Historical Moments

Historical Moments

Salvador Minuchin

(October 13, 1921 – October 30, 2017)

The Profession Remembers One of the Most Beloved Family Therapy Pioneers

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Salvador Minuchin at age 96. No matter your particular field of study or clinical work, all marriage and family therapists know of Sal, his contributions to family therapy, and his legacy as the developer of structural family therapy.

Over the years, Sal’s style has been described as forceful and intense, but in a manner that communicates respect for family members. He spent his career working on behalf of the poor, marginalized, and ethnically underprivileged, changing the language of therapy to make it relevant to families. Populations typically considered “unreachable” needed new ways of communicating. Sal and his colleagues developed training programs—mindful of multiculturalism—that changed the lives of many people.

Sal contributed to numerous professional journals and coauthored numerous books, many of which explore the effects of poverty and social systems on families. Among these are The Disorganized and Disadvantaged Family: Structure and Process (1967), Families of the Slums (1967), and Families and Family Therapy (1974).Co-author and close friend Dr. Charles Fishman noted “At this sad moment, losing my dear friend and mentor of many decades, I can only think of the countless number of families, all over world, who have been helped by Sal’s brilliance. He gave our field Structure, but for these families, he has given them so much more.”

Salvador Minuchin was born in 1921 in San Salvador, Entre Ríos, Argentina. His interest in working with family-based interventions came in 1951 while co-directing residential institutions for children in Israel. There, he began to work with groups instead of individuals. Later, Sal trained at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychoanalysis in New York, where the ideas of Harry Stack Sullivan (interpersonal psychiatry) were supported. As he was training, he began practicing at the Wiltwyck School for Boys and gradually recognized that he needed to see a client’s family for full effectiveness.

Today, The Minuchin Center for the Family provides structural family therapy training to individuals, and systemic consultations to organizations, working with couples and families who have been marginalized due to racism, socio-economic conditions and/or sexual orientation.

Our deepest sympathies are with the Minuchin family at this time, his close friends and all those impacted by his loss.


I discovered this disturbing news on March 28, 2018. Two days prior, the family experienced a tragic accident. At this moment, the whereabouts of three of the six children are unknown. The other five family members have died. Communities across the country are experiencing heartbreak as we all seek to understand and integrate this information. As of now, we hold space and hope for the successful rescue of the three missing children. I offer love and support to anyone seeking it. Please contact us and I will do what I can to help.