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 is approved by the Minnesota Office of the
Legislative Auditor and 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,
insanity and diminished capacity, murder, 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
We publish a journal, Issues in Child Abuse
Accusations, which began in 1989, was published for a decade as hard
copy, and is now published on the IPT website. It is a
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.
We have a Resource File with over
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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