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THE SANVILLE INSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK AND PSYCHOTHERAPY offers a clinical, state-approved PhD program, a Cross-Cultural Cohort PhD program and a two-year certificate program. It has classes in both Los Angeles and Berkeley for master’s-level mental health professionals in both southern and northern California.

Educational Model

The mission of The Sanville Institute is to provide doctoral education for master’s level psychotherapists. The Institute educates individuals to work as clinicians, supervisors, administrators, teachers, writers, and researchers, and to use their knowledge and experience to contribute to the improvement of mental health and social services in our diverse community and to the promotion of a healthy society.


  • The Institute nurtures the capacity of adult learners for professional growth and personal development through education.
  • The Institute is committed to teaching advanced clinical practice that is grounded in psychodynamic understanding, includes a breadth of psychotherapeutic modalities, and reflects awareness of the impact of society and culture on the development of the self, theory, and knowledge.
  • The Institute strives to make learning a relational process that fosters integration of theory, experience, and practice.
  • The Institute encourages diversity of all kinds, including but not limited to racial, ethnic, religious, gender, physical ability, and sexual preference in its Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, and student body.
  • The Institute recognizes that prejudice and oppression have always been part of the human condition and seeks to ameliorate their negative effects by promoting interpersonal, interracial, and intercultural understanding in the learning environment and in clinical work.
  • The Institute fosters the application of psychosocial understanding to enhance the well-being of individuals and groups, and specifically values this in relation to itself at all levels, including the Board of Trustees, faculty, administration, alumni, and students.


The educational philosophy, which permeates the curriculum and learning modalities at The Sanville Institute, is guided by the following principles and purposes:

Learning in the mental health professions occurs in the context of relationship: between students, between students and teachers, and between students and those they serve. These relationships provide the medium for growth in the learner’s integrative capacity. The student’s maximum participation in the learning process is encouraged and supported.

The adult learner brings to the educational process her or his own life experience, value system, learning style, and goals. The effective teacher focuses attention on the learner toward facilitating the learner’s capacity to use these personal incentives for self-directed study and independent inquiry.

The highest goal of the educational process is to develop the capacity to ask meaningful questions about the unknown and to free the individual to pursue and extend his or her own education. Learning is an open-ended process that occurs throughout the life span of the individual.


The research philosophy of the Institute stresses that students should learn to think critically about empirical research and should be able to evaluate the basic assumptions upon which knowledge is based. Students should be able to derive research questions from clinical and social problems and to apply appropriate methodologies. The Institute emphasizes qualitative research, believing that the “grounded theory” approach to both descriptive and interpretive research is most relevant to the study of clinical issues and the phenomenology of social problems. An individual who possesses the PhD degree, however, should be conversant with quantitative methodology. Students who wish to pursue dissertation research that employs quantitative methods are encouraged to do so.


The Institute does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, physical handicap, race, religion, color, or national, ethnic, or sexual orientation in its admissions or in any of its policies or programs. Our goal is to attract as diverse a student body as possible from available qualified applicants.

Approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education

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