Hanbleceya History

Hanbleceya Treatment Center was founded by Moira Fitzpatrick, PhD in 1979 as a semi-residential therapeutic community for individuals with schizophrenia. Over the years, the Hanbleceya model has expanded to include the treatment of affective and anxiety disorders, trauma-based conditions, and dual diagnoses.

Our Foundation


Suffering from schizophrenia as a young adult in the late 1960s, Moira was admitted to a therapeutic community in San Francisco. Her healing experience and commitment to living a life of recovery led her to seek an education in the field of psychology. After receiving her master’s degree, Moira embarked on her own “quest for vision” and returned to San Diego to create the therapeutic community she named Hanbleceya.

In 1993, Dr. Fitzpatrick created a new program system based on what experts and families said was the primary need for the mentally ill: “A place to live…an education or a job…and hope for recovery.”  This was the theme of the 1992 California Alliance for the Mentally Ill (CAMI) (now called the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, California) conference. NAMI is the strongest advocacy group and lobbying force of policy and change for the seriously mentally ill in the United States.

At this time in 1993, the residential program of Hanbleceya was closed and the newly structured, independence-focused program was born, founded with the goal of assisting patients in living as independently as they are able. Hanbleceya continues to address the needs identified at the 1993 CAMI conference and provides the therapeutic support necessary to assist patients in being successful in volunteer work, employment or education.

Hanbleceya became internationally renown over the years through media coverage and our reputation for providing quality care. Dr. Fitzpatrick was additionally an enthusiastic speaker who reached out to various consumer and professional groups, parent and family groups, hospital intake personnel and discharge planners, and other treatment providers to advocate for effective patient care. Congruent with her legacy, we continue to inform and engage with the community and other programs and hospitals throughout the country.

In 1997, Dr. Fitzpatrick decided to move on to other challenges in the field of healthcare, and David Spinella, who had been involved with the community for 12 years by that time, took over as Hanbleceya’s director until 2005. At that point, with a combined 22 years experience in the Hanbleceya system of care, co-directors Dr. Karlyn Pleasants and Hank Griffin, MFT teamed with businessman Kerry Paulson to help Hanbleceya evolve to the next level.

The Story behind the Name


Hanbleceya comes from the words hanble, meaning ‘vision/dream’, and ceya, meaning ‘to cry’ – literally ‘crying for a vision’ or quest for vision. To the Lakota Tribe of South Dakota, hanbleceya is a ritual primarily enacted by an individual, but done under the supervision of a sacred person of knowledge. One undertakes a “vision quest” to gain power or to seek a vision about their life and future.

An individual wishing to embark on a hanbleceya obtains a pipe and seeks out a wise sacred man. The sacred man is told by the individual of his desire to obtain a vision. If the sacred man accepts the guiding responsibility, the pipe is then smoked between the two and a sacred relationship is formed.

The two ride on horseback to a sacred hill where appropriate behavior during the hanbleceya is taught. The individual wears only moccasins and a breechcloth, and carries a buffalo robe and a pipe filled with tobacco and sealed with tallow. Soon after arriving, the individual is instructed to remove his moccasins as a sign of humility. Together they dig a pit large enough for the individual. He is then told to stay in the pit and only arise at the dawn of each day to pray. He is also instructed to hold onto the pipe and that as long as he does so, nothing will harm him, although many things may come to visit to test his resolve.

After giving instructions, the sacred man leaves the individual and returns to the camp, where he and numerous relatives will pray for a safe return. At the appointed time, the sacred man returns for the individual and takes him back to the camp, where the visions from the hanbleceya are interpreted and support for carrying out these visions is provided.