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Norwalk Native To Lead Chicago Institute For Psychoanalysis

Norwalk native Erika Schmidt was recently elected as the first female director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.
Norwalk native Erika Schmidt was recently elected as the first female director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk native Erika Schmidt has been elected as the first female director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.

Schmidt, who has a master's in social work, took over the position of director in October for a three-year term. She won an election held in September against previous director, Dr. Phil S. Lebovitz.

"Ms. Schmidt is the first female director in the 81-year history of the Institute, as well as the first child psychoanalyst, the only non-medical doctor, and the first social worker elected to this position," said a press release.

"As an avid historical researcher, Ms. Schmidt brings to this position in-depth knowledge on the history of psychoanalysis in Chicago – and in particular, the rich history of the 81-year-old Institute."

Schmidt said in the release that there are challenges ahead.

“The Institute faces many challenges and exciting opportunities in our current mental health landscape. I look forward to working with a talented team of board members, faculty, and staff to reinvigorate the Institute from within," Schmidt said in the release. "One of my top priorities is to increase outreach efforts and program development to link the Institute, and more globally – psychoanalysis to the world around us.

"I will also work to infuse the Institute with robust, ongoing revenue streams to sustain and expand programming. Fundraising and public outreach efforts will leverage the Institute’s long history of training psychotherapists who go out and deliver reduced cost or no-cost therapeutic services to underserved communities."

Schmidt served as the first director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy upon its establishment at the Institute in 2008 until stepping down for her new post.

She is a graduate of both the Adult and Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Programs at the Institute, with certificates earned in 2008 and 2010, respectively. She graduated from the Institute’s Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Program in 1984. In addition to teaching courses at the Institute, Ms. Schmidt has served on the faculty of the Institute for Clinical Social Work since 1987.

Schmidt has been in private practice in Chicago since 1984 with an expertise is high-risk children. From 2002 to 2009, she was director of the Chicago Chapter of A Home Within, a national organization that provides pro-bono psychotherapy to children in foster care, with the guiding principle, “One child, One therapist, As long as it takes.”

From 1990-2008, Schmidt worked at the Student Counseling and Resource Service at the University of Chicago. From 1975-1987, she provided her expertise at the Juvenile Protective Association.

A native of Norwalk, Schmidt received a Master of Arts in the Humanities from the University of Chicago in 2001, a Master of Science in Social Work from the Simmons College School of Social Work in 1975, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Northwestern University in 1971.

The Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1932. Its mission is to provide continuing education and training to mental health professionals in the theory and practice of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

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