Mariah Fenton Gladis
Feb. 2, 1948—July 7, 2018
We know that many of you were touched by Mariah’s Life of Love, for everyone and everything. We want to make certain that our entire SJI Community knows about Mariah Fenton Gladis...dear friend and member of our SJI Advisory Council.
As a leader in the world of clinical social work and an innovative organizational builder and administrator, Mariah Fenton Gladis (Feb. 4,1948-July 7, 2018) changed the lives of many. In so doing, Mariah laid the foundation of a visionary treatment approach upon which others could build.
Mariah Fenton Gladis, M.S.S., L.C.S.W., B.C.D., had a long and inspirational career as a clinical social worker practitioner and trainer. Mariah was committed to the belief that how to address emotional trauma in order to live fruitfully was so important that it should not be reserved exclusively for professionals. She knew that her theory of practice needed to be shared with the general population. With this intention, Mariah established the Bucks County Institute in 1974, to provide a model of psychotherapy that was not illness based, rather viewing each client as having what she called, the “wisdom of the organism.” This perspective and practice were grounded in the understanding that the client had the inherent capacity to know more about what she or he needed by way of help and support. Mariah called this the “Needs-Based” psychotherapy model. In Mariah’s view, her clients did not have problems, they were simply reaching for ways to fulfill their needs for good health and for the capacity to live fully.
In 1981, Mariah was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a fatal, neuro-degenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways to the brain and spinal cord. At that time three prominent neurologists gave her a 10 percent chance of surviving two years. Yet Mariah more than beat the odds. Very fortunately it was this approach in working with others to focus on the “wisdom of the organism” that carried Mariah herself forward, living fully and working steadily for the next 37 years.
In 1985, Mariah developed what became her signature model Arrive Already Loved™, a method for establishing a self-relationship that is supportive and compassionate as a source of sustenance during personal and interpersonal challenges.
In 2006, recognizing the need for more inclusiveness in the area of personal growth, Mariah formed The Mariah Fenton Gladis Foundation, a nonprofit offering free life skills training, personal growth, educational, and psychotherapeutic counseling programs and workshops. The Foundation’s original mission remains: “To provide free programs that offer concrete tools for inner growth and healing to underserved communities.” Central to the Foundation’s programs is resiliency - adapting well in the face of adversity through an understanding of and reliance on your own strengths and abilities. So as Mariah always said, wherever we go, we are “arriving already loved”.
In 2017, Mariah presented her inspirational speech, Arrive Already Loved™, to 1,200 people at a TEDx Talk, in Asbury Park, NJ. Mariah’s tenacity and courage to go forward continuously with strength and determination even within the debilitating confines of ALS actually transformed that disease into a provocative catalyst for her own wisdom. Mariah Fenton Gladis will long be remembered as a true trailblazer, a woman with foresight who lived every moment reflecting the amazing capacity of the human spirit.
In 2006, recognizing the need for more inclusiveness in the area of personal growth, Mariah formed The Mariah Fenton Gladis Foundation, a nonprofit offering free life skills training, personal growth, educational, and psychotherapeutic counseling programs and workshops. The Foundation’s original mission remains: “To provide free programs that offer concrete tools for inner growth and healing to underserved communities.” Central to the Foundation’s programs is resiliency—adapting well in the face of adversity through an understanding of and reliance on your own strengths and abilities. So as Mariah always said, wherever we go, we are “arriving already loved.”
The Foundation also believes in the power of collaboration. It has partnered with many organizations bringing programs to a broad and diverse audience. These collaborations included: Center For Non-Violence and Social Justice, Lutheran DC Synod, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Fighting Back Organization, Camp Dreamcatcher, Good Grief, Compassionate Care ALS, Lehigh Valley Hospital Burn Center, and Penn State Univ. at Berks County, and Bryn Mawr College.
Mariah was a member of the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work and the National Association of Social Workers and attained the title of Board Certified Diplomate Social Worker. In 2008, she published her book, Tales of a Wounded Healer: Creating Exact Moments of Healing, the first manual of Gestalt Therapy for mental health clinicians and non-clinicians alike.
Significant Achievements and Awards
Mariah was named Social Worker of the Year in Pennsylvania in 2001, and received an Advocacy Award from Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association for her work as a lobbyist to Congress in D.C. on behalf of patients and their families. In 2001, Mariah was also the keynote speaker at the Curt Schilling ALS Annual Benefit Dinner.
In 2006, Mariah received the International Stevie Award For Women In Business for Lifetime Achievement. In 2007, she presented a lecture and a workshop at the Mind-Body-Spirit Expo in Pennsylvania, on the value of compassion and forgiveness. In that same year, Mariah presented a symposium on “The Value of Hope” to the staff of the National ALS Association in Los Angeles, Ca.
In October of 2008, Mariah conducted a free workshop for women at Miraval Spa in Tucson, Arizona, entitled “Embracing Yourself Into Wellness,” to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Also in 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Living Legacy Award by the Women’s International Center in San Diego, CA., celebrating the accomplishments and positive and lasting contributions of women. Former recipients of the award include Maya Angelou and Mother Teresa. In 2009, Mariah was named one of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business by Governor Edward Rendell and five Pennsylvania business journals.
As in her professional work, Mariah was known as one who shared her knowledge and love openly on a community level as well. In 2015, Mariah was the keynote speaker for the 8th Annual Delaware Valley Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Muscle Summit. In 2016, she was honored as one of the 100 Distinguished Alums of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research 100th Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia. And days before her passing in 2018, she was awarded the 157th Legislative District’s Extraordinary Woman Award, presented by Pennsylvania State Representative, Warren Kampf.