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History of SDPA

Past President Thomas MacSpieden, Ph.D. (1976) kindly compiled for us an account of the early history of psychology in San Diego and the history of SDPA from its inception in 1960 to 1976.    

The Early Years of Psychology in San Diego County 

The role of professional psychology in the 20th century was to a great extent defined by events during the two world wars.  Prior to World War I most psychologists were experimental or research oriented and were members of university and college teaching staffs.

In 1917 when the United States entered World War I, the American Psychological Association volunteered Robert Yerkes, then a well-known comparative psychologist at Harvard University, to serve as Chief of Psychological Services for the U.S. Army.  He headed a committee organized to devise a psychometric screening procedure for the approximately two million recruits conscripted in the first truly universal draft in the history of the United States.  The goal of the screening was to exclude "feeble minded" persons from the military ranks and to select more able persons for positions of responsibility.

Robert Yerkes and his committee developed the Army Alpha and the Army Beta intelligence tests, the first group intelligence tests ever formulated. These proved to be effective tools and were the forerunners of many psychological tests, some good and some not so good.  The Army Alpha and Beta established psychologists as psychological test builders and administrators, the primary role of applied psychology for the ensuing 25 years.

With the outbreak of World War II medical science discovered that if psychotherapeutic treatment were given to "shell shocked" soldiers at medical units just behind the battle lines, rather than only later at hospitals in the United States, their prognosis for recovery was greatly improved.  With quick treatment soldiers were often able to return to their fighting units within weeks.  Because of a dearth of psychiatrists to offer such treatment, psychologists were utilized, thereby legitimizing psychologists as psychotherapists.

For 35 to 40 years after World War II, psychology and psychiatry fought fierce turf battles over whether psychologists could practice psychotherapy without medical supervision.  By the mid 1980's, with the exception of periodic skirmishes, psychotherapy was recognized as a prerogative of both disciplines.  As a possible portent of the future, in the 1990's the Department of Defense initiated a Psychopharmacology Demonstration Project.  In this program, psychologists were permitted to prescribe psychotropic medications.

Years 1920 - 1949

The effect of the two world wars in defining professional psychology was felt in San Diego although it was not immediate.  Because of the lack of regulation there are few records to reflect the status of professional psychology during the early 1900's, but the telephone directory is one such source.

In 1920 the San Diego Yellow Pages appeared for the first time as part of the 6" X 9" San Diego telephone directory.  It was not until 1922 that the heading Psychologist appeared, and there was a single listing: "Dr. Z.Z. Jacquez." Dr. Jacquez was in the Owl Drug Building, and the telephone number was 643-40.  No other information is shown for him, or her.  That listing continued through 1931 but not thereafter.  The only other name under the Psychologist heading during that ten-year interval was "Carlos Grati," listed in 1926 and 1927.  Nothing is known about him.

In 1932 and 1933, no one listed as a psychologist in the San Diego Yellow Pages.  Between 1934 and 1939 no more than two names appeared in any one year, but the names were colorful: "Princess Anna Zentz," "Kairo," "LuLu Jacob," "Madam Stanley" and "Emily W. Strobell."  Emily Strobell's listing was the first to give any description of services and/or qualifications: "Psycho-analyst-metaphysician." She listed in the 1937 and 1938 directories only.

During the early years of World War II, 1939 and 1940, Madam Stanley was the only person listed under the Psychologist heading. In 1941, Mrs. Gertrude S. Bell appeared along with Madam Stanley.  Mrs. Bell listed her services: "Consulting psychology tests, intelligence, school abilities, vocational aptitudes, remedial instruction."  Her office was at 319 Laurel Street.

Three persons listed as psychologists in the 1943 directory, the first time more than two names had appeared at one time.  Joining Mrs. Bell and Madam Stanley was Jessie M. Ostrander, who listed services of "vocational tests, adult and child guidance."  Madam Stanley's name did not appear in subsequent Yellow Pages.  In 1944, no one listed as a psychologist.

