Who We Are
Developing helping professionals who are better able to heal the suffering of communities and vulnerable individuals.
The Sue Fairbanks Psychoanalytic Academy offers education and training that weaves psychoanalytic theory, practical skills and social work values to help practitioners better serve the needs of community members.
- Research. We believe psychoanalytic research is needed to develop evidence and resources for practitioners who work with vulnerable individuals and marginalized communities.
- Collaboration. We believe in uniting psychoanalytic knowledge, expertise from academia and social work practice to create trainings, programs and solutions for those working with vulnerable individuals and marginalized communities.
- Innovation. We believe in the importance of creating new innovative ways to translate psychoanalytic theory and interventions to better inform social work practice and move this interdisciplinary field forward.
The Academy began as a seedling, planted and nurtured by Sue Fairbanks, LCSW, BSD; an Austin based psychodynamic/psychoanalytic social work clinician. The journey began in 2007 when Ms. Fairbanks, wanting to make a lasting contribution to the UT School of Social Work, created and funded the Sue Fairbanks Endowment for Excellence in the Application of Psychoanalytic knowledge in Social Work at The University of Texas in Austin. The endowment began with funding an annual lecture that highlighted how social work is deepened and enriched by psychoanalytic theory and practice. At the time, Ms. Fairbanks was learning that psychoanalytic teaching and psychoanalytic thought was fast leaving the curriculums of most of the schools of social work in the United States. She had personally benefited significantly from being in analysis and observed the lasting gains in functioning her clients with emotionally disabling conditions experienced from her psychodynamic orientation as a psychotherapist, along with her many other exposures and explorations into psychoanalytic thinking. Ms. Fairbanks created this endowment to fund an initial annual lecture series, to inspire and encourage psychoanalytic thought to remain in social work schools, where it has a truly rich heritage and can continue to make such a valuable contribution to Social Work’s ability to ease the suffering of the many severely disabling conditions encountered in our work.
Ms. Fairbanks was also determined to encourage a larger psychoanalytic presence within UT’s School of Social Work. When she met Tina Adkins, our current Academy director, at a local gathering for the group Austin Psychoanalytic, it seemed the planets aligned. Dr. Adkins had just completed her PhD in Theoretical Psychoanalysis at University College London and the Anna Freud Center, and had already been working on her own psychoanalytically focused social work research while she was working on other projects within the School of Social work at UT. After getting to know each other, and being inspired by her work, Sue along with her husband Jim Huff, decided to generously start funding Dr. Adkins’ research in 2017, so as to expand the evidence and knowledge base of psychoanalytic thought within the field of social work, particularly at UT.
Sue also wanted to help provide more formal psychoanalytic education and training for social workers and students at UT: “I am incredibly passionate about the continually evolving body of knowledge that informs psychoanalytic thought,” said Sue. “Throughout my many years as a practitioner, I found that psychoanalytic trainings can serve as a vehicle for a deeply compassionate exploration and understanding of human suffering, as well as a way for social workers and the many other helping professionals to address the healing of that suffering in their various work settings.”
In 2019, Sue Fairbanks and Jim Huff significantly and generously expanded her funding to create this Academy. She helped create a vision of the Academy as a place within the School of Social work that offers education, training and research weaving psychoanalytic theory, practical skills and social work values to help practitioners better serve the needs of those they serve. Sue and Jim’s funding, encouragement and vision has allowed us to create and offer a Post Graduate certificate course in Contemporary Psychoanalytic Social Work Practice. This course began in 2022 and is not only the first of its kind, but re-kindles the spark between the two fields that has been neglected in academia for quite a long while. We look forward to many more ways in which the Academy will expand and contribute to psychoanalytic theory and practice within the field of social work!