Meet Joanne Greenberg

Our upcoming 31st Plenary in Denver, May 3–5, will be mostly virtual because, at this point, Denver’s laws allow only fifty masked persons, socially distanced, in our meeting room at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. That restriction may be lifted by May, but we cannot count on that. Most of our attendees will participate by Zoom, of course.

Our principal guest will be Joanne Greenberg, known mainly by her autobiographical account of her psychological disturbance in her teen years. Her psychotherapist at Chestnut Lodge in Rockville, Maryland, was Frieda Fromm-Reichman, who was among the several preeminent psychotherapists of the previous generation.

Fromm-Reichman was among those who believed that psychotherapy was being effectively provided by lay persons, that a medical degree or a doctorate was not the only route to becoming a competent psychotherapist. She also had a once-removed relationship with Anton Boisen, through Harry Stack Sullivan.

Joanne was discharged after several years of residential treatment. She did a crash course in high school education and followed up with college and graduate school and a Ph.D. in anthropology, a subject she ultimately taught at the Colorado School of Mines. Besides her university teaching, she volunteered as a “lay psychotherapist” (my epithet) for her local Emergency Services. In that respect, she has much in common with us.

Joanne wrote a best-selling, semi-autobiographical account of her psychiatric treatment, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, (1964). The book was adapted to film in 1977 and a play in 2004. I consider this a must-read for any pastoral clinician because Joanne tells us what it means to be “lay” psychotherapist, a competency every religious leader should have. Joanne went on to write some nineteen other novels, historical and otherwise, and she's internationally recognized.

Anyone in CPSP who passes up this opportunity to listen to and interact with Joanne Greenberg will regret it in the years ahead. Of course, non-members are invited to attend, and you'll find our registration rates for this event more affordable than ever.

Registration will be open until the last day of the event for anyone, but we only have twenty tickets left (as of Mar. 31) for the in-person registrationThe hotel's special rate of $149/night (single or double) is good until April 6. If you're attending virtually, you'll find that sessions will be recorded and available for playback on your schedule.

Hope to see you in Denver - or cyberspace with Joanne Greenberg!


Raymond J. Lawrence
General Secretary