In 1945, the year World War II ended, the Yellow Pages listed four psychologists.  In addition to Gertrude Bell and Jessie Ostrander, there were Oliver Butterfield and Carolyn Rouse.  In 1946 three of those four names appear.  Oliver Butterfield was absent, and never listed in the local Yellow Pages again.  Joining the three remaining names was "LaJune Foster."

After 1946 the number of psychologists listed and their services proliferated.  For example, one listing in 1947 offered "analysis: dreams, subconscious auto-suggestion, auto-hypnosis, marriage problems; tests: all kinds; somatic relaxation: eye, fatigue, insomnia."

A story is told of one early practitioner in San Diego County who held herself out to the community as a psychologist.  She would take clients into the wilderness of east San Diego County where they would strike one another with tree branches to drive out evil spirits.

Before the days of licensure and certification, when the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology [ABEPP] was incorporated in 1947 in an attempt to exclude charlatans from the practice of psychology.  ABEPP offered Diplomate status to qualified practitioners in professional psychology, a status similar to specialty Board certification for physicians.  Unlike professional licensure, there was no civil authority to enforce the provisions promulgated by ABEPP.  To attain ABEPP status prior to the passage of licensure was the only reliable mark of excellence.  Initially Ph.D. applicants were grandfathered into ABEPP.

Because of concerns about the increasing number of persons calling themselves psychologists and offering services that were not in the best interests of the public, the San Diego City Council passed New Series Ordinance #3820 which became effective on 10 August 1948.

The ordinance established the San Diego City Psychology Commission and mandated city psychology licensure for persons holding themselves out as psychologists within the San Diego city limits.  Possibly, because of this ordinance no psychologists appeared in the Yellow Pages in 1949.  In the following year the name of Jessie Ostrander reappeared with the statement "Psychologist's license San Diego.  Adult and child guidance, afternoons only."  After that year, Dr. Ostrander's name did not appear again, nor did the names of any other persons who had listed in prior years.

Years 1950 - 1958

The year 1950 was pivotal for professional psychology in San Diego and perhaps in many other cities.  A large number of World War II veterans had taken advantage of the GI Bill to return to college and earn advanced degrees.  One of these was Wallace V. Lockwood. He had been a lieutenant in the Navy, and after the war, he attended UCLA to obtain his Ph.D. in 1950.  Dr. Lockwood immediately relocated to San Diego to work as the chief clinical psychologist at the VA Mental Hygiene Clinic. 

Although this remained his employment until 1956, in 1951 Dr. Lockwood initiated a part time group practice listed in the Yellow Pages as "Psychological Associates. Ph.D. Members of the American Psychological Association.  Complete counseling services by appointment."  Those who remember Dr. Lockwood recall him stating that as far as he knew his was the "first group practice in the state".  It was definitely the first practice listed in the San Diego Yellow Pages that indicated "Ph.D." even though at first the names of the practitioners were not shown.

Dr. Lockwood's office was in the 2500 block of Fifth Avenue, in a building demolished in 1964 to make way for the structure now housing Mr. A's Restaurant.  He and his group then moved to 329 Laurel, just a few doors down from where Mrs. Gertrude Bell had practiced until 1947.

In 1956 and 1957, Dr. Lockwood was chairperson of the San Diego City Psychology Commission.  From 1970 to 1978, he would serve as member and later as chair of the state licensing Board - then called the Psychology Examining Committee (PEC).  Dr. Lockwood's career would continue until October 1995, when at age 80 he would succumb to a heart attack during psychotherapy with a patient at the Laurel Street address.

In 1950, Robert Kaplan earned his Ph.D. at Washington University.  After one year as chief psychologist at the VA Mental Hygiene Clinic in Oklahoma City he arrived in San Diego to open his private practice in clinical psychology on Quince Street.  In 1953 his name appeared in the Yellow Pages for the first time, with his degree and services offered: "Personality and intelligence testing, counseling on emotional and marital problems, behavioral problems of children and adolescents."  By 1953, he had moved his office to Fourth Avenue.  This was the first time a name and degree had appeared together in the San Diego Yellow Pages under the "Psychologists" heading.

