Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Fred Wertz, Ph.D.
Professor, Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies at Lincoln Center
Department of Psychology
Dealy 215
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458-9993
(718) 817 - 0540 Email:

Curriculum Vitae
Professor Wertz
 Clinical Interests | Research | Courses | Publications Recent News 

Clinical Interests
Over the last 30 years, I have practiced psychotherapy mostly with individual adults and some couples, families and children. Primarily within a person-centered, existential framework, I integrate psychoanalytic, interpersonal, cognitive, behavioral, and psycho-spiritual approaches. I am interested in the disparate theories of psychotherapy offered by these various schools and use them heuristically and reflectively within a phenomenological, human science orientation. I have worked with persons of varied cultural, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I tailor my psychotherapy collaboratively with each client, with sensitivity to his or her context, personal resources, and agency. In recent years I have been working in a skilled nursing, residential facility that admits homeless individuals who are not acceptable to other institutions. Most of my clients have long psychiatric histories and multiple diagnoses which are complicated by serious and in some cases terminal medical conditions, a lack of interpersonal support, and pathogenic (challenging) social environments. Consequently, I have become increasingly aware of the complex, ecological context of psychotherapy. I have learned the importance, for mental health, of these clients’ relational networks that include physicians, nurses, staff, administrators, peers, surrounding neighborhoods/communities. At times I participate with my clients and intervene in these wider circles. This clinical experience has deepened and extended my existential care orientation in therapy that emphasizes psychological life as “being-in-the-world.”

Major Research Interests Top
I have conducted empirical research on perception, crime victimization, consumer psychology, depression, abnormality, illness, weeping, guilt, and procrastination. These projects aimed to analyze the experience and behavior of humans in ordinary, everyday life situations. They have used simultaneous and retrospective written and oral descriptions, behavioral observations, in depth interviewing, and graphic/symbolic expressions in order to gain access to the phenomena under investigation. Phenomenological analytic reflection was used in order to grasp and explicitate the essential structure of these subject matters. Both idiographic and nomothetic levels of knowledge were achieved in each of these projects.

One of my main goals has been to carefully delineate the procedures of phenomenological psychological research methods and to develop appropriate norms for their utilization. My early efforts along these lines included the specification and exemplification of qualitative analytic procedures, the establishment of reliability and validity of phenomenological research, and educational writing on all phases of research including data constitution, data handling, analytic procedures, and the presentation of findings. I discovered what I believe to be common analytic operations used in phenomenological and existential research by diverse scholars throughout psychology and psychiatry. I later came to believe, to my surprise, that these same procedures have been informally and implicitly used by Freud and in subsequent advances made in the history of the psychoanalytic movement. This insight has led me to investigate the largely unacknowledged research methods of psychoanalyticallyand humanistically orientedpsychologists. I am currently in the process of investigating the possibility thatcommon methodological fundaments, similar to those formally specified by Giorgi, are implicit across these and other apparently divergent qualitative research traditions in psychology, such as those of grounded theorists, feminists, hermeneutic psychologists, narrative psychologists, and others.

My theoretical and methodological critiques of psychology have addressed experimental psychology, psychoanalysis, psychometric theory, cognitive psychology, behaviorism, and humanistic psychology. In general, I have found that the effort to undertake psychology as a natural science has compromised the achievements of these schools of psychology in that it has imposed inappropriate methods and conceptual frameworks on psychological subject matter. However, I have also found that each of these schools has contributed fundamental, valid insights to our knowledge of psychological reality which can be best brought to light by a human science approach, that is, one developed in view of the uniquely human qualities of psychological subject matter. I argue that only as a human science, with its own indigenous methods and conceptual framework, can psychology achieve its disciplinary aims and the status of a genuine science.

