Lois Holzman met philosopher/psychotherapist Fred Newman in 1976. Holzman had just completed her Ph.D. in developmental psychology; Newman had just left academic life (he had been teaching philosophy) to organize radical education, health, mental health and political projects in the communities of NYC. Inspired by Newman’s work to create new kinds of organizations that challenge institutionalized ways of doing things, Holzman began to study and work with him. In the ensuing decades, Newman and Holzman have built a unique collaborative relationship that has impacted on how psychology, psychotherapy and education are practiced and understood.
Together Newman and Holzman have given expression to Newman’s discovery of social therapy, an approach to continuous emotional growth. Both are founders of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy, the international research and training center at which social therapy is taught and advanced; they work with social therapy centers around the country, and have been instrumental in creating many projects that utilize the social therapeutic approach in all kinds of educational, organizational, health and mental health settings.
From their first collaborative writing, The Practice of Method (1978), Newman and Holzman have spent the last three decades organizing, studying and learning from community-based projects — in the U.S. and around the world — that utilize the social therapeutic and other cultural approaches in educational, healthcare, organizational, and mental health settings.Together and separately they have written dozens of books and articles over the last twenty years. These writings articulate for academics and practitioners the methodological, philosophical and political implications of their new approach to understanding human life, to fostering human development, and to building community.
They are known for their practical and revolutionary reading of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, for their activity theoretic and therapeutic utilization of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophical method, for thier postmodernization of Marxism, and for their recognition — in practice — that the human capacity to perform is critical to learning and growing at any age of the developmental potential of the human capacity to perform at any age.
For their radical challenge to scientific psychology — the day-to-day community practice that is the “end of knowing” — they are regarded as among the most rigorous, inventive and controversial postmodern developmentalists.