Meet Dr. Greenspan

  • Over 40 years ago, child psychiatrist Dr. Stanley Greenspan recognized the importance of meeting children on their level—both developmentally and physically—in order to maximize communicating, interacting, and learning. This meant getting on the floor to engage the child’s attention. Ultimately, Dr. Greenspan developed The Greenspan Floortime Approach to make his techniques, tips, and tools available to parents and those who work with children. The genius of the late Dr. Stanley Greenspan has transformed the lives of countless children throughout the world. As a theoretician, diagnostician, and clinician, he redefined the understanding of child development— how infants, young children and adolescents feel and think. His ideas will continue to improve the lives of children for generations to come. He left us the Greenspan Floortime Approach to carry on this work with children.
    My 3-year old boy was regressing and falling away from everyone especially his therapists. I was told he was autistic and retarded. We made a family commitment to Floortime and saw amazing and immediate results. All I wanted was a child who would not be isolated completely. What I have, because of Floortime, is so much more. He is an 8 year old with friends, fully conversational and keeping up with his peers in a general education classroom. A parent’s testimonial to Dr. Greenspan and his work.

    Professional Positions

    • Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the George Washington University Medical SchoolChairman of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders
    • Founding president of Zero to Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families
    • Director, NIMH Mental Health Study Center and the Clinical Infant Development Program
    • Chairman, Diagnostic Classification Committee, Zero to three
    • Member, Surgeon General’s Task Force on Infant Mortality
    • Editorial Boards: Clinical Infant Reports (Chair); Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Journal of Preventive Psychiatry, Journal of Psychoanalytic Inquiry, Infant Mental Health Journal, Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research, Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders
    • Practicing Child and Adult Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst
    • Supervising Child Psychoanalyst, Washington Psychoanalytic Institute.
    While President of Zero to Three, Dr. Greenspan led the effort to bring the mental health problems of infancy to the attention of the clinical community. Part of this effort was the creation of Zero to Three’s DC:0-3 (Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood), the intent of which Dr. Greenspan explains in this historic video from the early 1990s. His efforts, together with those of his mentor Dr. Reginald Lourie, and his friend Dr. Berry Brazelton, were largely responsible for emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis and treatment for infants and young children—to make, in his words, working with infants and young children a “legitimate field.” In this video clip, Dr. Greenspan explains what inspired him to devote his career to helping infants and young children.


    Dr. Greenspan was author of over 100 scholarly articles and chapters and author or editor of over forty books, translated into over a dozen languages. His research has been featured in all the major media, including NewsweekTime Magazine, The Washington PostThe New York Times, ABC, NBC, and CBS news broadcasts, and the subject of a PBS NOVA documentary, “Life’s First Feelings.”


    Dr. Stanley Greenspan first described the emotional developmental levels of thinking in a peer-reviewed journal in 1979. For the body of work that grew from these seminal ideas, he received these honors:
    • Sigourney Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association
    • Ittleson Prize* for outstanding contributions to Child Psychiatry Research from the American Psychiatric Association
    • Ittleson Prize for outstanding contributions to American mental health from the American Orthopsychiatric Association
    • Edward A. Strecker Award for outstanding contributions to American psychiatry
    • Distinguished Lecturer Award from the Scientific Program Committee of the American Psychiatric Association
    • United States Public Health Service Special Recognition Award
    • Heintz Hartmann Prize
    • Mary Allen Award for outstanding contributions to American psychoanalysis.
    * Stanley Greenspan is the only psychiatrist to receive both Ittleson awards.

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