2013 Scheduled Conference Speakers


Keynote Speakers

Irvin Yalom, M.D.

I was born in Washington, D.C., June 13, 1931, of parents who immigrated from Russia (from a small village named Celtz near the Polish border) shortly after the first world war. Home was the inner city of Washington—a small apartment atop my parents’ grocery store on First and Seaton Street. During my childhood, Washington was a segregated city, and I lived in the midst of a poor, black neighborhood. Life on the streets was often perilous. Indoor reading was my refuge and, twice a week, I made the hazardous bicycle trek to the central library at seventh and K streets to stock up on supplies.


No counseling or direction was available: my parents had virtually no secular education, never read books and were entirely consumed in the struggle for economic survival. My book choices were capricious, directed in part by the library architecture; the large, centrally placed bookcase on biography caught my attention early, and I spent an entire year going through that bookcase from A (John Adams) to Z (Zoroaster). But it was mainly in fiction where I found a refuge, an alternate, more satisfying world, a source of inspiration and wisdom. Sometime early in life I developed the notion—one which I have never relinquished—that writing a novel is the very finest thing a person can do.


To the ghetto mentality of my day, career choices for young men were limited or perceived as limited. All of my peers either went into medical school or into business with their fathers. Medical school seemed closer to Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and I entered upon my medical training already having decided to go into psychiatry. Psychiatry proved (and proves to this day) endlessly intriguing, and I have approached all of my patients with a sense of wonderment at the story that will unfold. I believe that a different therapy must be constructed for each patient because each has a unique story. As the years pass, this attitude moves me farther and farther from the center of professional psychiatry, which is now so fiercely driven by economic forces in precisely opposite directions—namely accurate de-individualizing (symptom-based) diagnosis and uniform, protocol-driven, brief therapy for all.


My first writings were scientific contributions to professional journals. My first book, The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy has been widely used (seven hundred thousand copies) as a text for training therapists. It has been translated into twelve languages and is now in its fourth edition. My publisher for this book and every one of my subsequent books is Basic Books with whom I have had a long and excellent relationship. Instructors praise my group therapy text because it is based on the best available empirical evidence. I suspect, however, that it owes some of its success to story-telling—to a stream of brief human vignettes running throughout the text. For twenty years I have heard students tell me that it reads like a novel.


Other texts followed—Existential Psychotherapy (a textbook for a course that did not exist at the time), Inpatient Group Psychotherapy (a guide to leading groups in the inpatient psychiatric ward). Encounter Groups: First Facts, a research monograph that is out of print. Then, in an effort to teach aspects of Existential Therapy I turned to a literary conveyance and in the past several years have written a book of therapy tales (Love's Executioner), Momma and the Meaning of Life (a collection of true and fictionalized tales of therapy) and three teaching novels (When Nietzsche Wept, Lying on the Couch, and The Schopenhauer Cure).


Though these books have been best sellers to a general audience and have been reviewed often—both favorably and unfavorably—on their literary merit (When Nietzsche Wept won the Commonwealth Gold Medal for best fiction of 1993 and in 2009 was honored by the Vienna Book fair and one hundred thousand free copies distributed to the citizens of Vienna), I intended them as pedagogical works—books of teaching stories and a new genre—the teaching novel. They have been widely translated—each into about fifteen to twenty languages—and have had considerable distribution abroad. When Nietzsche Wept, for example, was on the top of the Israeli best seller list for over four years. An anthology, The Yalom Reader, was published by Basic books at the end of 1997. In addition to key excerpts from each of my other books it contains several new personal essays which provide introductions for mental health professionals to Love’s Executioner, When Nietzsche Wept and Lying on the Couch. A short story about the Hungarian Holocaust, I’m calling the Police, has been published as a book in several languages (German, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch). My most recent historical novel, The Spinoza Problem, is scheduled to be published in February, 2012.


My wife, Marilyn, received a Ph. D. in comparative literature (French and German) from Johns Hopkins and has had a highly successful career as a university professor and writer. Her many works include Blood Sisters,  A History of the Breast, History of the Wife, The Birth of The Chess Queen and (together with my son Reid Yalom) The American Resting Place. My four children, all living in the San Francisco Bay area, have chosen a variety of careers—medicine, photography, creative writing, theater directing, clinical psychology. Five grandchildren and counting

Gabor Maté, M.D.

For more information and a list of books by Dr. Mate, please click here.

Dr. Gabor Maté is a Canadian physician, public speaker and bestselling author whose works have been published internationally in twenty languages. His most recent book is the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.

For twelve years Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. With over 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience and extensive knowledge of the latest findings of leading-edge research, Dr. Mate is a sought-after expert on mind/body health, parenting, childhood development, illness, and the treatment of addictions.