Dr. Kaplan would serve on the state PEC, function as PEC chair in 1961and 1962, and serve as President of the San Diego Society of Clinical Psychologists in 1971.  He would remain professionally active until felled by cancer on Sunday, November 7, 1976.

Maurice Zemlick also obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1950 from Washington University.  During the ensuing two years, he worked in St. Louis, until Dr. Kaplan convinced him to relocate to San Diego. He arrived here in 1954 to open a part time private practice on Fourth Avenue and to work as a consultant to the local military.

In 1956 or 1957 Dr. Zemlick along with Charles Manucia, M.A., who would later earn a Ph.D. degree, initiated the first Psychology Information and Referral Service in San Diego.  They took turns responding to telephone calls and making referrals.

After James Chipps was discharged from the Army at the end of World War II he attended Pacific University to obtain his bachelor's degree, and subsequently the University of Washington to obtain his Ph.D. degree in 1954.  He immediately came to San Diego and began a six-year employment at the VA Mental Hygiene Clinic.  He would then work at the Boys and Girls Aid Society until 1960 before opening his private practice.

Drs. Lockwood, Kaplan, Zemlick and Chipps were not the only well qualified psychologists to arrive in San Diego during the first half of the 1950's.  However, during the years to come they would be among the prime movers who not only shaped psychology in San Diego but also influenced psychology in California directly and by example.

Until possibly 1950, neither San Diego psychologists nor psychiatrists had separate county organizations.  No one seems to remember the exact year, but possibly, in 1950, the San Diego Association of Psychologists and Psychiatrists was formed.  It came to be known as "Psych & Psych."  The purpose of the organization was to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas between the two disciplines and to pursue mutual goals.  In 1953, Dr. Lockwood was President.

The few surviving psychologists who were members of Psych & Psych give different estimates of membership size, but by the middle 1950's there were no more than 25 psychiatrists and 50 psychologists practicing in San Diego County.  Of the psychologists, only six were listed in the Yellow Pages as private practitioners.  Of these, five had Ph.D. degrees.  A large proportion of psychologists in San Diego had only master's degrees and functioned in multidisciplinary settings, often as psychometrists rather than psychotherapists.

By 1955 in the United States there were 1187 Diplomates of the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology ABEPP], and five of these were in San Diego.  Two were Board certified in counseling: Drs. Hilding Carlson and Edmund Dudek.  Three were Board certified in clinical psychology: Daniel Harris, Wallace Lockwood, and Rosa Parsons.  Dr. Carlson taught at San Diego State College from 1948 until retirement, was a member of Dr. Lockwood's group, and served on the San Diego City Psychology Commission.  Dr. Harris worked at San Diego County Mental Health Services for many years.

In 1957, the governor of California signed into law a bill to certify psychologists in the state.  This act eventually rendered obsolete the City of San Diego licensure.  State certification was a major step forward for the profession, but the provisions of the law were weak and among other omissions did not prohibit non-certified persons from calling themselves psychologists.  Ten years were to pass before the governor would sign the Psychology Licensing Bill into law in 1967.  Among other things, it would be both a title law and a practice-protection law.

By the late 1950's there was increasing tension between psychology and psychiatry, and at Psych and Psych meetings during this time there were no more than 15 psychologists and three psychiatrists.  The tension occurred over two primary issues: state licensure instead of certification for psychologists, and insurance company reimbursement of psychologists for psychotherapy.  The latter was a prerogative psychiatrists had won only a few years earlier. Were psychology to prevail, it would become an autonomous profession. Psych and Psych ended sometime in 1960.

Years 1959 - 1975

In or about mid 1959 Drs. Harold Bessell, James Chipps and Maurice Zemlick began meeting in the evening at Dr. Zemlick's home in south Clairemont.  The purpose was to explore organizing the first county psychological Association.  The discussion group quickly grew to perhaps nine psychologists, with the addition of Drs. Daniel Harris, Verda Heisler, Robert Kaplan, and Irving Stone.