My interest in the history of psychology has been an ongoing one. I have studied the New Look school of perceptual psychology as an attempted revolution in psychology gone awry. In my view, this movement failed to achieve its aims because it did not sufficiently free itself from the presuppositions of naturalism. I have also studied the treatment of humanistic psychology in history textbooks, finding that the movement is often distorted, and only in rare cases have historians moved beyond specific ideas of such pioneers as Maslow and Rogers along with references to the field of psychotherapy in a manner that does justice to the radical reorientation of metapsychology and research methodology suggested by this movement. I have devoted considerable study to psychoanalysis, from an exploration of the role of Franz Brentano's philosophy in Freud's work to the implicit metapsychology, which, with its emphasis on meaning, has been the essential driving force in the historical trajectory of this movement. I reinterpreted Freud’s classic case of the “Ratman” utilizing the philosophies of Heidegger and Foucault, a work that led me to a study of the wider role of rats inthe history of psychology. I am interested in placing psychology, as an historical phenomenon, into our broader cultural history in a critical way. Most recently, I have focused on the persistent critiques of the scientific status of psychology, on the problem of methodological pluralism in psychology, and on the relations between psychology and other disciplines including the natural sciences, other social sciences, and humanities with the aim of using phenomenological thought to resolve these fundamental disciplinary problems of our field.

Learn about the research interests of the students whom I advise.

Courses Top
  • PSGA 6298 - Psychoanalytic Theories
  • PSGA 7890 - Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology
  • PSGA 7050 - Philosophical Foundations of Psychology
  • Psychotherapy Supervision
  • PSRU 2900 - Abnormal Psychology
  • PSRU 3830 - Theories of Psychotherapy
  • PSEU 3360 - Sport Psychology
  • The Psychology of Creativity
  • PSRU 3910 - Humanistic Psychology
  • PSRU 4360 - Cults and Religion: The Individual and Society
  • The Freudian Case History
  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • PSRU 4910 - Psychology and Human Values
  • Practicum in Psychology

Selected Publications Top

A listing of Dr. Wertz's available published works may be obtained by visiting For copies of Dr. Wertz's published works, please contact him by email at

Recently Published

Five ways of doing qualitative analysis
Wertz, F.J., Charmaz, K., McMullen, L., Josselson, R., Anderson, R., McSpadden, E. (2011). Five ways of doing qualitative analysis: Phenomenological psychology, grounded theory, discourse analysis, narrative research, and intuitive inquiry. New York: Guilford Press.

Research Methodology
  • Wertz, F.J. (1995).  The Scientific Status of Psychology. The Humanistic Psychologist, 23(3), 295-315. (Available on audiotape from the American Psychological Association, #APA95-147).
  • Wertz, F.J. (1987).  Cognitive psychology and the understanding of perception. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 18(2),103-142.
  • Wertz, F.J. (1983).  Revolution in Psychology: Case study of the New Look school of perception.  In A. Giorgi, A. Barton, & C. Maes (Eds.),  Duquesne studies in phenomenological psychology, volume 4.  Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 222-243.
  • Wertz, F.J. (2006).  Phenomenological currents in 20th century psychology.  In H. Dreyfus & M.A. Wrathall (Eds.), Companion to Existential-Phenomenological philosophy, pp. 392-408.  Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Inc..
  • Wertz, F.J. & Alcee, M. (2003).  A Science of Persons: Exploring the Impact of R.D. Laing’s The Divided Self on Psychology.  In R. Sternberg (Ed.), The Anatomy of Impact:  Great Books in the History of Psychology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association Press, pp. 137-159.
  • Wertz, F.J. (1998).  The role of the humanistic movement in the history of psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 38(1), 42-70.
  • Wertz, F.J. 1994).  Of rats and psychologists: A study of the history and meaning of science. Theory and Psychology, 4(2), 165-97.
  • Wertz, F.J. (1992).  Representations of the "Third Force" in history of psychology textbooks, Humanistic Psychologist, 20 (2 & 3), 461-76.  R  Also available on audiotape through the American Psychological Association, # APA-88-259.
recent News Top

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