About the founder
Fred Newman, Ph.D. was a practicing therapist for almost 40 years, until his death in 2011. He was the founder of social therapy. As principal trainer at the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy, he mentored and supervised hundreds of practitioners in this approach. He was also a philosopher, playwright, theater director and political activist.
Dr. Newman received his Ph.D. in analytic philosophy and the foundations of mathematics from Stanford University in 1962, but left academia in 1968 to pursue community and political organizing in New York City. He began doing therapy as part of community organizing in the mid-1970s. Over the decades, Dr. Newman led the building of numerous independent organizations that involve ordinary people in creating what they need to grow themselves, their families and their communities. Today, there exists a sustained network of community-based projects in therapy, education, youth development and culture, of which the Social Therapy Group is a part.
Dr. Newman wrote six books and dozens of articles about the theory and practice of social therapy, the politics of psychology and postmodernism, practical philosophy and revolutionary social change. Two of his books on social therapy are written for general audiences – Let's Develop: A Guide to Continuous Personal Growth and Performance of a Lifetime: A Practical-Philosophical Guide to the Joyous Life. His work as a therapist and teacher is the focus of Psychological Investigations: A Clinician’s Guide to Social Therapy.
As a supervisor and therapist, Dr. Newman believed that helping people to grow, to be intimate and to deal with their emotional and life problems was most effectively done in a group setting.
As one longtime social therapy client of Dr. Newman’s put it: “You’re with other people in group. They walk in the door just like you on Day 1 feeling their problems as intensely painful and feeling very isolated and desperate. Amazingly, you soon get to know them really well in this activity of building the group together.
“Fred was so immensely helpful in so many ways. It was clear that he was brilliant, but even more important was that his brilliance was in his capacity to lead all of us in creating an environment in which we experienced an intimacy and a capacity to love and push each other to grow in ways that I hadn’t thought possible, especially in a roomful of people. As part of us doing that together I was able to hear some really challenging stuff – like how my cherished sense of ‘self,’ that ‘self’ about which I was the authority, the assumptions I’d lived with all my life that I was ABSOLUTELY SURE OF – was the very stuff that needed the most challenging. In this setting I could start having an honest look at who I really was in the world – and how I wanted to live my life.
“This was one of the ways that Fred and my group helped me with my problems where hundreds of individual sessions with some pretty terrific and insightful therapists couldn’t. Because no matter how safe and secure and ‘understood’ I felt in my individual therapy, it never really challenged the core beliefs and illusion – the self-centeredness and isolation – that were at the root of my and others’ difficulty in growing and changing.”
Click here for more information about Fred Newman.