The discussion group was keenly aware that there were multiple factions among psychologists in the county.  For example, the majority of psychologists teaching at San Diego State College believed that psychologists should not practice psychotherapy and that those psychologists who did so for monetary gain bordered on the unethical.  Similarly, psychologists in private practice generally believed that academic psychologists lived in an ivory tower and were unaware of problems in the real world.

Another point of disagreement occurred between solo practitioners and those who valued their subservient relationship to medicine. The latter group believed psychologists should not seek licensure or reimbursement from insurance companies for psychotherapy. These differences were not unlike those that would divide psychologists three decades later over such matters as hospital admitting privileges and prescription privileges.

The discussion group under Dr. Zemlick concluded that the pursuit of licensure and insurance reimbursement necessitated formation of a county psychological organization.  An Organization and Bylaws Committee was established with members selected from the two primary groups of psychologists, academics and practitioners.

On 1 September 1959 the following letter was mailed to the approximately 130 psychologists known to be in San Diego County:

Dear Psychologist:

The birth process can be an exciting and wonderful reality, joyfully anticipated and vibrantly experienced.  Or, it can be a painful, anxiety-producing trauma, apprehensively approached and fearfully considered.

It is with such mixed feelings that a group of your colleagues have undertaken the organization of a new psychology group, to be called the San Diego County Psychological Association [S.D.C.P.A.].

It is the feeling of those who have begun this project that the uncertainties of psychology's adolescence are rapidly drawing to a close and that, looking into the not too distant future, we must be prepared for our maturity in a realistic way.  Many other counties in the state, taking their lead from APA encouragement, have established such Associations to promote a clearer and sharper image of psychology to the public and to act as the unified representative of a growing profession.

In San Diego we have been extremely fortunate for the past several years to be able to join together with psychiatrists in the San Diego Association of Psychologists and Psychiatrists for the purpose of interdisciplinary communication and the pursuit of mutual goals.  Many of us feel that the excellent working relations between psychologists and psychiatrists in San Diego owes much of its uniqueness to the vital role played by Psych and Psych.  It is the honest hope of those who are now actively engaged in the formation of S.D.C.P.A. that the San Diego Association of Psychologists and Psychiatrists will continue its useful function and that the proposed county Association will be able to supplement this function in areas where, by its very nature, Psych and Psych cannot serve.

Specifically, we feel that the profession of psychology needs a county-wide organization to allow for better public relations, to foster a sharper and clearer identify [sic] of psychology to psychologists as well as to the public, to effect better working relations with the state and national psychological Associations, and to aid in the integration of interests and activities of all psychologists, respecting and enhancing specific professional areas of activity as well as those of general interest.

We have enclosed a copy of the first draft of the proposed by-laws for the San Diego County Psychological Association.  Would you help us by reading it through and then plan to attend the organizational meeting to be held on September 25, 1959, in the cafeteria at State College.  The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.  Those who wish may have dinner in the cafeteria beginning at 6:00.

We sincerely hope that the newborn Association will have the strength and vigor that comes from total participation by all 130 psychologists in San Diego County.  In the meantime, your thought and participation will help guide the working committees in making the final plan a conception satisfactory to all.

The Organization and ByLaws Committee was begun.  Drs. Jim Chipps, Ed Dudek, Ed Geldreich, Scott Gray, Larry Solomon, Irving Stone and Dick Worthington signed the letter above.  Accompanying it was a nine-page document titled: Proposed Bylaws of the San Diego County Psychological Association.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, there was considerable disagreement at the 25 September 1959 meeting.  Over the years, memories have faded for exactly what the disagreements were.  However, it is known that at a meeting in January 1960 the Organization and Bylaws Committee was reconstituted.  Drs. Gray, Solomon and Worthington were no longer on the Committee.  Added were Drs. Charles Harsh, Verda Heisler, Francis Leukel and Fannie Montalto.

