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Therezinha Lins de Albuquerque (b. 1926)

by Ana Maria Jacó-Vilela, Filipe Degani Carneiro and Maria Cláudia Novaes Messias, Rio de Janeiro State University, Clio-Psyché - Program of Studies and Research in History of Psychology

Therezinha Lins de Albuquerque has played an important role in the regulation of the profession of psychology in Brazil (which occurred in 1962), and she has been influential in the development and certification of psychology programs and courses. She continues to work in the field to the present day. Born in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil in 1926, Albuquerque had her first contact with psychology in the 1940s during her training in pedagogy, completed in 1949 at the School of Philosophy of Recife.  However, her involvement in Psychology only occurred after her move to Rio de Janeiro in the early 1950s. Newly graduated in Pedagogy, she was disappointed with the area of education, believing that it did not have enough dynamism or contact with human affairs (Albuquerque, 2003).

In 1952, in Rio de Janeiro, she was introduced to Elisa Velloso (1914-2002), then-director of the Youth Guidance Center (COJ), a public clinic for child and youth counseling. The COJ was the first such clinic in Latin America and became the model for subsequent child guidance clinics. Albuquerque was asked to undertake an internship in psychology at COJ and immediately had an effect on the team. She administered psychodiagnostic tests (personality, intelligence, and specific skills) and provided counseling in cases where the demand was markedly psychological, i.e., in cases of emotional maladjustment, and in family, school, and vocational guidance areas that did not involve psychiatric issues.

Through theoretical studies of psychotherapeutic techniques and through contact with foreign professionals such as the American Reba Campbell, COJ had been progressively moving from a strictly psychotechnical profile that characterized Brazilian Psychology at the time, to conducting psychological counseling, initially with a Rogerian approach. After Velloso, Albuquerque was the most outstanding figure at COJ and was its director from 1968 until her departure in 1977. After her tenure at COJ she worked at another federal institution, the National Institute of Pedagogical Studies, an organ of the Ministry of Education. Here, she organized and directed the Advisory Service Psychopedagogical (SOPP), an office in the Guatemala School of Psychology, Rio de Janeiro, from 1955 to 1967.  This was an experimental school founded along the lines of the New School and based on the principles of Dewey and Claparède.  What was important, therefore, was the individual student, and psychology became an important tool in providing this education.

Albuquerque imported many features of the COJ into her work at the  SOPP, translating them for the  school environment. Initially, students were given batteries of  psychological tests, but finding this an inefficient practice, the SOPP began to work with the teachers, empowering them to use test data along with their experience in the classroom. The SOPP model  is considered  innovative in the field of school psychology, due to the critical vision  provided by testing and its educational psychology approaches.

Albuquerque was also important in the constitution of the Federal and Regional Councils of Psychology in Brazil - the regulatory body and ethics board of professional psychologists. She was the first president of the Regional Council of Rio de Janeiro (1977-1979) and vice chairman of the Federal Council (1980-1982). Moreover, she was a founder of the Association of Professional Psychologists of the State of Rio de Janeiro, which later became the Association of Psychologists of Rio de Janeiro. In the clinic and at school, the work of Albuquerque stands out for providing the  first steps toward establishing the psychologists role in providing  psychotherapy.

Albuquerque’s personal and professional path allows us to observe the importance of female participation in the emergence and development of the profession of psychology in Brazil, even if that participation is not always highlighted in traditional histories of the field.  Although these histories often include the contributions of men who were professors and/or who took part in committees to draft the regulatory laws of the profession, it is important to note that women were also present. From 1950-1970 they had a dominant presence in the various short courses focusing on technical and theoretical training in psychology, they were involved in the move toward professional regulation and certification of psychology courses in Brazil, they were members of the newly established associations and councils, and they worked as teachers in the new undergraduate courses. In short, it was without a doubt women who built the new profession. Therezinha Lins de Albuquerque is an example of this generation, and we owe her our respect and gratitude.


Albuquerque, T. L. (2003). Depoimento. In A. M. Jacó-Vilela, A. C. Cerezzo, H. B. C. Rodrigues (Eds.), Clio-Psyché Paradigmas – Historiografia, psicologia,       subjetividades (p. 412). Rio de Janeiro: Relume-Dumará.

Albuquerque, T. L & Dupret, L. (2009). Encontros no Caminhar da Psicologia educacional no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Letra Capital.

Date created: 2013