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Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger

Biography

Dr. Wolf WolfensbergerDr. Wolf Wolfensberger was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1934 and emigrated to the United States in 1950. He studied Philosophy at Siena College in Memphis, Tennessee, received a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology at St. Louis University and a PhD in Psychology from Peabody College where he specialized in mental retardation and special education. He was a mental retardation research scientist at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute of the University of Nebraska Medical School in Omaha from 1964 to 1971. Between 1971 and 1973 he was a visiting scholar at the National Institute on Mental Retardation in Toronto, Canada, and directed the Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership and Change Agentry at Syracuse University in New York until his death on February 27, 2011.

Much of Dr. Wolfensberger’s work was concerned with ideologies, structures and planning patterns of human service systems, especially concerning mentally retarded people and their families. He authored and co-authored more than forty books and monographs, and wrote more than two hundred fifty chapters and articles. His books Changing Patterns in Residential Services for the Mentally Retarded, The Principle of Normalization, PASS and PASSING are probably best known. His writing has been translated into eleven languages.

Dr. Wolfensberger was the originator of Citizen Advocacy and Social Role Valorization, and he was the foremost propagator of normalization in North America. He had a reputation for being a stirring and controversial speaker.

In 1999, Wolf Wolfensberger was selected by representatives of seven major mental retardation organizations as one of the thirty-five parties that had been most impactful on mental retardation worldwide in the 20th century.

SRV Training & Safeguarding Council

The Council is a 13-member international group, which includes the North American SRV trainers associated most directly with Dr. Wolfensberger’s teaching. The Council meets twice yearly, alternating between the United States and Canada, to set policy regarding SRV theory training.