Reflections from President Blau: The Charlotte and Karl Buhler Award

Each month Dr. Diane Blau, MSP President, shares what’s on her mind and in her heart regarding The Michigan School and the field of professional psychology. 

President Diane Blau

The Michigan School of Professional Psychology (MSP) was honored to receive the Charlotte and Karl Buhler Award for 2019 from the Society for Humanistic Psychology, Division 32 of the American Psychological Association (APA).  The award is granted to an institution and an individual associated with the institution that has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to humanistic psychology.  I am pleased to be named along with MSP to receive this award. 

Upon receiving this award, I became curious about Charlotte and Karl Buhler.  I discovered both were well-known psychologists who had emigrated from Europe just prior to World War II but it was Charlotte Buhler (1893-1974) with whom I was most  familiar  I remembered her from my studies with Clark Moustakas and Cereta Perry at the Merrill-Palmer Institute.  I had read several of her books and knew she was central to the founding of humanistic psychology.  In fact, Charlotte Buhler’s is generally the only woman named in most accounts of humanistic psychology’s beginnings.  Buhler appears alongside Maslow, Rogers, May, and Moustakas.

As I delved more into Charlotte Buhler’s history, I discovered she was not only a brilliant  scholar but also a remarkable woman, way ahead of her time.  She never stepped away from her profession, completing her dissertation and giving birth to her first child the same year.  Throughout her life, she held multiple roles: researcher, writer, professor, international lecturer, clinician in private practice. She lectured all over the world and formulated several significant theories of human growth and development. Even at age 79, she published Introduction to Humanistic Psychology with Melanie Allen. At the same time, she had a successful marriage and raised two children.

Discovering the impressive achievements of Charlotte Buhler enhances the meaning of this award for me, as both a woman and co-founder of MSP. She was committed to study for the sake of helping others.  She believed in the values of self-awareness and self-realization. She met challenges face on with great determination. She was committed to her field of study, her family, and her own self-development.

Charlotte Buhler inspires me as I reflect on my own journey. While also being dedicated to my profession and my family, when I began, society admonished mothers desiring professional careers. I was shamed for leaving my children in others’ care and pursuing advanced education and professional work. There were many occasions when my inner knowing and resolve were tested. But I am glad I stayed the course and my journey led me to become a co-founder and ultimately president of MSP.

Here we promote qualities of commitment, determination and belief in human potential. These qualities are superbly reflected in our faculty, staff, and students.  Congratulations to us all!