INNER HUMANISM - Unlocking Happiness

Chicago | Oak Park

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who developed it and why?
Inner Humanism was developed by two prominent psychotherapists and child development experts in Chicago, Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. and William J. Pieper, M.D. The Piepers are married and the parents of five children.

Over the course of professional training, clinical practice, and raising children, the Piepers became increasingly dissatisfied with prevailing psychological theories of child development and psychotherapy. They embarked on their own investigations to provide better answers to fundamental questions: How can parents raise happy children? Why do many people feel unhappy even when they attain success in love and work? Why are people not living the lives they want? What can be done to help them?

For almost two decades they conducted naturalistic clinical inquiries, scholarly analysis of preceding psychological and philosophical work, and their own original theory development. Their investigations forged groundbreaking advances regarding the nature of emotional pain, how it can be treated within a psychotherapeutic relationship, and how parents can raise children who experience pleasurable inner happiness and possess the capacities to create loving relationships and productive lives.

The Piepers’ work culminated in an innovative approach to psychotherapy they called, Inner Humanism. Their work was published in a seminal academic book for professionals under the name given their unified theory of child development, psychopathology, and psychotherapy, Intrapsychic Humanism: An Introduction to a Comprehensive Psychology and Philosophy of Mind (Falcon II Press, 1990).

William Pieper, M.D., Stuart Brent, and Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. at the book signing and publication celebration for Intrapsychic Humanism at Stuart Brent Bookstore, formerly on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Inner Humanism has been applied in a variety of settings for almost thirty years now. In an early demonstration project, the Piepers and their colleagues successfully used Inner Humanism to treat adolescent wards of the state deemed “untreatable” by previous mental health professionals due to the severe and chronic nature of the youths’ emotional problems (Pieper & Pieper, 1995).

The Piepers practice Inner Humanism in their Private Practices, treating children, adolescents, and adults, as well as counseling parents. They also train and act as consultants to mental health professionals in the fields of Social Work, Psychology, and Psychiatry, including the Psychotherapists profiled here, who are among the most experienced Psychotherapists using Inner Humanism.
The Piepers published a best-selling book on their new parenting approach, Smart Love: The Compassionate Alternative to Discipline that Will Make You a Better Parent and your Child a Better Person by Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. and William J. Pieper, M.D. (Harvard Common Press, 1999). They went onto publish a self-help book for adults, Addicted to Unhappiness: Free Yourself from Moods and Behaviors that Undermine Relationships, Work, and the Life You Want (McGraw-Hill, 2002, 2004).

Dr. Martha Heineman Pieper was awarded her undergraduate degree from Radcliffe College (Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude), and her Doctorate in Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago. She has served on the editorial boards of professional journals such as, Social Work, Illinois Child Welfare, and Smith College Studies in Social Work. In addition to her clinical writings, she has published extensively on the philosophy of science and research. Dr. Heineman Pieper is on the Board of Directors of Smart Love Family Services and The Intrapsychic Humanism Society.
Office: 312.856.0918

Dr. William J. Pieper was awarded his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Illinois. He completed Psychiatry Residencies both at the University of Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute in Chicago in adult psychiatry and at the Institute for Juvenile Research in Chicago in child and adolescent psychiatry. In 1975 Dr. Pieper completed advanced training as a Psychoanalyst, being awarded certificates in both Child and Adult Psychoanalysis from the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. He has taught adult and child psychotherapy courses at the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration and at the Institute for Psychoanalysis. Dr. Pieper is on the Board of Directors of The Intrapsychic Humanism Society.
Office: 312.946.8762

The Piepers have been featured in television and radio broadcasts, in a website,, and in a monthly parenting column that ran for many years in Chicago Parent. Their Smart Love column in Chicago Parent has been reproduced in three handbooks, Parenting Questions-Smart Love Answers, where their responses to parents’ questions over the years are collected.

For more information on publications, Smart Love Family Services, and The Intrapsychic Humanism Society, see Resources.

You can learn more about the background theory behind this psychotherapy approach by clicking on the link, What is Inner Humanism? and then visiting the page how does it address unhappiness and unlock happiness?