Salvador Minuchin, Child Psychiatry

Salvador Minuchin, a pioneer in the field of family therapy who was a professor of pediatrics at University of Pennsylvania, died on October 30 at age 96.

Dr. Minuchin’s work “helped redefine the role of a therapist,” according to The New York Times. He was born in San Salvador, Argentina, to Jewish immigrants from Russia. He was inspired by a high school teacher to help young delinquents and was jailed for several months for his participation in leftist protests opposing the military government’s seizure of Argentine universities.

He earned a medical degree from the National University of Córdoba in Argentina and then enlisted in the Israeli Army in 1948. He studied child psychiatry and psychoanalysis in New York and went to Israel to treat Holocaust orphans and children displaced by wars. He then worked as a child psychiatrist at the Wiltwyck School for delinquent boys in the Hudson Valley, where he developed the theory of what became known as Structural Family Therapy.

He joined Penn  and was also the director of psychiatry at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and from 1965-1975 he was the director of the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic.

He took on a secondary appointment as professor of pediatrics in 1969. In 1984, he became clinical professor of child psychiatry in the associate faculty of Penn’s School of Medicine. He retired from the clinic in 1975 and was director emeritus and head of training there until 1983. In 1981, he returned to New York and established the Family Studies Institute, a nonprofit training center for therapists now known as the Minuchin Center for the Family.

Dr. Minuchin retired in 1996 and eventually settled in Florida, where he continued to teach and write.

His wife, Patricia, a psychologist and author, died in 2015. He is survived by a son, Daniel; a daughter, Jean; a granddaughter; and a sister, Sara Itzigsohn.