NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
M. Robert Gomberg (1914 - 1958)
M. Robert Gomberg’s contributions to the field of social work and his focus on the family within the family agency were universally recognized, especially in the leading organizations of social casework. His work in standard-setting, accountability and specific training of counselors in family therapy has been acknowledged by the American Association of Marriage Counselors, the Child Study Association, the Family Service Association, and the Russell Sage Foundation, to name only a few.
His writing and teaching have emphasized the need to integrate approaches to treatment, balancing the inter-relatedness between the individual and family systems. His integrative approach cut across psychiatry, psychology, sociology, social sciences and medicine. The Menninger Clinic invited him to teach diagnosis and assessment skills and marriage to their staff from 1955 until his untimely death in 1958.
Gomberg was the executive director at Jewish Family Service of New York from 1949 until his death. He began his tenure at JFS. in 1939 as a caseworker and consultant. In addition, Gomberg taught at New York University from 1939 to 1951 and at Columbia University Teachers College from 1955 until his passing.
His knowledge of family therapy and marriage counseling earned him invitations to speak or teach at a number of organizations.
M. Robert Gomberg earned his Ph.D. in Personality Development in 1939 and his M.A. in Child Guidance in 1936 from New York University’s School of Education. He received his M.S.W. from the University of Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Service from City College in 1935. Gomberg died suddenly one hour after presenting his paper "Stabilizing the family for health and social effectiveness" to the Eastern States Health Education Conference at the New York Academy of Medicine in 1958.
Significant Achievements and Awards
In 1961 Nathan Ackerman and other noted family therapists organized the M. Robert Gomberg Memorial Conference to honor this family treatment pioneer. The full text of papers presented at the conference are available at the Internet Archive.
M. Robert Gomberg published dozens of articles and presented his findings at symposia. Some of his writings include:
1958: “Stabilizing the family for health and social effectiveness” – presented at Eastern States Health Education Conference, New York Academy of Medicine, April 24, 1958.
Gomberg, M.R. (1958) Family diagnosis: Trends in theory and practice. Social Casework, 39, 73-83.
“The man in the family” – presented at the annual C.S.A.A. Conference, Summer 1957. It was later published as “Tomorrow’s Family” in Child Study, XXXIV, 7-8.
Gomberg, M.R. (1956). Family-oriented treatment of marital problems. Social Casework, 37, 3-10.
Gomberg, M.R. (1953). Responsibilities and contributions of social work in strengthening family life. Social Work, XXXIV, 330-335.