Pine River was the brainchild of two clinical psychologists. In the 1960s they built one of the world’s premier training grounds for psychotherapists at Georgia State University.

Yet Drs. Irma Lee Shepard and Joen Fagan had bigger plans. On the model of California’s Esalen Institute, they dreamt of building a growth center on Georgia’s Etowah River. Their site, surrounded by pine trees, was called Pine River.

By then they had lured the chair of the University of Alabama’s psychology department, Dr. Earl Brown, to chair the GSU department. Along with five other nationally prominent psychologists Brown recruited to the department, they purchased an office in downtown Atlanta. The Etowah River site having become too small, they called the office Pine River – and when that office (and the next) also became too small, they built the dedicated psychotherapy center on Sheridan Road that is the Pine River of today.

The Sheridan Road building is as unique as the personalities that built it. Designed specifically as a psychotherapy center with offices ringing a central group space, it has no corner office with more status than any other.

The eight founding partners shared a commitment to clinical practice and training. They were leaders in the GSU department, as well as in their professional organization, the American Academy of Psychotherapists. While each maintained a separate private practice, all met regularly to share insights and sharpen their clinical skills. Annual group retreats resolved interpersonal issues and deepened friendships.

Many generations of partners have come and gone since Pine River’s founding, but much remains the same. Clinical meetings and group retreats continue to foster a shared community of professional therapists. Pine River’s purpose and philosophy remain the same: To provide prestige-level, growth-oriented psychotherapy and training.

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