more substantive, changes, that have already been happening “on the ground.”

For example:

• Saybrook now has three distinct colleges:  the Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies, housing its traditional “legacy” programs in Psychology, Human Science, and Organizational Systems;  its just established Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine, and LIOS Graduate College, a 40-year old leading institution of experiential-based graduate learning and leadership training, based in Seattle which affiliated with Saybrook early this year.  Though united as one institution, each of these three colleges will have their own distinct learning models.

• With new colleges and new degree programs, Saybrook has seen a substantial increase in enrollment over 2008, anticipated to be more than 50%.

• Saybrook has revitalized its learning technology, creating a whole new cyber-environment (“My Learning”) for instructing courses, offering course materials, and helping students and faculty create an academic community that spans the world.

• An entirely new website, focused on the activities of the Saybrook community “in the world” is expected to launch in late September.  New technology will make it easy to student, faculty, and alumni to compare notes, share information, and create an “academic commons” that combines scholarship with real-world applications.

For all these changes, however, one thing isn’t changing:  the soul of the school.  Saybrook University will remain the global home of humanistic thought, in all its manifestations, inspired by the work of luminaries such as Rollo May, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, James Bugental, Virginia Satir, and many others.  Their work will be carried into new fields, and new forms of human endeavor, for the 21st century, through Saybrook University. 


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Saybrook trustee now blogging for Psychology Today


There are a lot of things Alison Shapiro never thought she’d be, starting with “stroke survivor.”  

But after she had two strokes in 24 hours, she found she had the tools to recover fully – and that changed her life.  Since then she’s become many other things she’d never expected:  an author, a leader in the movement to help others understand their own power to heal, and now a blogger for Psychology Today.  

The name of her blog, “Healing into Possibility” is also the name of her book, and Alison – who is the chair of Saybrook’s Board of Trustees – was offered the blog after a Psychology Today editor received a copy of the work.  It chronicles the lessons Alison learned about the power of intention to transform a life in crisis.

By being present, by focusing on the current moment, by being engaged in your struggles rather than going on auto-pilot, we are capable of tremendous acts of healing and recovery.  Her book covers just how the process can work – and her blog will expand that idea in new ways.

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Saybrook enrollment soars in '09


The newly combined Saybrook University welcomes its first incoming class this fall, 2009, and a robust new student enrollment of between 170 - 175 is anticipated.  This total - the combined total fall '09 enrollment for all colleges - represents significant growth over enrollment for fall 2008.

The exact total has yet to be determined, since several new students were in the process of making  final enrollment decisions as of the time the figures were developed, and won’t officially be counted until they have completed the process.  Final enrollment figures for LIOS Graduate College, whose programs start at the end of September, are also still being tabulated.

“Ultimately, Saybrook’s new enrollment goals were realized by offering diverse, multi-disciplinary programs, building upon our existing programs that provide both personal and career opportunities, and promoting new programs that complement our humanistic missions and core values," said Annie McGeady, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management and Admissions.  "Our faculty members have been central in this development, and we’re realizing that positive impact”.

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Saybrook's College of Mind-Body Medicine formally accredited


It’s official:  On August 5, 2009, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the federally recognized accrediting association for public and private schools and colleges California, officially approved Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program, allowing it to offer MS and PhD degrees that will be recognized anywhere in the U.S., and likely the world.

With this approval, Saybrook is making a substantial contribution to the training of healthcare professionals in what  James Gordon, MD, the College’s Dean, calls the “new medicine,” that recognizes the role of mind and body in healing.

The program will be headed by Dr. Gordon, a Harvard educated psychiatrist and a world renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma. He is the Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and recently served as Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. He also served as the first Chair of the Program Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Alternative Medicine and is a former member of the Cancer Advisory Panel on Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health.

For more information, visit the Saybrook homepage for Mind-Body Medicine


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Saybrook releases its new catalog - online


In a major move away from paper and towards instant access to information, Saybrook has released its fall 2009 university catalog this month – online.