The Organization and Bylaws Committee formulated a second set of proposed bylaws and mailed it to psychologists on March 11, 1960 with the following cover letter:

Dear Fellow Psychologist,

There will be a meeting of all psychologists in San Diego County who are interested in forming a County Psychological Association on Friday, April 1, 1960 at 7:30 p.m.  The meeting will be held in the Faculty Lounge at State College.  Parking will be available next to the Campus Laboratory School.

The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss and adopt bylaws for the Association.  Enclosed is a cop of the proposed bylaws drawn up by the Constitution Committee appointed at the meeting held in January.  Please review this proposal and bring this copy with you to the meeting.

In several instances the Committee believed that the decisions pertaining to some policies to be included in the bylaws were important enough (or possibly controversial enough) to justify bringing appropriate alternatives to the attention of the entire group.  Such cases are identified in the margin as alternatives (lettered in sequence for easier designation) and the content of each alternative is included in parentheses in the text of the bylaws.  It is suggested that special attention be given to these points in reading this material to facilitate action during the meeting. Should anyone like to submit other alternatives to those proposed by the committee (or alternatives for other portions of the bylaws), it would expedite the meeting if 50 copies of appropriately worded alternatives could be brought to the meeting for the group's consideration.


James L. Chipps

The proposed alternatives included in the seven-page draft of the bylaws highlighted some of the disagreements among psychologists at the time.  For example, under Membership Requirements, the first alternative was that an applicant for membership in the proposed San Diego County Psychological Association "shall be a member of the American Psychological Association."  The second alternative was that the applicant "shall be certified as a psychologist in the state of California."

Regarding the questions of specialty divisions within the Association, the first alternative was that the Association shall be a generic psychological organization without divisions; and the second was that there should be divisions.  Other alternatives pertained to dues: the yearly dues shall be $4, $5 or $6.  At the time the cover letter and bylaws were mailed only three cents postage was required.

It is unknown whether the bylaws were approved at the April 1, 1960 meeting or sometime later.  However, it is known that the San Diego County Psychological Association came into existence in 1960.  Membership as an associate, full member or fellow required APA membership or certification as a psychologist in California.  The divisional structure was adopted.

During that first year, Dr. Chipps was the President, Walter Wilkins was President-Elect, and Dr. Zemlick was Treasurer.  The Association immediately established a working relationship with the California State Psychological Association [CSPA] in order to pursue licensure and insurance reimbursement for psychologists.  In 1964 the county Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization.
  According to an early, undated brochure, the dissolution of Psych and Psych also produced the San Diego Academy for Behavioral Sciences.  It was a broad interdisciplinary group including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, sociologists, and anthropologists for the mutual exchange of ideas.  The new San Diego County Psychological Association and the San Diego Psychiatric Association were affiliated with it.

The Academy for Behavioral Sciences was directed by Dr. Chipps appointed by the Psychological Association Board and Allen Rosenblatt, M.D. appointed by the Psychiatric Association.  Academy members met once yearly for a dinner meeting usually attended by 50 to 80 persons.  Speakers were often renowned, and included Ashley Montague and Jay Hailey.  The Academy continued for approximately four years before disbanding.

It was anticipated that the San Diego County Psychological Association would have two specialty divisions, clinical and experimental.  In fact, only a clinical division was organized.  It was called the San Diego Society of Clinical Psychologists and came into existence in 1961.  It is unknown who the President was that first year.  For 1962 with 15 members, Dr. Bessell was President.  Membership in the San Diego Society of Clinical Psychologists required membership in the San Diego County Psychological Association.

Initially Society dues were $50 yearly, an amount based on the assumption that practitioners' incomes were larger than those of nonpractitioners.  Additionally, Association bylaws mandated that $1of each member's dues would be paid to each division with which the member was affiliated, but a member who belonged to more than one division would pay an additional dollar in dues to cover each additional division.

