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About the Institute

Our History

    The Institute for Psychological Therapies is a private practice of clinical psychology.  It was begun in 1974 by Dr. Ralph Underwager after several years of private practice in a large, multi-specialty medical clinic and several years of research work at Youth Research Center.  Ms. Wakefield joined the IPT staff in 1975.  Dr. Underwager and Ms. Wakefield were married in 1978.  IPT grew to include a professional staff of 16 and was located in Minneapolis.

    In 1990, we chose not to commute two hours a day any more, downsized the staff, and moved to Northfield.  Our practice had also become largely a worldwide forensic practice including research, writing, consultation, and providing expert witness services.

    Dr. Underwager first responded to child sexual abuse as a professional in 1953 dealing with both victims and perpetrators.  We have evaluated and treated hundreds of children who are victims of child sexual abuse.  IPT began a treatment program for sexual offenders in 1974.  Our sexual offender treatment program meets the national guidelines for sexual offender treatment.  Ms. Wakefield has been involved in providing treatment for perpetrators and victims since joining the staff of IPT in 1975.

    At the present time, while most of our work is related to allegations of child sexual abuse, we have also dealt with cases of sexual harassment, claims of recovered memories of childhood abuse, accusations of rape, allegations of improper sexual contact by professionals, forced and coerced confessions, false confessions, personal injury claims, mitigating factors in sentencing, custody, and medical and psychological malpractice.

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    Since beginning of IPT in 1974, the focus of IPT has been aimed at providing professional, responsible, and competent services based on the science of psychology.

    We have tried to take seriously the Boulder model of scientist first, practitioner second.  When we had a staff of therapists we always had two case conferences a week and staff members regularly presented reviews of research as well as cases.  We defined a full load of patients as 24 to 27 hours a week of direct services.  We read the research evidence to say that beyond that number of hours the quality of service declines and patients get treated more and more as objects rather than persons.  We emphasized research-based treatment modalities, primarily cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques.  We always had at least one clinical research project going on.

    We have tried to carry on the same approach in the forensic practice.  The research we do now is primarily archival and based on real world experiences and real world data.  Of course, we do not have as tight control over variables as a laboratory experiment may accomplish, but we also have a more realistic data base.  Both real world and more controlled studies are needed to produce the best understanding possible.

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Publications/Information Resources

    We publish a journal, Issues in Child Abuse Accusations, which began in 1989, was published for a decade as hard copy, and is not published on this website.  It is a peer-reviewed, scholarly, scientific, multidisciplinary journal that aims at presenting viewpoints and data that can be of assistance in increasing the accuracy of the decision making process in responding to allegations of child abuse. More information.

    We have a Resource File with over 30,000 articles in it, each of which we have read, evaluated, and classified.  We add to it daily.  We have each article entered in our database and can have instant access to them.  We have developed a classification system and can provide information on a broad range of issues and topics.  In the IPT Library, we have some selected bibliographies available.

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