Geraldine Kovsky Lincoln Grossman, 98, of Wynnewood, a longtime clinical psychologist, ardent feminist, and pioneering family therapist, died Saturday, April 30, of multiple organ failure at home.
Ms. Lincoln Grossman was a key contributor in the 1960s and ’70s to the development of Philadelphia as an early hub of emerging family therapy practices and training, and a succeeding generation of therapists was shaped by her influence. An important premise in the new approach was that relationships within families should be examined as closely as the symptoms of the troubled individual.
Working with other progressive mental health professionals, Ms. Lincoln Grossman made the department of family psychiatry at the Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute a leading center for research and development and was a founder of the Family Institute of Philadelphia in 1963.
Later, she became interested in brain science, mindfulness, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. “But, above all,” she wrote on her LinkedIn.com profile, “I am totally interested in the uniqueness of the person or persons I am seeing. I try to be fully present and to resonate with what the client is communicating, to understand him/her and give the most helpful feedback that I possibly can.”
Daniel Gottlieb, a well-known Philadelphia psychologist, radio talk-show host, and former freelance columnist for The Inquirer, studied under Ms. Lincoln Grossman at the Family Institute in 1972 and called her a “wonderful, compassionate woman” in his 2008 book, Learning From the Heart.
In a tribute he wrote after her death, Gottlieb said: “She was my teacher, my mentor, my therapist, my role model and my precious friend. … Somehow my world felt more stable knowing she was in it.”
In the 1970s, Ms. Lincoln Grossman taught and oversaw training at the Hall-Mercer Mental Health Center at Pennsylvania Hospital and was a training supervisor at Hahnemann University Hospital. Later, she opened a private practice in Merion Station and Wynnewood and worked with individuals of all ages, couples, and families. She finally retired last year at 97.
“Her patients were important to her, and she treated them like family,” her family said in a tribute. “The insights she offered to her clients were genuine and unique. She was an astute observer of people and their stories.”
Ms. Lincoln Grossman was a member of the American Psychological Association, Pennsylvania Psychological Association, American Family Therapy Association, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Born Nov. 17, 1923, Geraldine Kovsky grew up in Oak Lane and graduated from Olney High School in 1940. She studied economics and graduated from Goucher College in Towson, Md., in 1944, attended Bryn Mawr College, and earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology at Temple University in 1954.
She married William Lincoln in 1946, and they had a son, Bruce, and daughter, Stephanie. They divorced in 1969, and he died in 1992. She married Roy Grossman Jr. in 1972. He died in 2006.
Ms. Lincoln Grossman had strong convictions about social reform and headed groups that supported women’s rights and denounced political developments that she considered problematic. But she was generally tolerant of individual viewpoints and sympathetic to human frailty.
“She was always all about people,” her daughter said.
She practiced Feldenkrais exercise therapy, was an ardent Phillies fan, had a memorable laugh, and spoiled her dog, Pumpkin, and cat, Lucy.
An early user of personal computers, cellphones, texting, and email, she began painting in her 80s. She fashioned a home studio, attended classes, workshops and painting retreats, and her works were shown at the Norristown Arts Building and elsewhere.
She overcame cancer in her 70s and was still chatting with friends and family a few weeks before her death. “We benefited from her generosity of spirit, encouragement, perspective, and humor,” her family said.
Her granddaughter Martha Lincoln said: “She lit up a room.”
In addition to her children and granddaughter, Ms. Lincoln Grossman is survived by another granddaughter and two great-granddaughters.
A green burial is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, May 9, at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 225 Belmont Ave., Bala Cynwyd, Pa. 19004. A celebration of life is to be held later.
Donations in her name may be made to Women for Women International, 2000 M St. NW, Suite 200, Washington D.C. 20036.