Department History

SSU Campus, 1970s (from SSU library) The department, founded in 1960, originally emphasized the humanistic and existential traditions in psychology. The department offered the first graduate program in humanistic psychology and helped to pioneer that field, with four faculty who served as president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, an international organization. Department faculty pioneered work in such areas as somatics, client-centered therapy, expressive arts, biofeedback, organization development, ecopsychology, Jungian and archetypal psychology, transpersonal psychology, student-directed learning, experiential learning, and learning-community approaches.

The Society for Humanistic Psychology recognized the contributions of Professor Eleanor Criswell (seated) with the inaugural award to celebrate women in Humanistic Psychology. The biography below is reprinted from the August 8, 2018 awards ceremony:

Eleanor Criswell Hanna, Ed.D, represents a person of courage who took a novel position in the field of psychology by emphasizing the somatic wisdom of the body to help heal the whole person. Eleanor Criswell Hanna was the Founding Director of the Human Psychology Institute in 1971, which later became Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, the educational heart of Humanistic Psychology education in the United States. She is a founder and owner of the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training established in 1975 by Dr. Criswell Hanna and her husband, Thomas Hanna. She is also professor of psychology, emeritus at Sonoma State University.

Her lifelong work focuses on somatics, yoga, embodiment, and ways to awaken human potential through somatic awareness, theory, practice and research. As stated on the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training website, "Somatics is a method for reawakening the mind's control of movement, flexibility, and health, committed to the actualization of full human potential for all people within a healthy environmental context. To facilitate that process, The Novato Institute engages in educational activities that include publishing SOMATICS Magazine and selected books, producing and distributing CDs and DVDs, conducting workshops and professional trainings, and working with individual clients."

In a speech at the Saybrook Graduate School commencement ceremony in 1978, Dr. Criswell Hanna's vision and innovation were apparent. "In December of 1969," she said, "I conceived of the idea for the Humanistic Psychology Institute. My idea was to create a graduate institute devoted to the study of humanistic psychology and to the conduct of human research." Thus Saybrook University was born. Sharing her philosophical worldview, Criswell Hanna shared with graduates that, "As a humanistic psychologist I have a concern for all persons and their basic human rights their right to  be treated as individuals with worth and dignity; the right to primacy of their experiences; the  right to  the holistic development  of their various talents and capacities, as well as the rights of society to the contributions of all individuals toward the cultural evolution of mankind ... The humanistic tradition has always been concerned with the full development of the person."

Criswell Hanna's vision for Humanistic Psychology still comprises the core of humanistic psychologies today.

Shrink Rap Radio, created by David Van Nuys, Professor Emeritus in the Psychology Department at Sonoma State University features interviews with many Psychology Department faculty and eminent leaders from across the discipline. You can listen to programs on your computer or download or subscribe to the series on iTunes. In 2018, Professor Van Nuys was recognized as an American Psychological Association Citizen Psychologist.

Emeritus Faculty

  • Eleanor Criswell, Ed.D.
  • Victor Daniels, Ph.D.
  • Saul Eisen, Ph.D.
  • Barry Godolphin, Ph.D. (d. 2008)
  • Robert Greenway, Ph.D.
  • Susan Hillier, Ph.D.
  • Larry Horowitz, Ph.D. (d. 2012)
  • Bernd Jager, Ph.D.
  • William McCreary, Ph.D.
  • Nina Menrath, Ph.D. (d. 2013)
  • Charles Merrill, Ed.D.
  • Frank Siroky, Ph.D.
  • Robert Slagle, Ph.D.
  • Susan Stewart, Ph.D. 
  • Hobart (Red) Thomas, Ph.D. (d. 2009)
  • David Van Nuys, Ph.D.
  • Arthur Warmoth, Ph.D. (d. 2014)