Esther Thelen Research and Education Fund

Developmental psychologist Esther Thelen is interviewed by Certified Feldenkrais Trainer Roger Russell in Amsterdam 1998.

Esther Thelen

The Feldenkrais® Educational Foundation of North America (FEFNA) established the Esther Thelen Research and Education Fund in 2005. This fund is named in honor of Esther Thelen, Ph.D., G.C.F.P., developmental psychologist, and director of the Infant Motor Development Laboratory at Indiana University from 1985 to 2004. Prior to coming to Bloomington, Esther attended Antioch College and the University of Wisconsin. She completed an extensive longitudinal observational study of infant behavior for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Missouri and subsequently joined the faculty. Since 1979, Dr. Thelen’s research was continuously funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She served as president of the International Society on Infant Studies and was president of the Society for Research in Child Development at the time of her death.

Dr. Thelen (1941-2004) was known worldwide for her contributions to the understanding of developmental processes from a dynamic systems theoretical perspective. However, she was not satisfied with sharing the results of her research within academic confines. Dr. Thelen was committed to dialogue across disciplines and with practitioners, policymakers, and the public in order to shape scientific inquiry and translate the resulting knowledge into practices that make positive changes for individuals and society. During the last decade of her life, the Feldenkrais community became an important vehicle for expressing this commitment. While Dr. Thelen significantly influenced many within the Feldenkrais community, she, in turn, integrated the Feldenkrais Method into her own life and completed her professional training in 2002. Dr. Thelen facilitated and contributed to several important exchanges among researchers and Feldenkrais practitioners that increased our profession’s interest in and understanding of the role of research. Her writings offer a theoretical framework that some have found to be applicable to the Feldenkrais Method. Her manner of interacting with students and colleagues was that of an exemplary Feldenkrais teacher. She catalyzed remarkable development within the Feldenkrais profession.

The Esther Thelen Research Committee directs the Thelen Fund. Members include:

Patricia Buchanan, Ph.D., ATC, PT, GCFT
Toledo, OH, USA

Roger Russell, CFT, PT
Heidelberg, Germany

Jim Stephens, Ph.D., PT, GCFP
Havertown, PA, USA