Only new students will receive a print copy of the catalog:  returning students can peruse the new content in its digital, searchable, form on the Saybrook website.  Additionally, by making the digital catalog the “primary” catalog, new policies and procedures can be updated in real time. 
Whatever form they prefer, however, students should familiarize themselves with the catalog – as the rules and policies it outlines serve as a kind of contract between the university and its students.

To see the new catalog, click here.


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Facebook Diplomacy means harder work - fewer wars


Recently Robert Faris, research director at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, made a distressing prediction to the National Endowment for Democracy:  international diplomacy is going to get harder than it used to be.

The reason?  Not terrorism (though sure) or fighting over increasingly scarce resources (though yet):  but rather, social media like Facebook.

As more people in different countries get on social media, Faris said, more people in different countries talk directly to each other, and this virtual citizen diplomacy makes it very difficult for diplomats to control the conversation.

"The role of diplomacy given social media is going to be more complicated than it used to be," Faris said.

Nor are diplomats the only ones trying to figure the implications of the new technology out.  Gail Ervin, a Saybrook PhD student in Human Science who works as an environmental mediator, says that “at this point, most mediators are just learning the basics of social media, and we are far from experiencing the promise of it regarding reducing conflicts.”

“I think we are at the dawn of a grand global experiment regarding these questions,” Ervin added, “and there are only inquiries at this point, no answers.”

However, according to Joel Federman, who directs Saybrook’s concentration in Social Transformation, there is reason for optimism.  More people talking to each other directly means more people reacting to actual human beings, instead of crude stereotypes and propaganda.  Diplomacy might get harder, but more human relationships across borders means it might get better.

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That sudden, awful, impulse you just had might mean something after all


Let’s admit it: we’ve all had some really bad impulses. 

Shouting at a lecturer, running in traffic, stealing an inadvisable kiss … who hasn’t had a sudden, mad, urge to do the unthinkable? 

It’s a basic fact of human life, and once again evolutionary psychology is claiming to have explained it.  Turns out, it’s a survival mechanism.  Who would have guessed?

In a recent paper published in Science, Harvard researches say these urges are “ironic processes of control” that help us tame our anti-social impulses. 

“These monitoring processes keep us watchful for errors of thought, speech, and action and enable us to avoid the worst thing in most situations,” the authors write.

In a post on the New York Times’ “Mind” blog, author Benedict Carey expanded on the idea that these self-destructive impulses evolved as a way of helping us manage our anti-social tendencies.

Perverse impulses seem to arise when people focus intensely on avoiding specific errors or taboos. The theory is straightforward: to avoid blurting out that a colleague is a raging hypocrite, the brain must first imagine just that; the very presence of that catastrophic insult, in turn, increases the odds that the brain will spit it out.

“We know that what’s accessible in our minds can exert an influence on judgment and behavior simply because it’s there, it’s floating on the surface of consciousness,” said Jamie Arndt, a psychologist at the University of Missouri.

So there you go, question answered, problem solved, right? 

Maybe – unless you actually want to actually understand what’s going on in your mind, with your thoughts, and your impulses.  Then this theory has absolutely nothing to tell you.

In fact, says Saybrook faculty member Kirk Schneider, it’s a classic example of what Rollo May, in his book Psychology and the Human Dilemma, called "turning mountains into mole hills."

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Don Moss new President-Elect for the APA's Society on Hypnosis


Don Moss, Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program director, has been elected President of Division 30 of the American Psychological Association for the term of 2010 – 2011. 

Division 30 is the Society of Psychological Hypnosis.

The election is one more example of Saybrook’s long leadership in the American Psychological Association’s divisions as well as in the field of mind-body medicine and  hypnosis. 

The current President of Division 30 is Saybrook faculty member Eric Willmarth, whose term expires in 2010.  Willmarth also received the American Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis’ Presidential Recognition Award this year. 

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