Sonia Wachstein

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Sonia Wachstein
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BornOctober 1907
Vienna, Austria
DiedAugust 2001
New York City, New York
  • Psychotherapist
  • Social worker
  • Writer

Sonia Wachstein is an Austrian psychotherapist, social worker, and writer. She was born in October of 1907, in Vienna, Austria, and died in New York City, New York, in August of 2001[1].


Sonia Wachstein was known for her research in social work and psychotherapy[1]. She published research about equity problems in youth mental health based on her direct observation in the New York City Public School system[2]New York City public school system|. As early as the 1960s, Sonia Wachstein observed the evident socioeconomic divide regarding access to privatized healthcare, especially therapy and other mental health services[2]. In spite of this, she advocated for direct psychiatric and psychological screening in public schools, clear pathways from a social worker to a therapist, and confidentiality for youth in therapy sessions without parents present[2].

Published Works

Wachstein published several articles regarding the development, analysis, and treatment of childhood mental disorders[1]. Two of her works, published in the journal Child Welfare, are "Child Guidance Without Involving Parents?[3]" and "News from the Field, Bedford Stuyvesant's PS83. A School for Healing[4]." She also published an article entitled, "An Austrian Solution to the Problem of Child Placement."[5] These works were focused on offering tangible solutions to growing mental health concerns among adolescents in school after World War II[1].

Education and Occupation

After attending the Chajes Gymnasium in Vienna,[1] she then began to teach there. In 1939, however, Wachstein immigrated to London, England, where she taught both English and German to refugees and other immigrants[6]. She continued to do this for the duration of World War II[6]. In 1944, she immigrated to New York City, New York, where she made a living teaching German at Brooklyn College[6]Brooklyn College|. Wachstein then entered a work-study program where she went on to earn her Ph.D. in social work at the Graduate School of Social Work at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, finishing in 1946[6]. After earning her Ph.D., she became a supervisor in the Brooklyn school system. After retirement, she continued to spread education through teaching English to Russian students at Bryn Mawr College[6].

Early and Family Life

Sonia was the daughter of Bernhard Wachstein, a historian, bibliographer, and genealogist, and Marie Wachstein, as well as the sister of Maximillian Wachstein[6]. Bernhard Wachstein was the director of the Library of the Kultusgemeinde, the Jewish community of Vienna. In her early years, Sonia was homeschooled by her mother[1]. She then went on to study English and German at the University of Vienna[1].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Center for Jewish History".
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Therapy for Children without Parent Involvement".
  3. Wachstein, Sonia (1960). "Child Guidance Without Involving Parents?". Child Welfare. 39 (4): 19–25. JSTOR 45398316.
  4. Wachstein, Sonia (1972). "Bedford Stuyvesant's P.S. 83: A School for Healing". Child Welfare. 51 (10): 650–657. JSTOR 45392833. PMID 4664286.
  5. Wachstein, Sonia (1963). "An Austrian Solution to the Problem of Child Placement". Child Welfare. 42 (2): 82–85. JSTOR 45399778.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 "Sonia Wachstein".

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