In March 1962 a local study was published entitled "Private Practice in the Field of Mental Health, San Diego, California."  The study was part of a countywide effort to coordinate local mental health service.  It contained data collected in November 1961 from 108 questionnaires sent to 48 psychologists, 47 psychiatrists, 3 osteopaths practicing psychiatry and 10 social -workers, all thought to be in private practice.  The return rate was 69% for psychologists, 70% for psychiatrists and osteopaths and 80% for social workers.  Of the 40 psychologists who responded, 33 indicated they were in private practice.  Of these, only three had been in private practice ten years or more.  Fees charged by psychologists ranged from $10 to $25 hourly with the mode at $15 hourly.

In the study, community problems in mental health reported by all four disciplines were rank ordered.  Although they overlapped, the top three were insufficient services for disturbed children, lack of adequate treatment programs for the mentally ill in general and insufficient inpatient services for children.

The study found that the majority of psychologists in private practice held Ph.D. degrees with training in clinical psychology.  It was noted that the City of San Diego required psychologists engaged in private practice to be licensed by the city.  Five responding psychologists who were in private practice were not licensed, but they practiced outside the city limits.

During the second half of the 1960, the California State Psychological Association began moving toward geographical representation on its Board.  By this time, San Diego psychologists were perceived as among the most organized in the state.  Dr. Zemlick was San Diego's first representative to CSPA, and in 1970, he was elected President of the state organization.

By 1970, the San Diego County Psychological Association had 71 members.  Of these 43 held Ph.D. degrees, three held Ed.D. Degrees and 25 held M.A. or M.S. degrees.  Twenty-two members were in full time private practice.  Of these, 16 held Ph.D. degrees and six held M.A. or M.S. degrees.  In part-time private practice were twelve Ph.D.'s, one Ed.D. and two M.A.'s or M.S.'s.

In 1970, Wallace Lockwood's Psychology Associates office was still at the Laurel Street address, and in addition to Dr. Lockwood there was a staff of six: Drs. Hilding Carlson, Maxine Gunderson, James Howard, Fannie Montalto and Wolcott Treat.  Also on the staff was Frieda McCollom, M.S.  All doctoral level persons were ABEPP Diplomates.

During the last four days of January 1971 CSPA held its annual convention in San Diego at the Hotel Del Coronado.  An estimated 1700 persons attended, including 750 paid registrants.  Approximately 100 papers were presented and there were 40 symposia.  The topics of the meetings ranged from poetry in therapy to CSPA's reorganization.  San Diego Psychologist Gerald Sperrazzo, Ph.D. chaired the convention.

Dr. Maurice Zemlick, CSPA President, appointed Drs. Lockwood and Sperrazzo along with two other California psychologists to a committee on continuing education.  Their task was to develop three or four postdoctoral continuing education workshops featuring guest resource persons.

By the middle 1970, the San Diego County Psychological Association had become almost inactive, with a Board of Directors that seldom met.  However, the one division of the Association, the San Diego Society of Clinical Psychologists, became increasingly active and was essentially the voice of psychology in San Diego.  The Society was particularly active in 1975 during the presidency of Javad Emami, Ph.D.  The best recollection of names of Presidents of the Society follows:

1962 Harold Bessell, Ph.D.

1963 James L. Chipps, Ph.D.

1964 Maurice Zemlick, Ph.D.

1965 Charles Manuci, M.S.

1966 Verda Heissler, Ph.D.

1968 Hadley Lewis, Ph.D.

1969 Glen Garmin, Ph.D.

1970 John Smith, Ph.D.

1971 Robert Kaplan, Ph.D.

1972 William Finch, Ph.D.

1973 Kenneth Wright, Ph.D.

1974 Don E. Miller, Ph.D.

1975 Javad Emani, Ph.D.

1976 Thomas R. MacSpeiden, Ph.D.

Contact Us:
San Diego Psychological Association
4699 Murphy Canyon Rd.  Suite 105
San Diego, CA 92123

Diana Garza
Office Manager
(858) 277-1463
Fax (858) 277-1402

San Diego Psychological Association is a 501(c) 6 non-profit organization.
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