The Reiss-Davis Graduate School is a program of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, a non-profit and non-sectarian agency offering both educational and mental health services to children, adolescents, and their families.
Reiss-Davis offers a professional doctorate (the PsyD), along with professional development courses that grant continuing education credits. In addition, the graduate school collaborates on public workshops and trainings sponsored by the Post-Graduate Fellowship Programs.
Reiss-Davis traces its roots to the establishment of the Graduate Center for Child Development and Psychotherapy in 1976 in Los Angeles. The Graduate Center began as an independent, non-profit, and non-sectarian organization offering PhD, PsyD, MA, and certificate programs. The Center’s mission was to provide training in psychodynamic treatment for children, youth, and their families. It awarded 56 doctoral degrees during its first 31 years.
In 2007, representatives from the Graduate Center approached Vista Del Mar’s Reiss-Davis Child Study Center, which offered post-doctoral testing and fellowship programs, with a request to merge. The institutions shared a similar purpose and commitment to child and adolescent diagnostics and psychotherapy. The merger occurred in 2008 and the Graduate Center for Child Development and Psychotherapy began to operate under the auspices of the Reiss-Davis Child Study Center.
Initially offered as a daytime program, the PsyD transitioned to blended instruction. Beginning with the cohort that entered in 2018, students enrolled in a standard 10-week quarter term. In this model, which continues through to today, students take a full courseload consisting of one 2-unit and two 3-unit courses per term. All courses are blended, consisting of weekly readings and assignments stored in the online learning management system, and a residential class each month on either Friday night or all-day Saturday or Sunday.
Several name changes have accompanied the history of the graduate school. In 2015, the Graduate Center for Child Development and Psychotherapy rebranded itself as the Reiss-Davis Graduate Center for Child Development and Psychotherapy. A year later, the governing board approved a name change to the Reiss-Davis Graduate Center, which underwent one further modification in 2019 to the Reiss-Davis Graduate School. In part, the name change reflects the awareness that the Reiss-Davis degree programs are applicable to clinicians who work with clients from a young age through adulthood, and with families and communities.
In its current form, the Reiss-Davis Graduate School was granted regional accreditation in 2020. Our accreditor is the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Reiss-Davis recognizes and honors three seminal leaders in the founding and/or continuing development of the school:
Dr. Oscar Reiss was a preeminent pediatrician not only in Los Angeles but across the country. He taught and supervised at USC, held the position of Chief Medical Doctor at Vista Del Mar, and had a thriving practice in Beverly Hills. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, he had a dream to develop a clinic that would offer lower income patients the same high-quality diagnostic and therapeutic services that young people in Beverly Hills received. He also wanted to create a center that would provide advanced training to psychology, psychiatry, and clinical social work professionals within a psychodynamic orientation. However, he was never able to see his dream come to fruition, as he died shortly before the opening of the Oscar Reiss Mental Hygiene Clinic on Fairfax Boulevard in Los Angeles on September 21, 1950.
Dr. David Bennett Davis wanted to continue Dr. Reiss’s dream, becoming the first board president of the Oscar Reiss Mental Hygiene Clinic in 1950. Sadly, he unexpectedly died one year later. Shortly thereafter, the board of the clinic changed the name to the Reiss-Davis Clinic. In 1963, the expanding clinic moved to West Pico Boulevard, still in Los Angeles, and became the internationally known and well-respected Reiss-Davis Child Study Center.
Dr. James Incorvaia provided leadership to the Reiss-Davis Child Study Center, including the Reiss-Davis Graduate School, for 46 years. He worked ceaselessly to promote children’s mental health services and to inform the professional community of recent and relevant developments in psychodynamic child psychotherapy and psychology. He joined Reiss-Davis in 1972 as a postdoctoral fellow, was promoted as the Director of the Psychology Department and Training in 1975, and became the Director of Reiss-Davis Child Study Center and Institute in 1991. In 2007, he led the merger with the Graduate Center for Child Development and Psychotherapy, for which Dr. Incorvaia eventually oversaw Reiss-Davis’s WSCUC accreditation.
A memorial fund has been established in Dr. Incorvaia’s honor.