Leslie Greenberg: From Childhood Struggles to Revolutionary Therapy

Uncover more about the inspiring figure Leslie Greenberg. Discover the journey which lead him to the creation of emotion focused therapy and find opportunities to train with the man himself.
Written by Bruna P.


Leslie Greenberg’s journey has been marked by turbulence across various aspects of his life, from his psychological struggles intertwined with familial dramas to the societal context of his homeland. These challenges led him to relocate to Canada in pursuit of a fresh start. After transitioning from a state of insecurity, he evolved into a visionary, driven by a profound desire to enact positive change. It was during this transformative period that his passion for psychology flourished. Following the completion of his PhD at York University in Toronto, he teamed up with Professor Laura Rice to establish Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT).

Below is the impressive and intriguing story of Leslie Greenberg for your perusal, and do not miss out on upcoming events! His next event with us will begin on the 8th of June, click here for more info.

A Childhood Shaped by Turmoil

Leslie Greenberg’s early experiences and the challenges he faced throughout his life had a profound psychological impact on him, shaping his beliefs, behaviors, and career path in significant ways. Leslie’s story begins in post-war in South Africa, amidst a backdrop of political conflict and financial turmoil. Born in 1945, his family faced significant financial stress, with his father’s once-thriving business collapsing, leaving the family in a dire position. At the age of 12, Leslie witnessed the sale of his childhood home and realised his family’s need for assistance, all while grappling with his own fears and a sense of abandonment.

Early Years: Navigating Turbulent Waters

This sense of abandonment and insecurity started from a young age as a result of growing up in a household marked by financial stress, familial conflict, and emotional neglect. The lack of emotional support and parental presence contributed to feelings of inadequacy, fear, and a longing for connection.

Turning Point: A Journey of Self-Discovery

Witnessing his father’s arrest for fraud during adolescence added another layer of trauma to Leslie’s psychological landscape. The upheaval and instability resulting from this event likely exacerbated his feelings of fear, confusion, and betrayal, further eroding his sense of trust and security in the world.

The Path to Canada: A New Beginning

At the age of 25, after a tumultuous period of activism against the South African government, Leslie and his wife sought refuge in Canada. It was his wife’s profession as a psychologist that ignited his interest in the field, leading him to embark on a journey of academic and personal exploration. The transition from engineering to psychology became the choice that shaped his destiny.

Academic Pursuits: A Meeting of Minds

A chance encounter with Professor Laura Rice at York University proved to be a turning point in Leslie’s life. Inspired by Laura’s emphasis on curiosity and empathy in therapy, Leslie embarked on a collaborative journey that would revolutionize the field of psychotherapy. Despite the adversity he’d faced, Leslie’s psychological journey is characterized by resilience, courage, and a commitment to personal growth. His willingness to confront and explore his own emotions, coupled with his dedication to understanding the human psyche, ultimately led him to develop groundbreaking therapeutic approaches that have helped countless individuals heal and thrive.

Revolutionizing Therapy: The Birth of Emotion-Focused Therapy

Driven by a passion to understand the intricacies of human emotion, Leslie and Laura pioneered Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), a groundbreaking approach that prioritizes the exploration and expression of emotions in therapy. Rejecting traditional notions of rationality, Leslie’s work looked deeper into the emotional core of human experience, challenging prevailing paradigms and making the way for a new era of therapy.

Legacy and Impact: A Champion of Freedom

Throughout his career, Leslie remained steadfast in his commitment to social justice, using his revolutionary therapy to empower individuals and challenge oppressive systems. His belief in the transformative power of therapy to liberate individuals from emotional burden continues to inspire generations of therapists and activists alike.

A Life of Purpose and Passion

Leslie Greenberg’s journey from a childhood marred by conflict to a pioneering figure in the field of psychotherapy is a testament to the power of resilience and determination. His unwavering commitment to understanding and healing the human psyche has left an indelible mark on the world, reminding us of all the transformative potential that lies within each of us.

A Hero of Himself

Leslie Greenberg’s psychological journey is a testament to the transformative power of resilience, self-reflection, and the human capacity for growth and healing. Despite the challenges he faced, he emerged as a leader in the field of psychotherapy, driven by a deep understanding of the complexities of human emotion and a profound commitment to helping others navigate their own psychological landscapes.

Upcoming Events

If Leslie’s story has captivated your interest and you want to know more about his journey, make sure you check out his upcoming event here. This event will provide invaluable insights into his life, elucidating the transformative steps he undertook leading up to the creation of Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT). The 8th June is an exclusive opportunity to train in person with Dr. Greenberg who no longer travels regularly for work. Secure your place now! Stay tuned to our page for announcements regarding future events.

Some background before you start…

If you’d like to familiarise yourself with Dr Greenberg’s work ahead of the main event we have a number of courses readily available for you to watch now. Find them here. This is a great way to to get some background knowledge on EFT and get some questions ready!

Written by Bruna P.
March 13, 2024
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