Lois Holzman

Co-Founder and Director
East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy
41 Madison Avenue, 
31st Floor, New York, NY 10010

Phone: 917-815-2664 
Web: www.loisholzman.org, www.eastsideinstitute.org, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conceptual-revolution

Lois Holzman is director and co-founder of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy and chair of the biennial Performing the World conferences, which supports the emerging social change approach known as performance activism. As a leading proponent of postmodern, activity-theoretic, cultural approaches to human learning and development, she has brought the ideas of Lev Vygotsky to the fields of psychotherapy, organizational and community development, and a more politically grounded Vygotsky to education across the life span. With colleague Fred Newman, the late public philosopher and founder of social therapy, Holzman developed social therapeutics as a methodology in which human development and community development are inseparable, and linked to play, performance and practical philosophy. Through the Institute, Holzman leads a variety of international programs bringing grass roots organizers together with activist scholars.

Long a critic of the medical model of mental health, Holzman currently co-leads community outreach for the Global Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives (Dx Summit), an international group seeking to advocate for and disseminate alternatives to current diagnostic systems of mental illness. She has launched an international survey on emotional distress and diagnosis to bring the voices of ordinary people into dialogues on what are regularly referred to as mental illness and mental health. 

She is also a voice in the current conversation about the failure of modernist epistemology (“the knowing paradigm”) and the development of alternative ways to be in and relate to the world. Her previous books, including, The End of Knowing: A New Developmental Way of Learning (with Newman), present arguments for a cultural and performatory understanding of human life in light of the history and current limitations of modern epistemology. 

Among her other books are Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist (with Newman), reissued as a Psychology Press Classic Text in 2013; Vygotsky at Work and Play; Schools for Growth: Radical Alternatives to Current Educational Models; Performing Psychology: A Postmodern Culture of the Mind; and the edited volumes Postmodern Psychologies, Societal Practice and Political Life (with John Morss) and Psychological Investigations: A Clinician’s Guide to Social Therapy (with Rafael Mendez). She wrote her latest book, The Overweight Brain: How our Obsession with Knowing Keeps Us from Getting Smart Enough to Make a Better World online chapter by chapter with reader feedback. She is series editor for Palgrave Macmillan’s Studies in Play, Performance, Learning and Development, and blogs at Psychology Today and A Psychology of Becoming.

In 2014, Holzman received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cultural-Historical Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.