John M. Shlien, professor of education and counseling psychology emeritus, died on March 23 at his vacation home in Big Sur, Calif. Shlien, 83, was a leading researcher in the field of counseling and psychotherapy. He had been suffering from cancer for several months.
After serving in World War II, Shlien received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Chicago in 1957. Originally a student of anthropology, Shlien’s meeting with the renowned clinical psychologist Carl Rogers led him to change direction and study psychology. His relationship with Rogers, who was responsible for developing the client-centered approach to psychotherapy, was instrumental in Shlien’s intellectual development and growth. With Rogers, Shlien taught in the Human Development Program at the University of Chicago until 1967, when he was appointed to the Harvard faculty.
Shlien served as a member of the faculty of the Graduate School of Education for 20 years and was a favorite for many generations of students. He was instrumental in the founding of Harvard’s Program in Clinical Psychology and Public Practice.
In 1972, Shlien established the Robert W. White School, a therapeutic private school for adolescents who had failed in the schools of Boston. The school was part of the Erich Lindemann Community Mental Health Center in Boston.
After his retirement from Harvard University, Shlien lectured extensively throughout Europe on the principles and application of Rogerian psychotherapy. He authored many publications on the client- or person-centered approach to psychotherapy, including “Client-Centered Therapy and the Person-Centered Approach” (ed. with R. Levant, 1984).
He is survived by his wife, Helen Shlien; his three children, Andrea, Laura, and David, all residing in California; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in Cambridge at a date to be announced.