The Emmanuel Movement: The Origins of Group Treatment and the Assault on Lay Psychotherapy

Overview

"The Emmanuel Movement" was a name given by the contemporary press to a combined method of group and individual psychotherapy introduced in 1906 by the Rev. Elwood Worcester, Rector of the Emmanuel Church in Boston. This treatment method for the common neuroses, offered to the public free of charge and open to all social classes and religious denominations, was first welcomed with great popular acclaim but later ravaged by the widespread newspaper publicity it attracted. The movement continued its stormy existence for a decade beyond Worcester's

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Overview

"The Emmanuel Movement" was a name given by the contemporary press to a combined method of group and individual psychotherapy introduced in 1906 by the Rev. Elwood Worcester, Rector of the Emmanuel Church in Boston. This treatment method for the common neuroses, offered to the public free of charge and open to all social classes and religious denominations, was first welcomed with great popular acclaim but later ravaged by the widespread newspaper publicity it attracted. The movement continued its stormy existence for a decade beyond Worcester's retirement in 1929. His successors applied his methods—including group treatment, the first to be employed in psychotherapy anywhere—to the treatment of alcoholics.

In The Emmanuel Movement, Sanford Gifford presents the definitive statement on this unique movement. He examines its position during a critical phase of American psychotherapy, and discusses the methods and personalities—both champions and detractors—associated with it.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the History of Medicine
This meaty but easily read volume guides us through the quaint but confusing story of how an authoritarian, pragmatically minded internist, Dr. Joseph H. Pratt, managed to team up with two energetic, psychologically trained Episcopal priests to run a program for the 'outdoor treatment' of tuberculosis; of how this spawned the priests' program for the treatment of nervous disorders; and of how Pratt reemerged, years later, as a pioneer in group therapy per se...Gifford has done a masterful job of piecing together the elements and then sketching the broad picture...This is, I repeat, an easy book to read. Gifford writes as if he is a lecturer keeping his eye on the listeners in the back row, anticipating the questions to be raised and trying to answer then in advance. He connects with the reader, and this thin volume can be recommended to physicians and historians alike.
— Robert Charles Powell
Choice
Gifford's monograph will interest those who focus on the history of psychotherapy, lay therapy, group therapy, and self-help groups. It chronicles the activities of the 'Emmanuel Movement,' a church--and faith--based group therapy developed by the Reverend Elwood Worcester, Rector of the Emmanuel Church in Boston just after the turn of the 20th century. The therapy was free and provided in groups or classes, and was done in consultation with medical and psychiatric professionals. The Emmanuel movement was never a major force in the development of psychotherapeutic methods in this country and was roundly rejected as 'lay therapy' by Freud and others of the analytic school.
— F. J. Peirce
Isis
This brief, engaging history of the Emmanuel Movement reviews that peculiarly American mix of religion and psychotherapy that flourished chiefly in Boston, gained national attention from about 1905 to 1909, and first brought Freud widespread American publicity. The book is also an important account of a New England medical tradition that emphasized treating the whole patient, mind and body; of one of the first experiments in group psychotherapy; and finally, of the American medical establishment's concerted opposition to lay therapies. Sanford Gifford has skillfully synthesized existing secondary works, new material, and interviews with surviving family members of the first protagonists. He has produced lively and informative biographies of the movement's major figures and precursors, including its founder, the Episcopal priest Elwood Worcester...Gifford's unpretentious and highly readable account illuminates a short-lived but fascinating episode in the American search for health and self-improvement.
— Nathan G. Hale, Jr.
Journal of the History of the Behavior Sciences
This slim volume offers a historical sketch of the Emmanuel Movement's pivotal role in the development of psychotherapy in the United States...[Gifford] offers us a readable account of the Emmanuel Movement's appearance at the very moment that both medical professionals and the general public were trying to define a role for psychotherapy in the United States.
— Robert C. Fuller
Psychoanalytic Books
The Emmanuel Movement is one of the best monographs that I have ever read...[It could be called] a superlative account of an unusual intersection of religion and medicine in the early 20th century...an invaluable resource for those who are interested in the genesis of group psychotherapy and the antecedents of AA...and a carefully researched biography of Elwood Worcester, a forerunner of the Pastoral Psychology Movement...The Emmanuel Movement is clearly a scholar's trove. This hidden treasure will be an excellent addition to the library of anyone engaged in the dialogue of depth psychology and religion.
— David M. Moss, Ph.D., Th.D.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface

The Emmanuel Movement and the Origins of Group Psychotherapy

The Founding Father: Elwood Worcester (1862-1940)

The New England Tradition of "Medical Psychotherapy" and Its Turn-of-the-Century Practitioners

Joseph Hersey Pratt and the Origins of Group Therapy

The Beginnings of the Emmanuel Movement (1906-1929)

Growth and Expansion of the Emmanuel Movement (1906-1909)

Reorganization and Decline, 1909-1929

Worcester's Retirement and Successors to the Emmanuel Movement

The Worcester Family, 1940 to the Present

The Emmanuel Movement in Retrospect: Summary and Conclusions

Notes

Index

About the Author

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