A renowned thinker and speaker, Dr. Maté regularly addresses health professionals, educators, and lay audiences throughout North America. At the core of his work is an understanding of the broader context in which human disease and disorders arise, and the intricate mind/body unity that is at the root of illness, and of health.

Jennifer Selig, PhD.

Jennifer spent 16 years teaching at Dixon High School in Dixon, California, before moving on to teach at the university level.

She served as Department Chair and Research Coordinator at Pacifica Graduate Institute in the Depth Psychology Department before moving into her current role as Academic Director of Hybrid Programs, creating and running both the MA/PhD in Jungian and Archetypal Studies, and the MA in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life programs.

She has authored a series of books:

The Soul Does Not Specialize: Revaluing Humanities and the Polyvalent Imagination (co-edited with Dennis Patrick Slattery, and Stephen A. Aizenstat),

Reimagining Education: Essays on Reviving the Soul of Learning (co-edited with Dennis Patrick Slattery),  What Now? Words of Wisdom for Life After Graduation, What Now? A Little Book of Graduation Wisdom, Reach for the Stars, and  Thinking Outside the Church: 110 Ways to Connect With Your Spiritual Nature.

Geneva Reynaga-Abiko, Psy.D.

Geneva Reynaga-Abiko is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently works as Director and Director of Training at University of California, Merced Counseling and Psychological Services.  She earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and completed pre- and post-doctoral training at the Department of Mental Health in Vacaville, CA in neuropsychological assessment.  Dr. Reynaga-Abiko has worked in higher education since 2005 as a clinician, faculty member and administrator.  Her areas of interest include psychological assessment with Latina/os; training multiculturally competent mental health professionals; intersectionality and borderlands theory; and Buddhist psychotherapies.

Shelly P. Harrell, Ph.D.

With over 25 years of experience helping, teaching, and mentoring others, Dr. Shelly Harrell is a licensed clinical psychologist and Full Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. She received her undergraduate degree at Harvard University, and her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology from UCLA. Her primary areas of scholarship include multicultural and community psychology, culture and well-being, and the development of culturally-syntonic interventions with diverse populations. Dr. Harrell has published on topics such as racism and mental health, diversity principles, sociopolitical development, and empowerment journaling. As a psychotherapist, coach, and consultant, she also maintains a private practice where she works with individuals, groups, and organizations from an integrative multicultural humanistic perspective informed by interpersonal neurobiology. Most recently she has developed the Contextualized Humanistic Intervention (CHI) conceptual framework and an intervention approach she calls “Focus and Flow”. Dr. Harrell can be found on the web at www.focusandflow365.com and www.thedailydeepbreath.com, as well as @focusandflow on Twitter and Facebook.

Invited Speakers

Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds is an existential psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. His work has focused on drug free relationship based approaches for those undergoing extreme states of mind and autistic/developmentally different persons. Dr. Edmunds is the Founder of the International Center for Humane Psychiatry, an emancipatory movement for human rights in the mental health system. Dr. Edmunds is the author of The Meeting of Two Persons: What Therapy Should Be; and Being Autistic: An Approach Towards Acceptance and Understanding.
Jacqueline Simon Gunn, PsyD.

 Dr. Jacqueline Simon Gunn is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan.  She specializes in Trauma, Eating Disorders, Alternative Lifestyles, Interpersonal Problems and Sports Psychology. She is the former Psychology Internship Training Director and Clinical Supervisor of The Karen Horney Clinic..

Dr. Simon Gunn is the author of “In the Therapist’s Chair,” “Analysis of the Relationship between Shame, Guilt and Empathy in Intimate Relationship Violence,” “Breaking Through My Stride: Running as Being" and “Soaring to Our Potential.”
Dr. Simon Gunn’s new book, “Bare: Psychotherapy Stripped,” will be out soon.
The title of Dr. Simon Gunn’s presentation is:
"The Dynamic Self Striving for Growth and Authenticity: Karen Horney an Existential-Phenomenological Perspective".
Please visit www.drjacquelinegunn.com for more information about Dr. Simon Gunn.

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D., Ph.D.

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D., Ph.D. is a Founding Faculty Member at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles, and at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity, New York City. He is the author of World, Affectivity, Trauma: Heidegger and Post-Cartesian Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2011) and Trauma and Human Existence: Autobiographical, Psychoanalytic, and Philosophical Reflections (Routledge, 2007) and coauthor of eight other books. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Harvard University in 1970, his Certificate in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, New York City, in 1974, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California at Riverside in 2007. He received the Distinguished Scientific Award from the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association in 1995, the Haskell Norman Prize for Excellence in Psychoanalysis from the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis in 2011, and the Hans W. Loewald Memorial Award from the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education in 2012.

Special thanks to Pacifica Graduate Institute for providing the venue.